Rumor mill hints at MacBook Pro with high-DPI panel

We’ve already heard reports that both Apple and Samsung will unleash tablets with high-DPI displays next year. According to a story posted by DigiTimes this morning, the high-DPI fever will affect Apple’s MacBook Pro notebooks, as well.

The site foretells a "new MacBook Pro lineup" with 2880×1800 displays, which "sources in the upstream supply chain" expect to see in the second quarter of next year. That resolution, of course, would offer exactly four times as many pixels as 1440×900, the display resolution of Apple’s current 13" MacBook Air. (The 13" MacBook Pro is still stuck with a 1280×800 display.) Quadrupling the number of pixels is exactly what Apple did with the iPhone 4’s "Retina" display; it allowed non-high-DPI images and websites to be resized cleanly, improving compatibility with legacy content.

DigiTimes goes on to note that Acer and Asus are cooking up ultrabooks with 1080p panels, but I’m not sure that’s quite in the same league. Sure, an 11.6" laptop with a 1080p display would be nice, but keeping user-interface widgets the same size as with a 1366×768 could involve some messy resizing and interpolation. (1920×1080 divided by 1/4 works out to 960×540, which doesn’t correspond to a common PC laptop resolution today.) Of course, there’s a chance the 1080p panels will only show up on 14" and 15" ultrabooks, in which case there would be nothing all that groundbreaking about them.

Comments closed
    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    FINALLY!!! I’ve been wanting a move foward is res for sometime. 1080p isn’t all its cracked up to be.

    • porov
    • 8 years ago

    bye bye anti-aliasing

      • Wirko
      • 8 years ago

      Anti-aliasing still makes sense at 300 dpi. At least on a phone. I’m sure you would notice its effect on a ~200 dpi notebook screen, too.

    • jstern
    • 8 years ago

    The good thing about this is that Apple doesn’t make and develop screen, other companies do, so that means there will be higher definition display for future laptops.

    Usually when the industry is moving one way, it first gets reported as an Apple exclusive because of all the Apple specific sites out there, and then it gets picked up by the non mac sites as if it’s an exclusive. Hard to explain, but if whenever Intel comes out with a new CPU, it gets reported on a Mac site as if they were specifically made for Mac, in a sense as if Intel revolves around Apple. Now a new CPU is something that’s going to get a lot of attention in the PC world, but imagine other components that don’t get as much attention. The point is basically that such high resolution screen are coming to laptop, because that seems to be where the industry is going, with Samsung producing higher resolution displays for their tabs, etc, but that it somehow creates free publicity for Apple.

      • cynan
      • 8 years ago

      Well that certainly seems to be the case with Tunderbolt (Light Peak).

      Intel developed, but I can’t think of a single implementation in the PC market, with the possible exception of the proprietary connection the new Sony Vaio Z uses to connect to its docking station (it has a built in external GPU, hence the need for greater throughput).

      What I don’t get is why we are having high PPI screens on mobile devices (smartphones) before notebooks, when it seems like most people would appreciate the higher acuity on a screen that they actually stare at for more than a few minutes at a time (in most cases).

      It seems this is the case just because Apple started the trend with the retina display in the Iphone 4. Now similar imitation of implementations of high PPI screens with Apple’s tablets and Android tablets. And now it appears the same might be true for notebooks. When companies like Dell included higher resolution options for their 15″ laptops (1900×1080) practically no one cared. When Apple announces they are upping the resolution ante, they immediately get fawned all over for being revolutionary – though I do concede that 2880×1880 is a larger step up than 1080p was for a 15.6″ screen.

      Apple is a great innovator in the tech sector, but this is due to their marketing clout more than anything else. I am getting a little weary of Apple getting all sorts of credit for technological advancements that they are only moderately responsible for, very little to none of which is any actual R&D (software not withstanding).

      But hey, at least Apple is driving innovation in some real way, which is better than what can be said for most PC or Android device manufacturers who are largely just clamoring to copy Apple’s secret formula.

