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I currently have a MacBook Air, which I use with a Thunderbolt Monitor, side-by-side, at my desk.

I'm considering upgrading to a Retina Macbook Pro. However, I'm worried that using two displays with different DPIs will create an odd experience. I would love to hear from people who have this setup. Is it odd to move windows from one screen to the other and have things change from 1x to 2x and vice versa?

FWIW, I am a web designer, so am particularly interested in folks who use this setup for web design/development.

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I gave a new 13" Air and 27" T-bolt Display to a new hire at my company and she has said she loves the added screen real estate - no complaints ever about the differences. I have a non-Retina high-res 15" MBP next to a 27" T-bolt and they look fine together. –  da4 Oct 1 '13 at 14:19
    
I don't have a retina MBP but I do have a newer MacBook Air and an older LG display that isn't nearly as sharp as the MacBook Air. I would assume this is similar to your considered situation. Every now and then I have to strain a bit when connected to the external display but all in all it's a nice setup. –  Mr Rabbit Oct 1 '13 at 15:13

2 Answers 2

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I'm worried that using two displays with different DPIs will create an odd experience. I would love to hear from people who have this setup.

I have a 13" retina MacBook Pro and a 23" external display that I use for web development. It's actually a great setup since it makes it really easy to test how your designs look on both types of displays.

Is it odd to move windows from one screen to the other and have things change from 1x to 2x and vice versa?

When you move a window from one display to the other, you might notice it quickly redraw at 1x or 2x, though it's very brief.

One interesting thing is that windows have to be drawn at either 1x or 2x in their entirety, so if you position a window such that it spans both displays, it'll draw at the resolution of whichever display contains more of the window. It's rare that you ever position a window like that intentionally, though, so I wouldn't call it a problem.

Honestly, the biggest problem you'll have once you get a retina display is that it'll make every other display you use look horrendous :-) Text in particular is an order of magnitude sharper, so I always run anything text-heavy (IDE, email, etc.) on the retina display.

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There is a momentary flicker when moving between displays, and it's very noticeable for non-native applications like Firefox.

If you can, I'd recommend waiting until next year for more-affordable 32" 4K displays, which should work better in HiDPI modes.

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