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Displays Upgrades Hardware

HDTV Has Ruined the LCD Market 952

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-got-raisins-you-like-raisins dept.
alvin67 writes "Microsoft Evangelist Pete Brown rants about the lack of pixels available in today's LCD screens: 'OK, that's it. I've had it. I want my pixels, damn it! For a while, screen resolution has been going up on our desktop displays. The trend was good, as I've always wanted the largest monitor with the highest DPI that I could afford. I mean, I used to have one of the first hulking 17-inch CRTs on my desk. I later upgraded to a 21-inch job that was so huge, that if you didn't stick it in a corner, it took up the whole desk. It was flat-panel, though and full of pixels. It cost me around $1,100 at the time." After some years of improvements, we've regressed, in Brown's opinion: "At the rate we were going for a while, we should have had twice or three times the DPI on a 24- or 23-inch screen. But nooo."
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HDTV Has Ruined the LCD Market

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  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @08:47PM (#31948880) Homepage
    You're doing it wrong. You should be increasing the DPI setting in your operating system, which will let you increase the size of things but will let them have far more detail. This should lead to a better browsing experience because the text will be more legible.
  • by zill (1690130) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @08:56PM (#31948992)
    Display resolution and pixel pitch peaked back in 2001 with the introduction of IBM T220 []. Even now, no production display can top its resolution and pixel pitch.

    Why aren't we all using WQUXGA, WHSXGA, or even WHUXGA display right now?
    Simple, there's no demand for it.

    Why isn't there any demand for it?
    Because 90% of the consumers are still watching 480p DVD and DTV broadcasts.
    Because lots of websites are still designed to be optimally viewing in 1024x768.
    Because most operating systems and applications have their font sizes hardcoded (Windows 7 only allow system fonts to be enlarged by 150% while OSX cannot adjust its system font size at all).
  • get bigger displays (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @08:56PM (#31948998)

    The market is getting there. New 22" and 24" displays are coming out that have 1920x1080 (or 1200) resolutions, and recent 27" displays like on the latest iMac and a Dell 27" display have 2560x1440 (the 16:9 version of the 16:10 2560x1600 30" displays). You should be careful about some of these monitors, as many of them are large gamut displays that require calibration, and they're generally not going to be for gaming, as they're H-IPS panels. But they're really beautiful. I'm waiting for some detailed reviews on the new HP zr24w display - 1920x1200 (16:10 FTW!) with regular color gamut. I want the wide viewing angles, but I'm not _that_ picky about color. $425, I think.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:01PM (#31949046) Journal
    16:9 and 16:10 screens actually kick ass for text, assuming you have the right setup.

    Most programs and websites(in terms of sidebars and toolbars and stuff) are still laid out for screens that are wider than they are tall, so you do usually need one monitor in the usual configuration.

    Your second monitor, though, you just rotate so that it is now taller than it is wide, and offers rather more horizontal resolution than any but the nicest 4:3 monitors ever did.

    All but the cheapest video cards support dual monitors(and we are talking really cheap here. the 20-30 dollar card might not; but for $50 you'll have a hard time not getting dual monitor support, albeit often 1VGA, 1DVI), and the software is mature enough(you'll have to suffer through looking at your BIOS bootup sideways on one of the screens; but you'll survive).

    Unless your environment is quite space constrained, or has to fit in a laptop bag and go with you, a second monitor, rotated so that its dimensions closely match those of your common paper document, is a fairly cheap way to make an office-type worker's life more pleasant and productive.
  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:03PM (#31949066) Homepage
    Don't think of sizes in terms of pixels -- think of them in inches. The current thing on your screen that takes up 10 inches of space, wouldn't you like it to have twice the detail, while staying at 10 inches? I'd love for my text to have twice the detail, becoming easier to read. Maybe websites could start using serif fonts, which are generally regarded as more legible but also tough to use on most present-day monitors because of the low DPI. That's what high DPI is for -- more detail, not to make things smaller.
  • by TopSpin (753) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:05PM (#31949090) Journal

    People do care. Just not about resolution. People care about price.