    • sschaem
    • 8 years ago

    Apple leading the way… again…

    The Windows PC industry sicken me sometime. They have so much power, yet under delivers.
    Who released the first 30″ 2560×1200 ? Apple in 2004, 2 year ahead of Dell.

    Everything advance, but 24″ and 30″ monitor are stuck in the past… even going backward with that 1080 nonsense.
    Who really only use their computer to watch 16:9 videos? freaking silly.

    I would expect that in 10 years we would have went from 24″ at 1920×1200 to, 27″ at 2880×800.. 10 freaking years and nothing!

    Yea, I’m pissed off 🙂

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]10 freaking years and nothing![/quote<] Uh, well, those 24" monitors have gone from over $2,000 to as little as $200 - that's not bad. And I'm damned if I can figure why you'd want a 27" display with a resolution of 2880 horizontal but only 800 vertical - wierd...

        • sschaem
        • 8 years ago

        Are you comparing a 24″ 1900×1200 high Pro monitor on the day of its release to a POS 1080 monitor on sale today?

        Dell still sell their 24″1920×1200 at ~$500.. they use to be ~$750 way, way back then.

        Its been so long, but I beleive I paid $650 for my 24″ dell monitor 8 years ago. I wanted a second one with the same quality, $550.

        So the priced dropped by $100 in 8 years…. and no improvement in resolution in 10 years.

        Yea, thats progress.

        and about that 800 comment…. Man you are dense.

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<]Are you comparing a 24" 1900x1200 high Pro monitor on the day of its release to a POS 1080 monitor on sale today?[/quote<] Yes, but only because the first 24" displays available were the high-end models that had enough profit margin to justify the start-up manufacturing costs. If you just [i<]had[/i<] to have a 24" 1920x1200 display in the early days of them, you ponied up for a Pro model, even if all you were doing was surfing the web (or playing WoW). 'Tis always the way with any technology that ultimately becomes mainstream, but that doesn't negate the impressive gains made in affordability. [quote<]and about that 800 comment.... Man you are dense[/quote<] Why so serious?

          • TechHead
          • 8 years ago

          Uh, no.. the U2412 is a 24″ IPS 1920*1200 monitor, and regularly sells for ~370$.

            • cynan
            • 8 years ago

            Even $370 is overpaying for the U2412m these days. Dell.ca had the U2412m on for $279 today for its current “Daily Deals”.

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t remember Apple being the first at 2560×1600.

      I am, however, pretty pissed off myself…

      It’s almost 2012; where are all the flying cars?

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]It's almost 2012; where are all the flying cars?[/quote<] You really want to see the mayhem people cause driving in 2 dimensions translated to 3 dimensions??

      • Hattig
      • 8 years ago

      10 years ago you were happy if you had a 19″ CRT that did 1600×1200, and most people had 17″ CRTs doing 1280×1024. What sucks is that in those ten years the vertical resolution hasn’t improved, but at least the screen size and horizontal resolution has. As for laptops, 1024×768 was most common, but there were some 1280×1024 displays . 14″ was common back then, so most laptops haven’t advanced at all. Personally I think we should have been at 24″ 2560×1536 for a few years already, but Windows’ poor UI scaling and lack of consumer education has held the market back.

      But these ultra-high resolutions are merely for improving clarity – the interface and text should remain the same physical size. However the extra clarity will mean that smaller text is more legible.

    • maxxcool
    • 8 years ago

    umm so much for gaming on it… you’d need a 580/6970 to push that rez native with decent settings….

      • drfish
      • 8 years ago

      Native res gaming would be *sweet* but when four of those pixels are the size of one of the current ones I’m not going to sweat a non-native res nearly as much as I would now.

