Friday, November 16, 2012

More is Better

Today's lead article in VentureBeat discusses the new iPad Mini. Though the term "display" is used 5 times in the article, extolling the importance of the display, the lead-in photo (shown here) shows just how challenging it is using a mobile device outdoors. As seen in the photo, the contrast could not be much more than 10 to 1. In "Wither Pixel Qi" I discuss my surprise that the mobile industry does not move toward displays with better outdoor visibility. Though generating good color in an outdoor display is something of a challenge, there are alternatives to a standard LCD that provide trade-offs that might be more appropriate for a mobile device.

The author also goes on to give a generic definition of a "retina display","...instead of the lush Retina Display resolutions of 2048 by 1536, we get the same 1024 by 768 resolution we were so happy to run away from two years ago. (Since the iPad Mini’s screen is smaller, its resolution still looks sharper than on previous iPads.) It is described as a pixel format rather than a pixel density (pixels per inch) or a brand name. In, "Your existing HDTV is already a true 'Retina Display' ” in August's High Resolution Raymond Soneira explains the human factors of the pixel density perspective on classifying displays. In describing how the display "looks sharper than previous iPads" the VentureBeat author also makes reference to the human factors but at the same time ascribes the 2048 x 1536 resolution as "lush" apparently independent of screen size or pixel density.

As display professionals, we know, that especially in small displays, more pixels = less aperture which equals a dimmer screen. The challenged performance of the screen in daylight, as seen in the image would be that much worse with a "retina display" per the author's terms. However, in the minds of many, more is always better even when their eye's tell them such is not the case.

In "Trinitron, Retina, & What do you call an Apple TV" I compare the Trinitron name with the marketing mojo in "retina display". In a large sense, Trintron had an advantage in that most consumers had no idea what a Trintron was, only that it was better. Others could introduce sets using the trinitron technology (such as Mitsubishi's Diamondtron); however, because they could not use the Trintron trade name, Sony was in an unassailable position. If consumers have a specific idea what "retina" means, a specific number, then it is a small matter to equal or even out-do "retina" with a "more is better" spec.

Even better, someone can fix or improve the daylight performance. As I have related before, in TV set marketing, frequently the industry will focus on a specific spec, pushing it to performance levels beyond human comprehension.... until someone steps out of line and starts pushing a different spec. Brightness wars, were followed by contrast wars until the CRT industry settled on Black level. In the mobile wars, fixing the resolution issue was an obvious first step to enabling smartphones as a platform. Now that the issue is fixed, I expect that the device makers will move on. If more is better, how about some more outdoor contrast.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. I agree with your points... They should also focus on the contrast outside.


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