Digitimes reports that the next MacBook Pro update will include a 2,880 x 1,800 pixel display. There’s no size given, so this could be an across-the-board panel offering in 13″, 15″ and 17″ sizes. Keep in mind that Digitimes is the tech industry equivalent of the Daily Mail, and they’re often inaccurate. They cite “upstream supply sources”, but those sources were also cited for an October 2011 launch of the iPad 3.
This panel has got to do a lot of things, though. Due to the way an LCD display works, as pixel density rises, so does the amount of light required to achieve a given brightness level. Apple would like to keep the lid of their notebook as thin as possible, so any additional backlighting needs to be produced without increasing its thickness. The panel also needs to be cost-effective. Right now, there isn’t a single mass-produced panel like this, and trying to shoehorn something as new as this into a $2,000 notebook is asking a lot.
I suspect that the resolution of the standard lineup will be bumped to 1,440 x 900 px, 1,680 x 1,050 px and 1,920 x 1,200 px for the 13, 15 and 17-inch models, respectively. The high-res panel might then be a built-to-order upgrade. I, for one, look forward to seeing the possible results of such high-resolution displays across both the iPad and Apple’s notebook lineup.
M.G. Siegler notes an important point:
It’s important to note that when you typically hear about higher resolution screens, it generally means smaller elements on that screen. But if these screens are double the resolution of current models, Apple could do what they did with the iPhone (and soon iPad) screen, leaving the scale the same while greatly increasing the pixel density.
I wonder if Apple prefers the physical dimensions of the onscreen elements on the MacBook Pros, or on the Airs. The latter’s displays have slightly higher pixel density than the former’s, resulting in somewhat smaller controls.
Also, Vlad Savov over at The Verge notes that the hardware to drive such a large number of pixels already exists:
Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors have been shown to support 4k x 4k resolutions, so even without a discrete GPU Apple would be able to power the immensity of a 2,880 x 1,800 display.
I suspect that the frame rate in a graphically-demanding application might be low, but still useable.