Screen idols: higher resolution means better laptops
Got a fast CPU - where's my ultra-high res display?
Extreme Hardware Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge chipset, currently being deployed by every laptop manufacturer on new machines, is capable of supporting resolutions of up to 4096 pixels horizontally, using integrated graphics.
Known as 4K, these ultra-high resolutions are gaining support in professional video cameras. So why do Samsung, Sony, Lenovo and the rest slap a relatively low-resolution, 15.6in, 1366 x 768 screen on a laptop that is maxed out in every other area?
Apple’s iPad, which has a 9.7in screen, has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. That is a pixel density of 246ppi.
Unique: Apple's 2880 x 1800 'retina display' MacBook Pro
The iPhone 4 and 4S have an even higher pixel density: 326ppi. And Apple is not the only tablet and smartphone manufacturer offering high-density screens. Asus has a tablet in the works with a 1920 x 1080 display, and there are lots of smartphones on the market with pixel densities well above 200ppi.
Yet laptop manufacturers stick with screens that can only be described as "HD" because they just manage to squeeze in more than 720 vertical pixels – the fewest required to meet the HD spec.
There are several reasons for this. One is that adding a higher-resolution screen to a laptop adds to the cost of production. When manufacturers are operating on wafer-thin margins and trying to outdo each other on price, there has to be a very good reason for increasing cost – and bumping up the screen resolution just doesn’t offer enough wow factor to take that risk.
The second reason is battery life. More pixels means more light, which means more power, and that sucks battery life. It is a trade-off that manufacturers don’t think we users are willing to make.
Laptop makers stick with screens that can only be called "HD" because they just squeeze in more than 720 vertical pixels
Resolution is not the only issue, of course. Laptop screens are notoriously poor at displaying consistent colour across a wide viewing angle.
And then there is the thorny issue of how many colours the screen can actually display. Most companies will tell you that their screens display "millions of colours". What they won’t explain is that the vast bulk of those colours are fudged.
That is because most laptops still use Twisted Nematic (TN) displays, which are notorious for poor viewing angles, low contrast and an inability to display 24-bit colour.
Natively, TN panels use six bits to record the intensity of each of the three primary colours shown by a given pixel and use a form of interpolation – as the fudging is known technically – to display the other several million colours visible to the human eye.
Next page: Tablets outdo notebooks
I want my 1200 vertical pixels back!
Even for desktop monitors, getting more than 1080 pixels is seriously difficult - not just expensive, but hard to find.
Re: Size matters!
"...so you have to switch the resolution down..."
YOU may have to, but can be sure that everyone else is the same as you?
I would happily have 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 on a 13" screen. Other people may have different comfort levels but I'm not going to be so arrogant presume that my opinion is shared by everyone.
never understood current displays
I've got a 5 year old dell with a 1440x1280 screen and so seeing something with a vertical resolution that's less than that is odd (even my work displays seem not tall enough at 1920x1080).
Then going back to *older* screens (think 2001), I had a 15.4 " 1600x1400 screen on a laptop, which was fantastic. I don't want to buy a new laptop because it simply won't display enough vertical resolution. 768 is 'resolutely' bad (pardon the pun).
I like the higher resolution displays so long as the height of a laptop's screen is actually increased from the poky 6-7 inches I keep seeing on them.
Who needs it?
Leaving aside the obvious marketing benefit of "Bigger, Better, Faster, More", let's step back for a second and consider.
There seem to me to be two types of laptop user: those who primarily want to watch videos and everybody else. For the video-watchers, the 16:9 format is ideal but for everyone else it's terrible - especially for "business" users who deal mainly in A4-portrait format documents and people who surf a lot, as most websites are STILL designed for tall-thin, "page" form factor web content.
So we have a whole generation of laptops that are optimised for watching TV and films - oh and playing games maybe, to the detriment of everyone else. Now unless those media consumers are watching their shiny, glossy screens in perfect darkness the quality of what they see is always going to be compromised: by glare and reflected light.
So given all that, you have to ask: can yer average lappy user benefit from sooper-dooper screen technologies and resolutions that need an electron microscope to view adequately? Given that there's been no real drive to improve laptop screens since the early days (my 1996 vintage Olivetti sported a 1024x768 screen, I guess that would be "HD" by today's standards), I can only assume that the current crop of high resolutions is only being marketed on a "becauwe we can" basis as part of the BBFM principle.
Re: Size matters!
I don't agree. This is crazy-talk.
Or talk from someone who should have gone to... an optician of your choice.
For some tasks (photo editing) you simply don't want to see the pixels. If your eyesight is good you can see them at a comfortable viewing distance at the size and resolutions you mention.
And for those folk whose eyesight isn't too good the OS should be able to scale the UI so worst case there's a very smooth picture in front of you.