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Displays Hardware Technology

Where Are All the High-Resolution Desktop Displays? 565

MrSeb writes "Ever since the release of the iPhone 4 with its 326 pixels-per-inch (PPI) Retina display, people have wondered about the lack of high-PPI desktop displays. The fact is, high-resolution desktop displays do exist, but they're incredibly expensive and usually only used for medical applications. Here, ExtremeTech dives into the world of desktop displays and tries to work out why consumer-oriented desktop displays seem to be stuck at 1920x1080, and whether future technologies like IGZO and OLED might finally spur manufacturers to make reasonably-priced models with a PPI over 100."
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Where Are All the High-Resolution Desktop Displays?

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  • by Xaduurv ( 1685700 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:23PM (#40265621)
    "Ever since the release of the iPhone 4 with its 326 pixels-per-inch (PPI) Retina display, people have wondered about the lack of high-PPI desktop displays" I'm pretty sure gamers have been wondering about this a heck of a lot longer than that!
  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:26PM (#40265639)

    It's because of 2 reasons.

    1) It's currently "good enough" for most people
    2) Because of the 1080 standard which has a large advantage due to economy of volume sales which would be lost with constant incremental improvements

    Basically, the cost is not justified for it's marketability (in most manufacturer's eyes).

  • by brusk ( 135896 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:32PM (#40265683)
    Chicken-and-egg: if such monitors were cheap and widespread, OS makers would quickly adjust.
  • Re:2560x1600? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:33PM (#40265701) Homepage

    2560x1600 30" is 100.63dpi. This is exactly what the article writer was complaining about; stagnent DPI.

    If that resolution was on a 9" screen then you would have roughly the equivalent DPI as an iPhone.

  • Re:No OS support. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:44PM (#40265759) Homepage

    If we have to wait for "proper" OS support, they'll never come - the OS support won't be fully fixed until there is a demand for it. And the higher cost/lower yield for high PPI display production means it's a risky, difficult task to try boostraping the market from the manufacturing side.

    I'm hoping a hybrid approach might be workable - at SIGGRAPH a few years ago, Microsoft was presenting work on technology for splitting a display signal up over multiple screens. If a way could be found to mount multiple iPhone-type screens into a monitor configuration and translate input over them, that might offer a viable way forward.

    High density PPI displays are extremely expensive to produce because of the zero-defect-over-large-surface-area manufacturing issues. Since iPhone screens are smaller and already being produced in large numbers, it might be more practical to splice a bunch of those together. Edge visibility when "stacked" is probably the greatest physical hurdle - I'd guess it's a toss up between that and the inability of current graphics cards to drive such a monitor for "biggest practical hurdle."

    Still, if one manufacturing process could turn out vast numbers of small screens that can either be used for phones or assembled into monitors... that seems to me like the only viable approach to the "too expensive to manufacture" problem you face with things like the IBM T221.

  • Re:No OS support. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:46PM (#40265777) Journal
    Honestly, even in the land of tight hardware control and contempt for legacy applications that is Apple's little post-PC-playground, the challenges of resolution changes are on display(literally)...

    Why is the 'retina display' 960x640? Because that's exactly twice as many pixels in each dimension as the 3GS's display, so trivial 1->4 pixel scaling wouldn't look like total suck. The same thing occurred when the iPad display received a resolution boost.

    Arbitrary DPI is a nontrivial problem, especially if you aren't willing to abandon all the legacy crap at the same time, and cherry-picked DPI increases that carefully match trivial special cases in scaling aren't cheap.
  • Re:Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:47PM (#40265787) Homepage

    You can actually get 16:10 displays with 1920x1200 resolution to a decent price. Those few extra pixels actually helps quite a bit.

    But if you are willing to go up to a larger screen, 27" or above then you can get a size of 2560x1440. But you have to pay for it.

    What we really need to do is to blame the HDTV format which forces us to get those letterbox size screens.

  • Not For Long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:50PM (#40265811)

    Things are about to change. In a couple of days, Apple will refresh all of their laptop and desktop machines with Retina displays. Once they do this, it won't be long before PC manufacturers start moving to higher-res displays, in order to keep up. Exactly the same happened with the MacBook Air and Intel's Ultrabook initiative.

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:52PM (#40265833) Homepage Journal

    Can you really not see the pixels? I suspect something to be wrong with your eyes.

  • Re:cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:56PM (#40265867)

    That's why we need dirty-rectangle updates, instead of this retarded continually full-refresh holdover from CRTs. For games and movies, the monitor should do the full-screen scaling, thus not needing some uber-bandwidth sci-fi connector.

