Apple released an updated version of the 13” Unibody MacBook—now called MacBook Pro—in June 2009. The new model is supposed to have expanded color gamut in comparison with the previous model. In other words, it should be able to represent faithfully a larger range of colors. As I consider myself a pro-amateur photographer, I value color range and accuracy and therefore considered replacing my 13” 2008 Unibody MacBook with the new model. But first I wanted to see for myself how much larger the gamut of the new MBP was.
The staff at the local Apple store was kind enough to allow me to measure the color gamut of the new 13” MBP with my Pantone Huey colorimeter. The Huey is by no means a high-end colorimeter, but it helps a lot in calibrating my monitors and laptop screens. So, I created an ICC profile of the new MBP display at the store and compared it with the profile of my existing 13” MacBook. Both profiles were generated for gamma 2.2, D65 white point, and room light compensation turned off. I made a combined picture for easy comparison of the two gamuts.
As evident on the picture, the difference is quite noticeable. The new 13” MBP gamut encompasses a much larger range of colors. It does not, however, completely include the gamut of the previous model, which can show some cyan-blue colors that the new one cannot. Apple claims 60% larger gamut. I haven't measured how much exactly the difference is but it appears to be substantial enough. The new MBP is able to produce more deeply saturated colors especially in the yellow-red and purple-blue areas of the spectrum.
It is also interesting to compare the black point of the displays as recorded in the ICC profiles. The old MacBook has XYZ values of [0.006, 0.007, 0.006], while the new MBP has values of [0.001, 0.002, 0.001]. The lower black point values indicate that the new MBP is capable of producing deeper blacks – a nice feature.
While at the Apple store, I also noticed—as others have already reported—that the vertical viewing angle of the new display is also better than that of the previous model. The colors still change when viewed at a different angle but much less than on the old MacBook model. The new model also has an SD card slot, which is another nice feature for photographers. Overall, I think that for me it is worth it to upgrade to the new MBP model. Now I only have to find someone to buy my current MacBook
For those of you wanting to see the difference for themselves, here is a zip file containing the two color profiles: macbook_color_profiles.zip.
June 14, 2009 — Georgi Beloev