Syzygy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The quest for resolution independence

I sent this in an e-mail to a friend who was complaining about the lack of high DPI (dots per inch) consumer-grade LCD desktop displays. (Some models do exist, but are intended for the medical community and are pricey.)

A comparison of DPI for previous/current Apple computers and display products

Laptops:
13.3" (1280 x 800) = 113.49 DPI
15.4" (1440 x 900) = 110.27 DPI
17" (1920 x 1200) = 133.19 DPI

Cinema displays and old iMacs:
23" (1920 x 1200) = 98.44 DPI
24" (1920 x 1200) = 94.34 DPI
30" (2560 x 1600) = 100.63 DPI

New iMacs: (note that these are now 16x9, suitable for watching "widescreen" video without black bars instead of the 16x10, which is much more common for widescreen computer displays)

21.5" (1920 x 1080) = 102.46 DPI
27" (2560 x 1440) = 108.79 DPI

And while Apple has touted a push for resolution independence (along with 64-bit) for a while now, some things still appear to be broken (at least in the first Snow Leopard release. I haven't installed Snow Leopard yet, so I can't say if it's been fixed since then.):

http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2009/08/mac-os-x-10-6.ars/21
(scroll down to the Resolution Independence section)

On a further note, I do have minor gripes about the 16x10 computer displays, since my current HP display scales up widescreen input (via component) to the full size, so video games are stretched vertically ever so much (+11.1%). I believe this is simply because component is analog, and is being decoded by an onboard chip that then gets sent into the analog to digital converter (probably the same one that would decode a VGA signal). Not sure if this is still an issue on the newer LCD displays from HP and Dell that take consumer digital inputs like HDMI. (not that I have a PS3 or 360 to test anyway) I imagine it's still an issue with component video in. On the other hand having 16x10 IS useful for watching 16x9 video, because the black bars allow for UI popup that does not obscure the video at all.

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