        • internetsandman
        • 8 years ago

        Agreed. On some games, such as Starcraft 2, gaming at that high a DPI would be impractical anyway, because it would be so hard to notice details on your minimap or apply precise mouse movements when your targets would be so small. The extra clarity and detail on textures and stuff would be nice, but not at te expense of playability

        The one thing I’m hoping to come from this is cheaper displays that hold more than 1920×1200. I’m currently at 1680×1050, and I don’t feel the jump up to 1920×1200 is worth it in terms of vertical screen space, but to go any higher is just so expensive as to be cost prohibiting at this moment in time

    • JohnC
    • 8 years ago

    Well, I guess it’s a good thing since so many people seem to want that. Personally I never felt that the display on my 13″ MBP was “deficient” in terms of DPI. Maybe I don’t put it close enough to my face or something… I do, however, notice the low DPI on iPad 2’s display each time I use it and would really prefer the next iPad to have a significantly higher DPI.

      • demani
      • 8 years ago

      But remember, most people didn’t feel the 3Gs was deficient in DPI until the iPhone 4 showed up (only mentioned as the obvious shift). The thing is, Apple can do this because they can make sure that every machine ships with a revised build that will directly support it, or otherwise ensure that it works because they have such control. And yes, this will be good for anyone (I’d love 2x the dpi on any any monitor I use IF the scaling was properly done). And hopefully Windows 8 will have proper and complete support (and that may be one of the things that the Metro UI will enforce, making it easier for forward looking/newly developed/newly updated applications to work properly).

      How hard would it be to get Linux up to speed on this scaling stuff (honest question)? Seems like that might be where it would be most easily done actually.

    • JdL
    • 8 years ago

    2880 x 1800 on 11″ is “retina” only on 11 inch display, which works out to be 309 dpi. On 13 inches it’s 261 dpi and on 15 inches it’s 226.

    That resolution is a little weird. What’s more, most display drivers might feel it’s a bit freaky too…

      • djgandy
      • 8 years ago

      Retina is not a fixed dpi. It’s based on viewing distance thus required DPI changes with device.

        • demani
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah- the viewing distance is part of the issue. And this is all really a repeat of the printer resolution discussion from years back (why did we need 600 dpi, or 1200 or 1600?). Everyone notices it when its in place, but we are all so used to 70-100 dpi that we are able to account for it pretty well. But when you see everything tight, without the antialiasing that drives some people batty (I prefer it to not having it, but I know it is a workaround in lieu of the real thing) most people generally say “Ahhh…so much better!”. Like with HDTV.

        • JdL
        • 8 years ago

        Good point. You will note I did put “retina” in quotes 🙂

      • Hattig
      • 8 years ago

      I sit two foot away from my monitor, maybe a little more.

      Viewing distance is a key factor in determining whether the retina can discern individual pixel steppings or if it appears smooth.

      I can’t be bothered to do the maths but I’m sure that 261dpi at 24″ distance is ‘retina’ and possibly 226dpi.

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    Yes, phones, tablets and small laptops are exactly the first thing that needs super high resolution! Large desktop monitors? Be happy with your 1080p displays and 72 DPI!

      • Kollaps
      • 8 years ago

      Could it be that it’s less costly to bring these higher resolutions to smaller panels? Nah, no way.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      As backwards as it may seem, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt. Assume the entire LCD panel manufacturing industry isn’t [i<]completely[/i<] insane, and that they're doing this because of viewing distance and manufacturing volume. With "nicer," but not super high end, desktop monitor panels pretty much being dictated by TVs, to step up, you're going to have to bend over for the price tag on a low volume, niche monitor, that's generally targeted at a specific professional application. Smartphones and tablets are also a large market, like TVs, but the panels aren't the same, so you're SOL until more laptops start to come with touchscreens.

        • cynan
        • 8 years ago

        There is little doubt that the reason why 1080p panels are so popular in notebooks or desktops is due to the HDTV format. However, I would assume that this has more to do with marketing than manufacturing as most HDTVs sold (and hence HDTV panels) are larger than 24 or even 27 inches (arguably the largest popular 1080p size marketed for desktop use) and therefore would not share manufacturing resources with TV panels.

