More testing is needed on more devices before we can reach a definite conclusion. What this little excursion has taught us, though, is that Windows 8's suitability for systems with high-PPI screens may have been exaggerated. Perhaps some obscure, undocumented option magically fixes all of the aforementioned problems, but if that's the case, it should be neither obscure nor undocumented—remember, we were running the RTM version of Windows 8 on a production notebook.
I'm left a little disappointed and disillusioned. Based on what little I've seen, the impending flotilla of Windows tablets and laptops with high-density screens—which already counts the Zenbook Prime among its vessels—may get second-class treatment in Windows 8. Metro may end up looking either too big or too small, scaled web browsing may be as ugly as ever, and in the end, the old-school desktop mode may offer the best experience.
It's like Microsoft has taken one step forward and two steps back. And it's a crying shame.
Our experience is doubly disappointing in light of what Apple has been doing lately. Both the new iPad and the Retina MacBook Pro scale legacy content—including the web—with very few to no artifacts, and they guarantee UI widgets are the right size for the screen. Both of those machines have exactly four times the resolution of their standard-PPI predecessors: 2880x1800 on the MacBook and 2048x1536 on the iPad, up from 1440x900 and 1024x768, respectively, on older offerings. That means legacy content can be resized so that one source pixel equals four pixels on the screen, which minimizes problems.
The Retina MacBook Pro also supports other, intermediate scaling modes, which still work quite well. One of those modes, for example, approximates the interface and font sizes one would see at 1680x1050. No matter the setting, both OS X and Retina-aware applications scale standard-PPI bitmaps while seamlessly displaying text, vector graphics, video, and other high-PPI-capable content at the full resolution.
Now, to be fair, Apple only sells one computer with a high-PPI screen right now, and it has complete control over the hardware and software. Microsoft must support a multitude of machines (and discrete monitors) with varying panel sizes, PPI levels, and intended viewing distances. That must complicate things greatly.
Nevertheless, it seems like the folks in Redmond really should have offered at least a handful of different scaling modes in Metro. An intermediate setting between the default and "make everything on your screen bigger" modes would have looked great on the Zenbook Prime, for instance—yet we could find no such option no matter how hard we looked. The user experience suffered as a result, and Metro lost much of its appeal.
69 comments — Last by bhtooefr at 4:34 PM on 09/30/12
|Gigabyte's Aero 15 gaming laptop reviewedPower and portability in one package||24|
|Aorus' X5 v7 gaming laptop reviewedG-Sync on the go||13|
|The Tech Report's summer 2017 mobile staff picksThe best gear for on-the-go computing||56|
|Next-gen Qualcomm Spectra ISPs bring more depth to mobile devicesLaying the foundation for more immersive mobile computing||10|
|Computex 2017: Gigabyte's latest and greatest gearMotherboards and eGPUs and laptops, oh my||19|
|Nvidia unveils its GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti for laptopsThe pint-size Pascal empowers portable players||16|
|Gigabyte's P57X v6 gaming notebook reviewed Full-fat Pascal comes to notebooks||20|
|The Tech Report's winter 2016 mobile staff picksThe best tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, and phones||42|
|Razer Kiyo and Seiren X set the stage for streaming excellence||18|
|MSI Cubi 3 Silent and Silent S can be seen but not heard||13|
|Massdrop's Vast 35" VA display lives up to its name||30|
|Spitballing the performance of Nvidia's purported GTX 1070 Ti||20|
|Friday deals: a huge monitor, racing gear, audio, and more||21|
|G.Skill 3800 MT/s SO-DIMMs put lightning in tiny bottles||9|
|Cooler Master bedazzles the MasterLiquid Lite ML120L and ML240L||4|
|Razer Electra V2 offers affordable immersion||8|
|Samsung 360 Round camera captures the world from all angles||11|