We're hard at work on our review on the new iPad but with a fair bit of display analysis under our belts I thought a quick post might be in order. One of the major features of the new iPad is its 2048 x 1536 Retina Display. Apple kept the dimensions of the display the same as the previous two iPad models, but doubled the horizontal and vertical resolution resulting in a 4x increase in pixels. As display size remained unchanged, pixel density went through the roof:

Pixel Density Comparison

Although the iPad 2 has a fairly high pixel density compared to most of Apple's Mac/display lineup, you're more likely to hold a tablet closer to your eyes which made the low resolution/pixel density problematic. The new iPad addresses this issue as you can see from the chart above. I can't focus closely enough to the panel to actually make out pixels on the new iPad, much less at a normal viewing distance. With the aid of a macro lens we can definitely identify individual pixels. The improvement over the iPad 2 display is striking:

To the left we have the original 1024 x 768 panel, and to the right we have the new Retina Display. At this distance you can still identify individual pixels, an ability that quickly vanishes at normal viewing distances. The Music app icon is an even better example of what you gain from the newer display as it has more high contrast edges that appear more aliased on the 1024 x 768 panel:

The old iPad's 1024 x 768 resolution was fairly bothersome when it came to reading text on web pages or books. Most Android tablets standardizing on 1280 x 800 offered an advantage in that respect, albeit not delivering significantly higher pixel density. The new iPad completely resolves this issue. Hover over the links below to see roughly the same paragraph of text from our retail Radeon HD 7870 review on the iPad 2, new iPad and ASUS Transformer Prime:

Apple iPad 2 Apple iPad (3rd gen) ASUS TF Prime
original original original

While it's still obvious that you're looking at a screen and not an e-ink display, the pixels perform a good disappearing act on the new iPad.

Going Into the Pixel: Retina Display Under a Microscope
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  • ssddaydream - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    Any LCD annoys me.
    Backlight bleed, viewing angles, color saturation being dependent on viewing angles, black level detail, the filter array's graininess, ITS SMALL, low color gamut, etc.
    Why don't you do some research and actually go look at a high-quality CRT display or compare SAMOLED+ to LCD?
  • myhipsi - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    You're comparing the characteristics of a low quality LCD to a high quality CRT:

    If you buy a high quality IPS LCD display, viewing angles are practically a non-issue (nor is color saturation). Color gamut on the Dell u3011 for example is 117% of AdobeRGB, how's that "small" or "low"? Geometry on an LCD is perfect, can't say the same for CRT. LCD also beats out CRT in sharpness. I will admit, like I did in my OP, that black levels are inherently not as good on LCDs due to the backlight.

    I'll submit that the preference for either LCD or CRT is completely subjective, so I can understand you suggesting that you PREFER a CRT over an LCD, but to say that LCD annoys you (IOW looks like crap) is a stretch.
  • medi01 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    "best" display eh? Ever compared it to Galaxy I or II with AMOLED?

    I recall iPad 2 used to have "best screen" too. And now we discover that it's 49% of adobe rgb vs 63% on Galaxy Tab.
  • doobydoo - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I don't think anyone ever claimed the iPad 2 had the best screen.

    Screen taste is largely subjective. A lot of people can't tell the difference in actual use between the Super AMOLED and the IPS LCD in the new iPad. They can definitely tell there is an increase in resolution though.

    That being said, I think the screens on the Galaxy are good, but that's about the only thing which is good on them. They are even more expensive than the new iPad too. Insane.
  • myhipsi - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I said, "ONE of the best", and yes, I have compared it to the Samsung Galaxy screen, it looks cheap and over saturated in comparison.
  • medi01 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Oh yeah, baby. And first iPads run latest OSes soo smothly, right? :))
    A friend of mine with an iPad is very pissed off about it. After update to 5.x It crashes on him several times a day, is slow AND he cannot downgrade.

    A nice way to force your customer to buy moar from you.
  • doobydoo - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I know loads of people with original iPads running the latest version with no issues at all.

    If you want to talk about forcing your customer to buy 'moar' from you - look no further than all the Android tablets, many of which don't even have ICS yet, which was released 5 months ago.

    At least Apple users get support for a decent period of time. If they want to roll back to the previous version of iOS, they can too, so no harm done if they don't like it.
  • medi01 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Uhm, how is 4:3 a good thing? Tried to watch videos on it?
  • doobydoo - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    4:3 is better for portrait mode (which is the position used the most).

    It's worse for videos, so it's a trade off either way. Most people prefer the device to work better for more of the time so 4:3 is good for them.
  • vol7ron - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    I think the iPad3 would get more hype if it supported Flash :)

    Not to beat a dead horse (again), but let's face it, the iPad technology improved, but it's more like a iPad 2.5 release, rather than a 3. It kind of seems like the iPhone 4S disappointment, which to me signifies Apple's struggle in delivering something truly remarkable and inspiring. -- if Jobs hadn't passed, this is something I was waiting on... to see how stagnant design would become.

    I don't own the iPad and it seems if I wanted one, I'd buy the iPad 2, only I still think $399 is still too much. I'd be a buyer at $299 (new or refurbished). I guess I'll wait to see the new Android offering :)

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