Going Into the Pixel: Retina Display Under a Microscope

If we take a few (or an order of magnitude) more steps closer to the display and put it under the microscope we can get an even better appreciation for exactly what Samsung (and Apple's other display vendors) have done with the creation of this panel. Below are shots at 50x magnification of the display from the iPad 2, new iPad, ASUS TF Prime and iPhone 4S, organized from lowest to highest DPI:

Apple iPad 2, 1024 x 768, 9.7-inches

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, 1280 x 800, 10.1-inches

Apple iPad Retina Display (2012), 2048 x 1536, 9.7-inches

Apple iPhone 4S, 960 x 640, 3.5-inches

What you're looking at here are shots of the three subpixels for each pixel. Subpixel shapes will vary by panel type/manufacturer (hence the iPhone 4S vs. iPad subpixel structure), but the increase in density is tremendous.

Pixel Density Quantifying Display Performance: Big Gamut Gains
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  • doobydoo - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    Apple gets suppliers such as Sharp, LG and Samsung to make displays to its own design and specifications, they were not created by any of those three. That is generally the case with any industry. Sharp, LG and Samsung will in turn have suppliers who manufacturer the items they need to manufacturer the screens, so technically if you're a fan of Samsung or Samsung phones you are actually a fan of their suppliers.

    The key point, however, is that it's the Apple design which allows the high resolution display to work, in a way that Samsung hasn't managed to do in a tablet yet. Without Apple, we wouldn't have a tablet with that high resolution.
  • WaltFrench - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    Just in case @Graag's wit goes over your head: some of us are fans of well-made, well-supported devices that leverage and enhance our skills by providing a platform of tools. I don't care who makes the polarizing filters or the power switch or any of a thousand other parts if I'm buying a device where somebody else sweat those details for me.

    If I want something I can pretend to be the engineer for, I'll buy a Chia Pet. Much cheaper way of getting involved.
  • jecastejon - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    But no combination of components, parts or companies mentioned by yourself makes an iPad. You are just playing with worlds and concepts but frankly reality is beyond that.

    The iPad still is different from other tablets and may be good or not but "consumers" can tell and feel the difference. Apple created the iPad tablet for consumer so is pointless to argue against this, and also to point that because most mayor components are supplied by other companies Apple is not adding something else to the experience. Apple creates the soul of the iPad, and the OS, and in combination with other companies adapts, combines and fine tunes those components to achieve a specific Apple vision and direction.

    I read about technology to understand what a device can do for me, if the device is good for what I intent to do then I see the price and decide if I am still willing to pay for it. But in the process the less I need is "politics". The new iPad with the retina display is getting closer to what I expect a tablet to do for me, but as tempting as it may be, I think I am going to wait for the next version. And, that shows I don't really need a tablet.

    In a tablet, that I may use as a consumer, I don't feel dumb for using a consumer device. At the current underpowered CPU stage for tablets, I prefer the quality of the screen and the graphic power. But I am not going to produce my work on a tablet, yet.
  • Morelian - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    I already know I will get a new Ipad to replace my original, like the iphones I am an every other generation purchaser. The Ipad 2 didn't have anything that tugged at my wallet, but the screen on the new Ipad is the deal. I take my Ipad to work to read emails on my lunch break, cause damned if I like reading them on the Iphone. Everything so far I've seen says the new screen enhances reading, and that is what I do on my Ipad.

    Now, if Anand would only come out with the full review so I can decide if I want the Verizon flavor or the ATT flavor.
  • dvinnen - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    You have this extremely high res screen which is great but how do webpages work?

    Take this site for example, it is designed to only be 1000px wide according to the CSS (the new 3D web page inspector in the latest FF is really cool and made finding that out easy). The tablet will have a width of ~2000 or ~1500px. So how does it display? On a PC I don't have my browser fullscreen so this isn't an issue but will obviously be one on the iPad. I guess it could have a smart zoom and zoom in and get rid of the side bars but wouldn't that screw up images? No filter will ever make artificially blowing up an image look good to me.
  • madmilk - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Mobile browsers have never respected the CSS spec in regards to pixels, because of strange screen sizes and pixel densities in comparison to a laptop or desktop. It looks like to me that the iPad, new and old, tries to render to a 1024px wide screen equivalent in both orientations. It also likely reflows some stuff that won't fit, so keep that in mind.

    Yes, it does blow up images. No, you will not notice the effects, as the characteristic blockiness and blurriness only appears if the source image resolution is too low in comparison to what your eye can perceive. Most likely, the images will still be a good deal smaller than their appearance on a laptop screen, for example, so they should still be sharp.
  • Solandri - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    That's something I haven't seen any reviews address. I assume it scales website dimensions by 2x, otherwise a 1024x768 web page would take up a quarter of the 9.7" screen real estate.

    That brings up an important point though - while web-based text will look clearer, web-based photos and icons will not. They may look smoother, but due to the scaling they will not look any sharper.
  • tipoo - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    They're just scaled like non-native res apps are. Its displayed like it would be on the old 1024x768 display.

    I think images are downsampled to save processing time too, according to the tomshardware review.
  • zlandar - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    As some who uses pays the premium for 1900x1200 IPS panels on pc computing the new display was the clincher.

    Typing this on the new iPad and the web browsing is seamless. Viewing videos and especially pictures shows off the display.
  • Khenglish - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    I hope this new ultra high pixel density screen will push manufacturers to bring higher screen resolutions to computer monitors. I do not understand why monitors have not advanced beyond my 16" CRT from 2002 that can do 2048x1536. Instead of pixel density going up, it's gone DOWN since then with the most recent high res standard 1920x1080 coming in at 23" or larger, and 2560x1600 screens are 27"+.

    I would love to see 2560x1600 come down to say 20 inches. I'd rather not have a 30" screen in my face that I have to turn my head for to look from one corner to the other.

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