    How many 1080i/p TVs are sold for every WUXGA (1920x1200) display? 10-1? 50-1? I don't know but I'm betting there are a lot more TVs being shifted. The LCD manufacturers have most of their capacity allocated to HDTV panels. This makes for low, low prices.

    So when Joe Blow waddles his 290lbs ass into Best Buy to pick up a display he has a choice; he can get the super-cheap on-sale rebated HDTV that works just fine with his 'puter due to HDMI, or he can pay a $100 premium for a *real* monitor with the extra 120 pixels. Which one do you think gets added to the $20,000 card balance?

  • by Bourdain (683477) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:12PM (#31949186)
    This only works, to varying extents, in the more modern OS's.

    For example, the relevant application(s) has to be DPI aware as well as either have additional higher resolution raster based graphics or use something like SVG []
  • Re:Apple Displays. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:29PM (#31949370)

    102ppi isn't really all that high. A 2010 Macbook Pro at 1680x1050 is 128ppi, And a 4th gen iPod Nano is 204ppi. There's even 15.4" notbook displays that are 147ppi (1920x1200).

    Just saying.

  • by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:32PM (#31949406) Homepage

    between a 300dpi printed sheet of paper, and a 1200dpi glossy magazine page? Most people can, pretty easily. By comparison, the standard 24" WUXGA monitor is a pathetic 94dpi.

    The IBM T220 (22" @ 3840 x 2400, released 2001) was 204 dpi, and looked glorious. Modern phone screens are 250-270dpi, so we can potentially manufacture a 24" 5230 x 2940 screen, and it would look amazing, like a quality printed brochure but with full interaction, though still less than anyone with 20/20 vision can perceive.

    This would be hugely useful for any number of visual-oriented industries (pre-press, photography, cinema, medical, data exploration etc), and a pretty large number of geeks too. What's stopping us? (Hint: it's not graphics cards - even cheap cards can manage 3840x2400 these days. It's idiot consumers who say "I want low & chunky resolution, otherwise my text is too small to see").

  • by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:41PM (#31949504) Homepage

    Windows 7 only allow system fonts to be enlarged by 150%

    Not true. The Set Custom Text Size setting allows up to 500%, i.e. 480dpi.

  • by npsimons (32752) * on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:43PM (#31949522) Homepage Journal

    This is something that drives me crazy. I bought a screen with a relatively high DPI, and on half the websites I visit now the content is provided on some kind of fixed size (in pixels) flash thingee.

    This is just another in a long line of examples of why Flash is Evil.

  • by toadlife (301863) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:58PM (#31949664) Journal

    They're on the screen of my HTC Touch Pro 2 (259 DPI), and other smart phones like the Nexus One (252 DPI).

  • by Z34107 (925136) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:00PM (#31949688)

    This is a lot better on Vista/7. Legacy programs at high DPI are bitmap enlarged to maintain correct proportions. (Although yes, this does make some programs look fuzzy.) Smarter programs that handle DPI properly can set a flag in their application manifest if they handle different DPI properly. .NET programs written using WPF are entirely vector based, and so scale to any resolution.

    This was wonderful for my grandparents - they had been running XP at 640x480 because of their poor vision. When they got a Windows 7 computer, we ran the screen at its native resolution and just turned the DPI settings way down.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:20PM (#31949836)

    I guess you're incapable of finding the DPI settings in your OS.

    DPI settings out of the norm tend to cause all sorts of problems with various program. It's not a coherent solution.

    You probably also wish we were still using dot matrix printers with a DPI less than 100. All those extra dots in modern printing must hurt your eyes.

    Yes, I'm certain that that's exactly what he wants. You are exceptionally astute.

  • Re:Apple Displays. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mario_grgic (515333) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:42PM (#31950048)

    Actually, 17'' Macbook pro with 1920x1200 has 133 DPI, while 30'' ACD is only 107 DPI by comparison.

