I'll be the first to admit that I probably focus on screen resolution a smidge more than the average computer user. So I'm incredibly disappointed that after finally adopting a 15.4" display on the 15" MacBook Pro, Apple is not offering different resolution options. What's most surprising about this move is that the current 15" MacBook Pro has a lower resolution than 15" PowerBook. Apple should really take better advantage of the 15.4" screen size and offer resolution options on the MacBook Pro.
Some Back Story
The original Titanium PowerBook was one of the first (if not the first) mainstream laptop to offer a wide aspect display. It was a daring move that really paid off as widescreen displays have become the norm on laptops. However, because wide aspect displays were so new (seemingly before standard sizes were developed), the display for the Titanium PowerBook ended up being 15.2". As far as I know, they are the only company to use a 15.2" display on a laptop.
As time went on and the widescreen displays grew in popularity, the industry standard 15.4" display emerged. To meet the demand of different manufactures and customers the 15.4" display was made in different resolutions. As to how 15.4" became the standard instead of 15.2" which Apple had already developed I'm not really sure, I'd imagine that LCD glass manufactuers offered a new LCD glass plate size to better accomodate widescreen display dimensions with less wasted glass and the 15.4" size just fit better on the plate. For more about how LCD displays are made, this is the best link I've found: http://www.crystec.com/crylcde.htm
Standard 15.4" Resolutions
Apple 15.2" Resolutions
|More on LCD Resolutions via Prismo|
However, for some reason, which I've never understood, Apple stuck with their 15.2" display long after the 15.4" was the norm.
Can I ask you a personal question? What resolution do you use?
Display resolution is a matter of personal taste. Lots of people prefer low resolution as everything appears bigger and easy to read. Others prefer higher resolution so that more can fit on the screen and achieve a higher definition image for games and graphics applications. To lots of people the WUXGA and UXGA resolution makes everything "too small" (I definitely fall into this camp). But the point is, there's no ideal resolution for everyone.
I have a SXGA+ display (1400 x 1050) and for me it's just right. As a designer, this resolution allows me to not have my palettes overlap the canvas of whatever I'm working on, but things aren't so small to the point of straining my eyes.
15.4" Finally. Buhhh....
After upgrading the 15.2" display on the most recent 15" PowerBook to 1440 x 960, Apple finally moved to the 15.4" display on the MacBook Pro. However, to date they only offer it in one resolution: 1440 x 900. So somehow they went to a larger screen (15.4" versus 15.2") but a lower resolution; the 15" MacBook Pro screen despite being bigger has fewer pixels than the most recent 15" PowerBook. I can't understand why Apple would accept a lower resolution in moving from the PowerBook to the MacBook Pro. And I really can't understand why Apple doesn't take advantage of using the standard size display and offer different resolutions to consumers.
Even more confusing is the resolution of the 15" MacBook Pro is a non-standard resolution (it's not WXGA or WSXGA+). For what it's worth this resolution is a very good compromise medium resolution, but that means that it's still too low for users who prefer higher resolution.
It's too bad really, the resolution of the display is literally the only thing holding me back from buying a 15" MacBook Pro.