        Of course you are correct that higher PPI panels cost more. But the niche market premium is always something that must be paid by the “pioneer” (or in Apple’s case, “visionary”). After enough demand for these panels exists, it is no longer a niche market and manufacturing costs obviously decline.

        The issue is that no one except Apple is willing to take the risk and be the first to demand these higher PPI panels. Even if companies like Acer or Asus are interested, they will be told that they can have multiple 1080p panels of a given size for the same price as a single 2560×1440 (or whatever), or worse, that they will need to invest some start-up capital to help expand current 2560×1440 production capacity. At which point, due to the lack of market confidence with their own products, they promptly cease and desist on the whole high PPI notion. On the other hand, Apple has so much clout that they can probably just demand these panels, and probably at a more competitive price – and if it does cost them a start-up investment, they likely don’t bat an eye due to their current wealth and the fact that they have much more confidence in themselves as an innovator (with good reason).

        What I don’t get is why companies like Samsung or LG, who actually make high end panels, don’t try and spearhead some of this higher quality panel innovation for PCs. I guess they figure they’ll make more $$ selling their premium stuff to OEMs (seems to be the case with LG, anyway). I had to laugh when LG’s recent ultrabook announcement indicated a 1366×768 display. This from the company that provided the panel for the Apple 30″ Cinema display, and those for current high end Apple and Dell monitors. Again, the only answer is that PC makers truly don’t believe that PCs can be premium computers. Instead they seem largely interested in trying to fool people into thinking they are buying something of similar quality/appeal to a Mac already on the market.

        Until there is more solidarity between companies like Microsoft and PC makers regarding a commitment to premium PCs, Apple will continue to be the leading innovating force in this industry. I’m not sure why more companies don’t have flagship products similar to the Sony Vaio Z. Even if they are initially overpriced and don’t sell well, would this not help instill mass confidence in these companies as manufacturers of premium products? Sure, if Asus dropped everything else and only produced $1500 and up laptops, this would be suicide, but all they need is a single proof of concept flagship initially…

        Intel is trying somewhat with the ultrabooks, though it is obvious that more attention needs to be paid to the entire package (ie, the ultrabooks with the 1366×768 displays, etc). As it stands, there is no end in sight to the chicken-egg problem that plagues PCs (convincing the public that PCs can be premium in their own right prior to actually trying to market a premium PC) and as long as this is the case Apple reigns as supreme innovator in this sector.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 8 years ago

    It’s over $9,000!

    • brucethemoose
    • 8 years ago

    Now this is the Apple I like, not the Apple that trolls every other technology company that puts up some competition. Not the Apple that rips off and brainwashes thousands, bringing them into their walled garden. No, this is the Apple that sets industry standards, raising the bar for everyone.

    I can’t wait to see high res displays everywhere else, this 1360×768 obsession isn’t good.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      It takes a expert brainwasher to make a change like this one.

      LCDs are commodities. OEMs get the cheapest parts they can get. If one of the big OEMs knew how to market high end panels, I’m sure they would do it.

      What I’m trying to say is that the same qualities that make Apple so hated also make them an innovator. Innovation isn’t just making a compelling product, it’s putting that product in the hands of customers.

      Death to 1366×768!

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        Since Apple controls the entire ecosystem, it’s easier for them to market very-high DPI displays because they can make the software that supports them. Dell, hp, ASUS, etc. don’t write Windows.

        • brucethemoose
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t care how it’s done, I just want high-res displays. If Apple is the only one that can pull it off and make the average consumer want a high-res LCD, so be it. But I completely agree: people wouldn’t suddenly start buying Samsung notebooks over Apple ones if Samsung offered a better display… actually, Samsung already does. And it didn’t work.

        • bhtooefr
        • 8 years ago

        Most OEMs take what the LCD manufacturers make.

        Apple has enough force on the market to tell the LCD manufacturers what to make – you’ll note that the two computer manufacturers, nowadays, that can usually dictate a new LCD form factor nowadays are Apple and Sony.