  • It is called Deep Color [].
  • by Khyber (864651) <> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:07PM (#31950270) Homepage Journal

    "I think Mr 'Evangelist' Brown should accept the fact that cramming more and more pixels into displays will make them more and more expensive."

    Just for the fuck of it I did a physical pixel count on my screen. Turns out 27 RGB subpixels create a 3x3 grouping of 3 RGB subpixels per section to make one pixel. I used mspaint to drop a white pixel on a black background to check.

    That's for 1080p. Imagine if I could just render at the TRUE native resolution of the panel, which is higher than the 1080p it is limited to with each pixel occupying a 3x3 space of 27 subpixels.

    That would be damned sharp, and finally a test for graphics cards.

  • by bar-agent (698856) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:36PM (#31950564)

    Because NeXT is dead... :(

    An explanation, for those who don't know:

    NeXT supported "Display PostScript," which is basically what it sounds like. Thus, unlimited scaling and DPI, splines, fonts, etc.... Basically, applying laser printer techniques to your screen.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday April 23, 2010 @12:35AM (#31951046) Journal

    .NET programs written using WPF are entirely vector based, and so scale to any resolution.

    This is mostly correct, but (having worked on a large real-world WPF application) there is a catch. There's nothing precluding a WPF application from using bitmaps in its UI - there is full support for that - and, of course, the bitmaps can't be scaled smoothly. They will be scaled, but you'll get the same "blurred pixels" effect.

    This is why VS2010 doesn't scale perfectly, to give an example. In contrast, Expression Blend uses XAML vector images for its icons - and therefore scales everything smoothly.

  • by kevinmenzel (1403457) <kevinmenzel@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Friday April 23, 2010 @12:43AM (#31951106)
    DPI is different than resolution. Think about it this way - imagine, the circle that indicates that you close a window is physically .25" in diameter at 640x480. (Obviously that's a made up number). Now imagine you have more pixels avaliable. You can either make that circle smaller (same number of pixels, but the pixels are a smaller size), or make that circle more detailed (increased number of pixels used to render the shape at the same size). Changing your resolution accomplishes the first situation - the higher you set your resolution, the smaller everything on your screen gets. On an LCD screen, one issue that comes up is that the display looks "best" at it's native resolution. So making things bigger, also tends to make things blurry or ugly or distorted, etc. If you could make things bigger by adjusting the DPI, AND your operating system/application supported it, you could take advantage of those small pixels to render your big object more clearly. On today's screens, if you have great eyesight you might say "So what? Things look pretty good right now... and I like how everything is small." However, what some people want are high DPI screen - ie, screens where the number of dots per inch approaches the equivalent of printed text. So where a screen might have 72 DPI (lets say dots are pixels), so a native resolution of 72 pixels per inch, what some people want is a screen where that might be instead 300 DPI, or 600 DPI... or whatever. The benefit of this would be that - if your screen has so many pixels that the eye physically can't distinguish one from the other, then text that's 1" high is gonna look smooth. A game rendered at the new ludicrously high resolution, wouldn't need anti-aliasing, because you wouldn't be able to distinguish between the pixels anyway, so stuff wouldn't render "blocky". Etc. The problem is - when you can't adjust the DPI, instead of having something look crisp, you'd just have something that's really tiny. That .25" circle becomes too small to see. All that 12 point text becomes illegible greyish lines. However, the other problem is, when you CAN adjust the DPI, SO many applications break, because they've all been developed to ASSUME a certain DPI, so either the layout breaks, or the text doesn't flow properly, or raster graphics look ugly when scaled up, etc. Which is why, say, Apple getting rid of the ability to change the DPI could be frustrating to people who want high DPI devices - because if the OPTION doesn't exist, then you can't even see what WOULD break. And it indicates that the developer of the OS probably doesn't care too much about things breaking.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday April 23, 2010 @12:49AM (#31951154) Journal

    Some apps just plain ignore the DPI setting, while others display funny, such as chopped-off text because it "grows" outside of intended sizing-box boundaries.