  • by fredgiblet ( 1063752 ) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:57PM (#40265875)
    Not me. I'd rather have current resolution and anti-aliasing than a slightly higher resolution. Also I like not needing to have Quad-SLI to run last-gen games at low settings.

    I'm currently running a 19" monitor at 1440x900, when the next-gen graphics cards come out I'll probably upgrade to 1920x1200 (or 1080 if I have to) in the 20-22" range, and that will be good enough for me.
  • Re:Not For Long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @12:06AM (#40265933)

    And thank fucking god. As usual, Apple has to step in and raise the bar. God forbid some other company did anything. We'd be stuck with 1920x1080 and 1366x768 til the end of times if not for Apple doing what we expect them to do at WWDC.

  • by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @12:25AM (#40266055)

    "Ever since the release of the iPhone 4 with its 326 pixels-per-inch (PPI) Retina display, people have wondered about the lack of high-PPI desktop displays"

    I'm pretty sure gamers have been wondering about this a heck of a lot longer than that!

    I don't know if gamers in recent years care as much about this.

    If you're sitting on a couch 6+ feet from a TV or you're sitting a couple feet from a 27" monitor, I think putting more pixels per inch has diminishing returns relatively quickly.

    Personally, I'd be very interested in higher resolutions for larger displays, but the PPI issue is not as important to me.

  • by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @12:35AM (#40266095) Homepage

    High resolution without AA > low res with AA.

  • HD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Conspire ( 102879 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @12:48AM (#40266163) Homepage
    HD killed the mass market for higher and high definition displays. All the notebooks, even desktop displays no longer had to fight over resolutions, they all just went "HD". and hence the mass market settled on 'HD". The display makers were pleased, they could finally stop building new production lines every time DPI went up every 6 months before they got their capex back. The laptop makers were pleased, they could stop worrying about competing on display resolution in the mass market and spam out "HD" or even "HD Ready" on everything (HD Ready was SD with HDMI input...what a scam in itself". There are some interesting articles about how this phenomena killed the race for higher DPI displays in the mass market. Its been going on for years, the longest stagnation in the display mass market since the introduction of the PC to the masses............
  • Re:No OS support. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Endymion ( 12816 ) <slashdot,org&thoughtnoise,net> on Saturday June 09, 2012 @12:57AM (#40266203) Homepage Journal

    http://www.antigrain.com/research/font_rasterization/index.html [antigrain.com]

    It's even worse than that: the horrible legacy of hacks that windows uses pretty much guarantees that apps will always render horribly in anything by the default PPI. Their rounding "tricks" cause the text to scale inconsistently, as it's snapping individual letters to horizontal pixel boundaries. (err, it's more complicated than that; see the above link for a very well written discussion of the problem, and a very nice discussion of font rendering issues in general)

    As long as windows apps scale badly, there's a strong incentive to *not* produce a high-PPI display; customers would likely blame the monitor for "screwing up windows".

  • by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @01:05AM (#40266245)

    I don't need the "retina" aspect of it, I want the _pixels_. Even with virtual desktops I'm always running out of room...I'd be more efficient with a bigger screen.

    Sure, you can go multimonitor (and I do) but the gap between the screens just annoys me.

  • Re:IBM T221 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday June 09, 2012 @01:13AM (#40266275)

    I hear Apple may be releasing a higher resolution monitor on monday. We'll see. . .

  • Re:Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anethema ( 99553 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @01:17AM (#40266297) Homepage
    The only problem is this is barely over 100 ppi, which is kind of what the article writer is complaining about.

    I know you're just answering the grandparents question, showing the 27" for cheap, but it is no great stride in PPI.

    There was another post though saying gamers have been begging for higher PPI for a long time and I somewhat disagree. This is the area I would least want higher PPI. 1080p with nice anti aliasing etc.

    But for desktop use, web browsing, reading documents, etc higher ppi is a godsend.
  • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @02:12AM (#40266495) Journal

    Blinks. Looks at 3 30" monitors. Takes out a measuring tape and checks. Yup, all 30"

    Watchooalkinabout Willis ?

    I still use multiple virtual desktops. There's ne'er any shortage of things to take up screen real-estate, I mean Xcode can easily take all 3 screens, Eagle too (1 for schematic, 1 for layout, 1 for libraries etc), actually pretty much anything I do... A better question is "who needs a computer (raher than a ipad, say) and *couldn't* use multiple 30" monitors ?"


  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @03:40AM (#40266741) Journal

    Probably, but I'd appreciate at least 200. Meanwhile, what we typically get is about 100.

  • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @04:31AM (#40266867)

    Bureaucracy and penny-pinching can often override logical technical decisions that would actually result in a good product that people are willing to buy.

