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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  • name99 - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    I hate to have to point out the obvious but you've said something REALLY stupid here.
    PDFs are not "terrible" on iPads. It's just that iBooks is a crappy PDF reader.

    Go to the App Store. Type in PDF Reader. You will see a hundred different possibilities, pretty much all of which allow you to crop PDFs. Personally I think GoodReader is the best because of its various synchronization abilities and its hierarchical filing system, but there are plenty of alternatives and even the free options are not too bad.
  • svojoe - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    I'm really happy to see pixel densities increasing. But really this is not revolutionary... my 4 year old HTC FUZE smart phone had a 2.8" screen, and a 640x480 resolution. I think that is 288PPI.

    Which would mean, its pixel density is 'higher' than the IP3. Its not as if this is 'amazing' innovation to me. However its nice because I've been thoroughly saddened by pixel counts dropping for the last 6 years.
  • name99 - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    (a) No-one is calling it revolutionary. They are calling it a really nice screen for a tablet.

    (b) It's a TABLET-SIZED screen, not a 2.8" screen. The fact that people could make SMALLER high-res screens years ago is not a secret.

    You're acting like someone who sees that you can now buy a thin LCD 46" TV for $500 and says "So what, we had color TVs thirty years. Admittedly they cost a fortune, and had a smaller screen, and weighed a ton, and were three feet deep, but they displayed TV and that's all that really matters".
  • svojoe - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Maybe you have not caught some of the hype over the ip3. I've heard people call the new screen "a huge leap forward", "magical clarity", etc etc. Maybe I am a bit put off by all this hoop-la. I haven't even seen one yet, but I'm sure its really amazing levels of detail. And that is good. In this instance I want to applaud apple for raising the bar. Because it has falling oh, so low the last several years when it comes to resolution and PPI.
  • Taurus229 - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    Brightness is OK, pixel count makes it shine !!!!!!! Goodbye Metro and Windows 8 !!!!!!!! Maybe now, Microsoft won't put all their eggs in one basket, and ignore corporate and desktop users.
  • ffletchs - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    you left out the best tablet display yet, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, the only tablet with Super AMOLED+ display
  • trane - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    In my opinion, the pixels per inch doesn't count for anything until you account for viewing distance.

    Consider iPhone and iPad, they call it a Retina display despite a lower PPI versus iPhone simply because people are looking at their tablets from further away than their phones.

    The iPad may have a 2.5x higher PPI than the 30 inch display, but you are looking at your iPad from 12-18 inches away, while a 30 inch display will need a 4-5 feet viewing distance. The iPad will certainly be 2.5x sharper than the 30 inch Cinema Display at the same viewing distance, but who looks at a 30 inch display from 1 feet out?! In fact, most people watch 32 inch HDTVs from as far as 10 feet away. So viewing distance must be accounted for.
  • rakez - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    sorry i still prefer widescreen. yes, even for my tablets.
  • Lucian Armasu - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    It seems the new Galaxy Tab 7.7 with a 5,100 kills the new iPad in battery efficiency, even though it has a more than twice as big battery at ~12,000 mAh. And it still manages to get around 200 PPI but on a Super AMOLED Plus display, which is preferable to any IPS display in my opinion.
  • doobydoo - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    It has a far smaller screen, much lower resolution, massively inferior GPU. It's no surprise that it can last longer. The 200 PPI is less useful given that typical users will hold it closer than the larger ~10 inch tablets.

    It's also more expensive than the new iPad in the UK.

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