        (Sony is able to do it because they own LCD production capacity. IBM used to the same way (but never really took advantage of it on laptops – they did make the 22.2″ 3840×2400 standard for desktops, though), before they sold the Personal Systems Division to Lenovo, and shut their IDTech LCD manufacturing joint venture down.)

    • Kollaps
    • 8 years ago

    I wonder if this will motivate other companies to provide such and more importantly for Microsoft to finally add proper scaling in Windows. In the current state such a high resolution with a 13″ screen would be unusable on Windows.

      • cmircea
      • 8 years ago

      Windows properly supports multiple DPI settings and has for MANY MANY years. Whether the developers of applications care is another story, as most don’t.

        • Kollaps
        • 8 years ago

        Not in my experience. On my own laptop’s 1600×900 resolution when I went to try out making objects larger it ruined the proportions of numerous interface elements. Changing it back to the original didn’t even restore the defaults fully.

        In fact, I would personally choose a 1366×768 resolution 13″ screen over one at 1920×1080. Viewing on the 1080p screen would be a massive pain and I’m not at all confident DPI scaling would work.

        Screen quality has been a far bigger issue than lack of resolution for me. It blows my mind to constantly see “that resolution sucks” and yet no mention of these laptops having visible color banding even from straight on.

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          We’ve been using 120(or higher, but rarely) DPI at our work for over a decade now, basically ever since the introduction of 17″ (1280×1024) or higher LCDs. Note: Our average employee is over the age of 40, but even thee younger employees keep it @ default under W7. No issues to report. Users complained mercilessly using lower/default DPIs.

          We have had one program that needed adjustment, we told the vendor and they patched it for us.

            • Kollaps
            • 8 years ago

            Err. A 17″ at 1280×1024 is nowhere close to 120 DPI, it’s around 96 DPI. I’m also not sure what desktop monitors you could be using. The only greater than 120 DPI screens I’ve seen are for professional uses or on laptops. Being on laptops is part of the problem. 1920×1080 in Windows 7 on a 13″ screen is not something I’d subject myself to daily, it’s just uncomfortable to read.

            • jstern
            • 8 years ago

            You’re getting thumbs up, but I don’t think you quite know what he was talking about. If you’re using Windows 7 just press Start and type in “dpi” and press Enter, and then mess around with different DPI settings. It doesn’t have anything to do with a monitor having 96 dpi, 120 dpi, etc. Ignore the term DPI. Look at it more like, if an object is exactly 96 dpi under one setting, then it’s going to be exactly 120 dpi under 120, and so on depending on the size of different objects.

            If you have a 1080p laptop in Windows 7, then things will look too tiny, that’s where raising the DPI of the objects (not the screen) will come in handy. You can make it look like you’re laptop did under a lower res screen, similar proportions, but with a much, much sharper looking Windows.

            • Kollaps
            • 8 years ago

            Those are the settings I mentioned when I said the adjustments don’t work well.

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            Can you show us an example?

            • jstern
            • 8 years ago

            Perhaps I’m confused, but you’re mentioning monitors resolutions, and screen size, and talking about how current monitors are no where close to let say 120 DPI, and I’m telling you that the DPI setting in Windows have nothing to do with the monitor and whatever resolution they support or their DPI rating.

            • Wirko
            • 8 years ago

            Exactly the same observation here. I even used the 120 dpi setting on my 17″ 1024×768 CRT.
            However, a properly designed OS would have to have two independent settings: the exact dpi density of the display and the of magnification of UI elements in %. Without the exact dpi, the graphics apps still need to “calibrate the ruler” in order to show documents at 1:1 magnification.

            • Hattig
            • 8 years ago

            What’s annoying is that Apple were 90% of the way to having that in Mac OS X Tiger, but they obviously decided to never enable it (you could with a simple tweak) and go with the pixel-doubling scheme in the long run. I think that arbitrary scaling wasn’t as simple as it sounds, when aligning different UI elements to line up crisply without obvious joins, etc, so they gave up on it.

