Get ready for an onslaught of high-resolution displays, coming to everyone from smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
As I wrote about last month in “In the iPad 3 era, pay attention to the pixels-per-inch,” Apple computer users are enjoying screens with much higher PPI (pixels per inch) than has been the industry norm. But they’re not alone.
A standard desktop computer monitor or notebook PC shows about 100 pixels per inch. An iPad 2 tablet has a sharper screen with a PPI of 132.
Samsung ups the ante with devices like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, an Android tablet with a 1280×800 10.1-inch display. That’s a PPI of 149. Want more? Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 crams the same 1280×800 resolution into a 7.7-inch form factor. That’s a PPI of 197.
Photographs, text and icons on those high resolutions are stunning. But they are also consuming more bandwidth to transmit, more storage, more processing power, and more electrical power. The iPad 3’s battery is considerably larger than the battery in the iPad 2, and the iPad 3 also has a stronger GPU. Yet battery life and apparent performance are about the same. The new model needs more horsepower simply to break even.
High resolution is about more than tablets and phones. The Liliputing website reports that we’ll be seeing these types of displays everywhere—desktops and notebooks—in only a year or two. The site’s story “Intel: Retina laptop, desktop displays coming in 2013” says this is what Intel sees happening in the computer space over the next few years:
Phones and media players with 5-inch, 1280×800-pixel displays
Tablets with 10-inch, 2560×1440-pixel displays
Ultrabooks with 11-inch, 2560×1440-pixel displays
Ultrabooks with 13-inch, 2800×1800-pixel displays
Laptops with-15 inch, 3840×2160 pixel-displays
All-in-one desktops with 3840×2160-pixel displays
You should read the story; it does a good job of explaining the relationship between PPI and viewing distance, as well as the limits of “retina” displays. At some point, the human eye simply can’t perceive any improvement in resolution.