Apple reportedly wants the next iPad to have a Retina-like high-density display. However, LCD panel manufacturers aren't sure they can churn out high-density panels in large enough quantities, according to knowledgeable sources quoted by CNet News.
Right now, the rumored plan is for the iPad 3 to launch "as early as the first quarter of next year" with a 2048x1536 display—that's twice the pixel density of the iPad 2's 1024x768 panel. Apple might be putting the cart before the horse, though:
But whether manufacturers can make them in volumes that Apple demands is the question. "They have production plans for 2,048x1,536 displays. Starting in November. But those are only plans at this point," said the source, referring to LG and Samsung.
"It's not a question of making just one. That, of course, can be done. The challenge is making lots of them," the source said. "This is a quantum leap in pixel density. This hasn't been done before."
CNet News adds that "there is an interim option of 1,600x1,200" if volume production of 2048x1536 panels falls through.
I question whether Apple will take that route, though. When Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with its much-touted Retina display, it similarly doubled pixel density from 480x320 to 960x640. That kind of jump makes the scaling of unoptimized content (especially on the web) fairly straightforward, since you can just say each regular pixel equals four Retina pixels. Scaling from 1024x768 to 2048x1536 would be similar, but a jump to 1600x1200 would make content scaling more awkward. Last I checked, Apple doesn't like that sort of awkwardness.
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