            • Wirko
            • 8 years ago

            Nice looking scaling is not a simple task, that’s for sure. However, even XP manages to do that with just minor glitches (icons in the taskbar not aligned exactly the way I would like them to be, etc.)

          • jstern
          • 8 years ago

          Were you using XP? Because I do remember it sometimes messing up the fonts on some programs, but under Windows 7 it’s like perfect. Except for this utility that I downloaded called CpuID Hardware Monitor.

            • bhtooefr
            • 8 years ago

            On 7, with Aero enabled (this is the critical part – without Aero, you get XP’s scaling engine), there are two things that happen.

            Windows Presentation Framework apps scale. Usually this happens properly, but sometimes not – sometimes fonts just stay small.

            GDI apps get raster scaled – so, if I set my 2048×1536 display to 150%, GDI apps look like I’ve set it for 1536×1024, and it’s fuzzy.

        • ew
        • 8 years ago

        “properly” I don’t think you know what this word means.

        • Kollaps
        • 8 years ago

        I wanted to point out what I mean by “proper” scaling.

        Compare an iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4. The icons, fonts, and all the other interface elements remain the same physical size. Now, go grab two laptops with identical 16:9 13″ diagonal screens, but one with a resolution of 1366×768 and the other with 1920×1080. Notice something? Every interface element on the 1920×1080 screen is smaller. It’s not just way sharper as with the iPhone example, instead it’s sharper but also way smaller.

        The iPhone example is one of “proper” scaling.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]a "new MacBook Pro lineup" with 2880x1800 displays[/quote<] Finally, something actually worth the moniker "UltraBook_TM" - assuming it also comes with a decent CPU and graphics capability. [quote<]Acer and Asus are cooking up ultrabooks with 1080p panels[/quote<] Again, if the rest of the product offering is similarly premium, I can see this working, but.... [quote<]on 14" and 15" ultrabooks[/quote<] ?? I thought the maximum size of an "UltraBook_TM" was 13.3 inches?

      • d0g_p00p
      • 8 years ago

      A MacBook Pro is not a UltraBook

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        [s<]Yes, it is an 'ultrabook', no it is not an "UltraBook_TM"[/s<] EDIT: brain-fart; MacBook [i<]Pro[/i<], not MacBook [i<]Air[/i<] - duhhh... That's what happens when you jump back and forth too quickly between this and the item about the Toshiba ultraportable.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    hooray! than i need the ULTRA mobile GPU to drive that many pixels!

      • odizzido
      • 8 years ago

      well, if you run your game at 1/4th the res then it will work perfectly. I think this is really good.

    • PeregrineFalcon
    • 8 years ago

    Can I just say

    [b<]ABOUT EFFING TIME[/b<] ahem. The 1280x800 res in the 13" MBP is downright pathetic. While it's a great screen, it's just a horribly small amount of real estate.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      In typical Apple fashion, the company is waiting in order to maximize the upgrade differential.

      If they had bumped the 13″ 1280×800 panel to 1440×900, then it wouldn’t seem like a huge leap when the new model got a 1920×1200 (or whatever) IPS screen.

      Instead, they hold the line and provide an enormous upgrade to maximize the Reality Distortion Field.

      It might sound stupid, but it works every time.

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah that makes total sense because Apple doesn’t offer higher resolution screens anywhere else in their laptop line. Certainly nothing like 1920×1200.

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]If they had bumped the 13" 1280x800 panel to 1440x900[/quote<] Have you ever seen a 13" 1440x900 IPS panel? I don't think they exist, every display at that I have seen resolution is a tn panel.

          • Laykun
          • 8 years ago

          Every panel in the currently Macbook Pro line up is a TN panel isn’t it?

          My Dell XPS has a 1080p 15.6″ panel and it’s beautiful, even if it is a TN panel (WLED version).

          • ImSpartacus
          • 8 years ago

          All Macbooks use TN panels, so there’s no issue.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if future Macbooks used IPS panels, but today’s Macbooks use TN panels.

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