    I have a 17" laptop with a tiny, cramped, unusable keyboard on it that was clearly designed for a much smaller laptop. There's something like 6 cm of unused area on either side of the keyboard, but every key is mashed up against every other key to save millimeters of space that don't need saving.

    If any employees of Dell, HP, or Asus are reading this, print this out, walk up to your boss, and show him: You've saved maybe 50 cents per laptop by re-using the same keyboard part across every model, but I am willing to pay a $500 price premium to any company that is willing to sell me a laptop that has a standard sized keyboard. I type 50 pages of text or code per week. IT IS WORTH IT TO ME.

    To my knowledge, no such thing exists. Nobody is willing to take my money. Maybe I'm a unique and special flower, and too small a market to bother with, but I suspect that maybe, just maybe, there might be a few people out there who, you know... type things... with their laptop keyboards.

    Once some dumbass starts the race to the bottom, and every company in a market is doing the same thing, it can be hard to break of the endless cycle of shaving features or quality to under-bid the other guy. It takes vision to come up with a "revolutionary" product -- which is often blindingly obvious -- to shift the market. An example is Apple: they demonstrated that mobile phones don't need to shave cents off by using teeny-tiny screens. Customers are perfectly willing to pay $1000 for a phone that isn't made to the lowest possible spec, and they're now giving that money to Apple instead of Nokia. Remember Nokia? They're the company that used to be the biggest phone manufacturer in the world.

    PC Monitors are in the same boat. When Windows 7 was announced, I got all excited about "deep colour", improved high DPI support, etc... I looked into monitors and whatnot too see if I could get a significant upgrade. Turns out that there are something like 4 or 5 models total that support 30-bit colour, none that support 36-bit, and most only at 1920x1080 or below. You can have high-resolution and deep colour, but not in combination with 120Hz or 3D. Don't even bother looking, because Displayport cables can't transmit that much data, and the only HDMI displays that go that high are all TVs.

  • Re:Easy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:54AM (#40267087)

    Eh, the real problem is the benefits of PPI tend to aesthetic rather then practical.

    Like, I'd much rather use all those extra pixels to increase my work area since I don't need all that many of them to resolve text.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:04AM (#40267101) Journal

    I started wondering when I got my Nokia 770 in 2006 with its 225dpi screen. A few months later, I used a 23" IBM monitor with the same resolution... which cost $10K. And then the reason became quite obvious. Modern displays are solid state parts. Just like ICs, they have a defect rate per area, which translates to dead or stuck pixels. As the feature size increases, the chance of defects increases. The bigger the display, the more chance that a defect will result in some dead or stuck pixels. If you make a single 27" panel, one defect will make it unsellable. If you make the same area of TFT but make it into smaller panels, then a defect will just make one unsellable[1].

    There's also the secondary issue that unless you scale the DPI by a factor of 2 users are likely to see aliasing effects in bitmap rendering, and so perceive the display as being worse, which is why we don't see many intermediate sizes.

    [1] Or, at least, harder to sell. There are lots of applications, such as control panels for industrial equipment, where a dead pixel or two is unimportant, and companies making these are quite happy to pay a bit less for slightly lower quality small panels. Selling defective 27" displays is much harder.

  • by jpapon ( 1877296 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @07:08AM (#40267287) Journal
    As far as I can tell, they're only available on Ebay, shipping directly from Korea.

    I may be wrong, but I suspect there's something in place preventing these from being imported to the US/European markets for resale. Dell may have some sort of deal with the panel manufacturer or something.

    There has to be something like that, since the price (shipping included) is ~$300... meaning you could probably import them to the US in bulk for under $250. They would sell like hotcakes at $350, especially since they're the same panel as the Dell U2711, but with an LED backlight instead of the power hungry tube used in the Dell. It's basically the Apple Cinema Display at a third of the price.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @08:26AM (#40267535)

    While a first post off topic troll. I will relate it with the topic at hand.
    The key reason why we don't have high resolution PC displays, is partially because the current Operating Systems, are not configured to use them.
    Sure they may be able to support the resolution, however your start bar will be very tiny and unreadable, on windows, in Linux Unity will be this very thin little strip with some static in the corner, OS X will have a tiny doc. The apps will be too small to read, especially for older viewers who still keep their 20" screens at 800x600 display.

    I have an RDP app for my iPhone, I configured the setting to connect to a windows server at the phone native resolution. The start bar wasn't that much bigger then 1 or 2 pixel high on at 300x200 display, on a 17" monitor.

    Now many of the next generation Desktop Operating Systems, are trying to move away from the 72ppi idea, and make their systems more resolution independent. But they are not quite out there yet. Once the OS's start supporting these screens and displaying apps that are viewable, then the hardware makers will put more effort into making systems with such displays.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard