Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for January, 2011

It Might But Probably Won’t

In my most recent post, I chatted a bit about whether or not the iPad would gain a Retina Display come April, or whenever the second-generation tablet is set to be released. I came to the conclusion that it would not, citing simple upscaling math as the reason it would not. I was shocked, then, when a new crop of rumours from Engadget claimed that it would. Now, obviously, I don’t have the kind of inside information Engadget does; everything I write is pure guesswork. It got me thinking again, though.

CEO Steve Jobs defined the Retina Display of the iPhone 4 as a display that exceeded the resolution of the human eye from about a foot away. The magic number in that case was about 300 PPI. However, an iPad isn’t usually a foot away from the eye — it’s more like three feet away. If the pixel count were quadrupled, therefore doubling the resolution, it would be 264 PPI. That’s pretty close to 300 PPI, and probably comfortably above the magic number for three feet. But.

But, as I pointed out last time we chatted, that’s still more pixels than almost as many pixels as are currently in their 27″ Cinema Display. That display is fine when powered by a beastly graphics card, plugged into a wall. However, the iPad is powered by batteries and last I checked, the graphics capabilities weren’t rated as “beastly.” And I still think that such a display is prohibitively expensive to manufacture right now.

Engadget still thinks that the display will be ultra-high-resolution, and in theory I should believe their sources (on account of having none of my own). Their sources are usually correct, and there’s some evidence for such a display in the current SDK beta. The iBooks app has a double-resolution wood grain texture, the inclusion of which probably got someone fired. Furthermore, 9 to 5 Mac points out that Apple themselves want developers to include iPad@2x images. And holy crap, would you look at this: is this the display? Uh, no,

John Gruber checked his sources and it seems that I’m correct. Gruber slips that there are high-res iPads currently testing, but he believes they’re for a 2012 launch. He also points out that the new iPad is likely to have a screen manufacturing process similar to the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch — this is something I’d guess would happen also.

No surprises, then.

PS: This is wrong.