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This is somewhat an economics and manufacturing question, so apologies if it's a bit off-topic but I don't know where else to ask.


I have a 17" laptop with 1,920 by 1,080 resolution, which is nice. But some smartphones have the same resolution on a much smaller screen.

By my calculations, if my laptop had the same ppi as the phone, the resolution would be about 7,000 by 3,800.

So why isn't this a normal resolution? 8k resolutions for TV are just being considered -- why aren't we ahead of the curve?

A napkin cost per square inch calculation shows that such a screen would cost several hundred dollars. Pricey, but not unheard-of.

The total pixel count goes up by about 13 times, but the graphics card can shunt out framerates in the hundreds of hertz, so that shouldn't be a problem (for 2D at least).

It seems like this technology should have been on the market years ago. What's the bottleneck?

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It might be cost, the Chromebook pixel for example, 2560 x 1700 at 239 PPI, is ~$1500 –  Ray Britton Sep 20 '13 at 13:44
    
@spraff - Because a majority of laptops used the cheapest possible hardware as possible to keep the costs down. There is also the reason that until recently starting with Apple there wasn't a single device that does what you describe. Its starting to change high PPI wasn't a huge selling point 2 years ago. –  Ramhound Sep 20 '13 at 13:49

2 Answers 2

I don't have any real insight into this issue, but I think that your napkin cost might be off by a thousand dollars or so. The difference in price between a retina 13" macbook pro and a non-retina is almost all in the screen.

Also, if you go back through the trends in PPI, you'll see that higher density pixels always started in smaller screens and worked their way up to larger screens. Back in the day it meant the difference between a 14" laptop and a 17" laptop, but with the recent onslaught of significantly smaller screens, the problem is more exaggerated that in was in the past.

There are lots of rumors out there about why Apple doesn't release a 6" iPhone. One of the more plausible ones is simply that they cannot make a retina that size that is both power efficient and cost effective. So if they can't make a 6" screen with that pixel density, a 15" one, would theoretically, be a ways off yet.

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According to what I've researched about this topic, main target is to make our eyes see a 'clear picture' from a viewing distance. Let's take 200ppi, this may look sharp at a distance of 2ft, but it may not when we get closer enough to see the screen from 5in.

We all mostly use certain devices with certain viewing distance. TVs far, desktops near, laptops close, and cell phones closer. Higher ppi in cell phones is new, but valid upto about 330ppi for 8in distance. Making it higher is pointless unless it's a marketing factor (which it is now). And somehow processors are supporting these resolutions with smooth usage.

In cases of laptop screens etc, I too had wondered that. But imagine if a cell phone screen is costing them $200 for a small area, laptop and desktop screens will cost them more than $3000 (as screen will be atleast 20 times area-wise). Plus also imagine the overall resolution, which would now be more than 4k, and graphics card processing and rendering every pixel at 60hz, given the user may not even feel the difference.. So maybe that's why.

Though some of this is already happening now, but it's just my rough guess.

Regard, ANT

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