    In Vista and above, the application has to explicitly say in its manifest that it's DPI-aware (i.e. the author has to claim that he understands the issues). This is a new manifest setting that wasn't present in XP. Any application that doesn't have that setting in its manifest will be treated as non-DPI-aware (even if it really is).

    What this means in practice is that Windows will tell it to render at 92 DPI (the old default, to which everyone normally codes), and then scale the produced bitmap as needed - as a bitmap. The result is pixellated, of course, but at least the layout is completely preserved, so you won't see chopped-off text on controls etc.

    Companies don't seem to test their apps very well at higher DPI, perhaps because they are multi-language apps, which means testing at both common and high DPI for every language.

    Actually, multi-language apps are more likely to be handling high DPI better, because most languages have longer words compared to English. So those apps would either have to use flexible layouts (so that controls auto-adjust size to text labels) - which means that they will just scale up with more text; or they use fixed layouts, but upsize controls so that extra text on any localization would still fit - which means that text enlarged via DPI is more likely to fit, as well.

  • by baka_vic (769186) on Friday April 23, 2010 @01:43AM (#31951480)
    Philips' Perfect Panel Warranty is exactly that - no dead pixels at all. Of course they have a lower priced version of the panel without the comprehensive warranty.
  • by iamhassi (659463) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:11AM (#31951652) Journal
    "Youll get the 4Kx2K monitor when 4Kx2K video becomes mainstream. Astro Systems DM-3400 56" Professional 4K LCD Monitor"

    According to this calculator [], 4000x2000 on a 56" is only 80ppi. He's already complaining about 96ppi so I'm sure he won't like 80.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:50AM (#31951832)

    The defective (sub)pixel problem is thankfully a non-issue in Europe, due to strong consumer protection laws: Online buyers can return their purchase within 14 days - no questions asked, all money reimbursed including P+P for both directions (if the purchase price was >40 EUR). So basically, if you get a lemon, you can send it back without any monetary cost to you.

    I bet anyone's immediate reaction to such a rule would be that "all Internet merchants will go bankrupt!" However, considering that this specific consumer protection rule has been in effect for about 10 years all over Europe now, it appears to work just fine.

  • by beelsebob (529313) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:52AM (#31951840)

    OS X uses "Display PDF", Display PostScript's successor. It basically does the exact same thing, but with rather more flexibility, unfortunately, apple's 3D accelerated implementations are a bit buggy at the moment :(. Changing the base resolution in 10.6 actually gets surprisingly close to what it should do though, so there's hope yet.

  • by LinuxAndLube (1526389) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:56AM (#31952146)
    I use high DPI settings on notebooks with small, but very high resolution screens. The result is beautiful and easy on the eyes. A bit like reading print.

    Much popular MS software is DPI-aware. For example, IE8 is. Chrome and most applications by other software makers, unfortunately, are not.

    It would be great if more software makers would make their products DPI-aware. Sometimes it can be done on the cheap. For example, all WPF applications automatically are DPI-aware.
  • by Big_Breaker (190457) on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:24AM (#31954256)

    Yep, draw your GUI on a large resolution 200 DPI virtual screen AKA buffer and let a GPU scale it back down to the physical display's native resolution.

    Before Blu-Ray and HD-DVD there were not that many sources of HD content and people with HTPCs would upscale, filter and down res DVDs to try to clean up the picture. It wasn't 1080P blu-ray but it was better than the original, normally rendered picture to many people's eyes.

    It would still have scaling artifacts but it wouldn't / shouldn't look too bad. Alternatively use SVG for everything... that's the best solution.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:26AM (#31954284) Homepage Journal

    Bitmap pictures are easily scaled. Loss of quality is a minor issue compared to a postage-stamp-sized pic that shouldn't be so small.

