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Sharp has a display technology called Quattron, which utilizes a 4th, yellow subpixel. ClearType is an anti-aliasing strategy that utilizes these subpixels to make fonts look smoother. I know that ClearType needs to be cognizant of your subpixel arrangement in order for it to do its thing.

So what happens when you hook a computer up to a Quattron display while ClearType is enabled? I'm guessing it doesn't work, but I am not sure. Anyone have experience with this?

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It should work, but it might not look quite as expected.

The basic trick of ClearType is to take advantage of the fixed, predictable sub-pixel elements of an LCD screen. A Quattron screen will still have fixed, predictable sub-pixel elements, so we are good so far.

Now, if your screen were black-and-white, ClearType would be easy: just take advantage of the sub-pixel elements, you have a higher resolution display, done. But the sub-pixel elements have colors (red, green, and blue... and now yellow) and the ClearType algorithm tries to pay attention to what the colors are, and balance them so that you don't get visible color fringes on your characters. Until and unless ClearType gets a Quattron-specific upgrade, the ClearType algorithm will be trying to balance the colors assuming standard RGB, and the yellow sub-pixel elements might throw things off a little bit.

By the way, Linux and Mac have the same trick; they cannot call it ClearType because that is a Microsoft trademark, but they can do the same thing.

I imagine that a future update will add explicit support for Quattron displays. In the meantime, if you don't like how it looks, you can always disable ClearType. If you use "Standard" smoothing instead of ClearType, you still get pretty nice smoothed fonts; and if you have a very high-resolution monitor, you don't really need anything as tricky as ClearType. (ClearType was a bigger win back when people had laptops with only 800x600 displays.)

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I understand the principles. I am just wondering how it looks and whether anyone has tried it. –  Chris Jun 25 '10 at 1:05
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