Tablets outdo notebooks
If that was the only technology available to laptop manufacturers they might be forgiven, but tablets, including Apple’s iPad and several Android slates, have IPS (in-plane switching) panels.
High-end LCD monitors also have IPS displays. These panels have a wider viewing angle than TN displays and more accurate colour reproduction, and can display 24-bit colour natively.
Try and find a mainstream laptop with an IPS panel, however, and you will be sorely disappointed. They tend to be reserved for mobile workstation notebooks with 15.6in and 17in screens rather than the much more common laptops with 15in screens or smaller. Why? Cost, mainly.
Try and find a mass-market laptop with an IPS panel and you will be sorely disappointed
IPS panels have a lower yield on the production line than their TN counterparts and so are more expensive to produce. Dell believes that the benefits of including them in smaller laptops don’t justify the additional expense.
So Dell reserves IPS panels for users working in photography or graphic design or content creators who demand superior colour accuracy.
Asus too takes the view that TN panels are good enough for most users and that moving to IPS is still too costly. Laughably, it has also claimed that wider viewing angles expose your work to prying eyes: peeking peepers don't need to stand so close.
Despite Asus’s low regard for IPS panels, two of its most recent small-screen laptops do sport them. The Zenbook UX21A and UX31A both have IPS panels and will be available with resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 pixels. Where can you buy one? Er… you can’t, but they are on their way.
Sony's Vaio SE has one of the few Full HD IPS laptop LCDs
Sony’s Vaio SE, however, is available now, costs less than a grand and has a 15.5in, 1920 x 1080 IPS panel. That is hardly the mainstream, but it looks like hopes of seeing an IPS panel in a sub-£500 laptop are unlikely to be realised in the near future.
There is better news on the way, however. Samsung is busy developing active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes (Amoled) screens for laptops. These screens, widely used in smartphones by Samsung, HTC and Nokia, have much higher contrast than TN displays and wider viewing angles.
As with IPS, however, production yields on the panel sizes needed for laptops are not great so costs are high.
That is likely to mean that, initially at least and probably until 2014 at the earliest, Amoled and its HD and touch-screen variants will be reserved for high-end laptops, as well as for smartphones and tablets. ®
Screen idols: higher resolution means better laptops
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.