    This is truly a non-trivial problem when you're trying to make page loads as small as possible. In order to gracefully allow image scaling I'll need multiple resolutions (they can be generated programatically when needed, but still must be cached on disk for performance reasons) and I'll need to use some javascript to replace the image with the higher-resolution version if they scale. Ideally I'd detect if they have scaled up before I even sent them content. Or in other words, it's a lot harder than you think.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:39AM (#31954460)

    Second this. Vista / Windows 7 were both scheduled to handle resolution-independent UI rendering, and neither of them can. Until the OS can render icons at 3/4ths of an inch at super-high DPI, most people will want a screen appropriately sized for their inputs. Similarly, web pages and other rendering will need to be resolution-independent... though the OS comes first.

    Have you tried it in Vista/Windows 7? It's really, really good... I'm not sure exactly how they could improve it, frankly, except maybe increasing the possible magnification factor. (IIRC, it stops at 200% now.) Whenever I see complaints like yours, I have to kind of wonder if you've actually tried using the feature, or if you're just ranting from habit...

    Either way, I think you're being really unfair, especially compared to Apple who has been promising the same thing in OS X since version freakin' 10.2 and hasn't shown the teeniest bit of progress in all that time.

    Make sure you turn off "XP-style DPI scaling" when you set it-- the XP-style scaling still leaves layout up to the app, which is why apps that don't use native layout tools (like Adobe apps and GTK+ apps) will still look correct.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:57AM (#31954668)

    Windows has a similar system. No one really wants to use it anymore 'because its old' or 'because its hard'. I admit bitmaps are much easier though. Remember we are talking early late 80s early 90s computers where memory and disk space was at a premium. They did things like splines, circles, rects, 'truetype fonts', etc all in the basic GDI functions. They had to because they couldnt ship a DVD worth of bitmaps to pretty up the applications. These are all 'resolution' independent (you can set it to be resolution dependent if you pass it the right calls). In fact if you get past the cruft of many API's out there in GDI windows land most things are in a resolution independent space. Now it all falls apart because many device driver guys and microsoft themselves set DPI=screen res. However many GDI functions unfortunatly are 'leaky interfaces' and come apart at the seems too as they were not consistent with it. At less than 96DPI this works well and looks good. Above that though the whole thing flys apart and everything looks 'stretched' out because not all the subsystems are doing the same math. Then there is the DirectX apis. Many of them are in pixels. But remember it was a 'gaming API'. Which means 'use the max out of your computer if you can' kind of application.

    Another problem is the tools to build windows itself are 'wonky'. You create a dialog in dialog units. Then set your font to be 8 point font. So you could in theory end up with a 'huge window' with a tiny font in the middle. If windows were to scale it properly you would have a large window with large text in it. Instead it does some wrong math on it and creates windows with a tiny font and stretched out buttons on it. The font subsystem is in pixels and it shows.

    The problem is they cant just 'fix it'. There are literally thousands upon thousands of applications out there that now depend on the 1 to 1 mapping. Many would look like garbage if you fix it up.

    In windows 7 they have actually done a few things under the hood and it is better. In fact my new computer the dpi was set to 125% dpi. Took me a couple of days to figure out why everything 'seemed bigger'. When I was used to 100% dpi. I havent fiddled with it yet. Everything was stretched properly (why it took me a couple of days to notice). But they may have got it right finally. So in theory you could set 1 inch to be 1 inch on the screen . Anyone else out there messing with this sort of thing?

  • by jdgeorge (18767) on Friday April 23, 2010 @10:59AM (#31955548)

    Besides when his eyes go in a few years he won't care about the high resolutions anymore.

    Because he is staring at low resolution screens! For the sake of your eyes, get a high resolution display!

    This is incorrect. His eyes will go in a few years because once you hit the age of about 40 years, the lens in your eyes become less flexible, making it harder to focus on objects that are relatively close. See presbyopia [].

  • by willy_me (212994) on Friday April 23, 2010 @11:11AM (#31955724)

    The question is how and why Apple broke this when they got their hands on NeXTStep.

    In order to support Carbon which was required for 90% + of the initial OSX applications - even components of OSX such as Quicktime. The changeover to OSX was actually quite successful considering how big a change it was. Now people have more or less abandoned Carbon in favour of Cocoa but it was still an important stepping stone for all of those Classic MacOS developers.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.