Say the resolution

According to reports from CES, there is finally some momentum behind increasing the pixel density of displays. Anandtech's coverage of the best of CES mentions two developments:

  • Tablets will have real screens soon. 1920x1200, 2048x1536, or possibly even 2560x1600 or higher. 2560x1600 is the resolution of my 30" monitors! To achieve that in 9 or 10 inches of screen will be awesome. This is great news and I'm happy to hear it. But voices of reason are still not being heard on the matter of screen surface. Why is everyone silent about this elephant in the room? Glossy screens are unmitigated suckage.
  • Television-sized screens will soon be available in a moderate resolution of 4096x2160. That's for a 42 or 46-inch screen, which presumably most people would use at more than an arm's length, where higher pixel density is less crucial. However, don't rule out the appeal of using a 46" high-density monitor for your desktop PC. In fact, the manufacturers should be championing that use-case because I see great appeal in it. Rather than using two 30" monitors side-by-side, I would prefer one high-density 46" monitor. 4096x2160 isn't shabby for a computer monitor. That's about 800,000 more pixels than I get with two 30" monitors. But to be absolutely clear on this, a ~42" display should be around 8192x4320. After all, a 30" monitor should be 4096x2160.

The industry wants to attach the monicker "4K" to the new television-sized screens. I suppose I am fine with that, but I do wonder why the industry and media work so hard to avoid stating the actual resolution of a display.

Why do we have asinine code names for resolutions: QXGA, QSXGA, QWXGA, WUXGA, etc. These names are the legacy of VGA (and its contemporaries from that era), which was an initialism for "Video Graphics Array," although sometimes people remember it as "Video Graphics Adapter."

So first of all, retaining the "GA" suffix for these code names is an anachronism. Second, and most importantly, the code names are plain ridiculous. I hate seeing product spec sheets that use one of these silly codes to describe the resolution.

Is QHWXSGA higher resolution than UWHQXGA? Just say the resolution! Manufacturers, please listen up. When I find out you've used some elaborate code name for the lousy resolution of 1366x768—a resolution so low that any device using it that's larger than a phone should be incinerated—I am turned off to the product. Not only because the resolution sucks but because you tried to hide it by using a code name.

And don't even get me started on the phoniness of calling anything with 1080 or more vertical pixels "high definition."

As for tablets, I've already said that despite my years-long-past desire for portable computing, my hang-ups with the modern execution of tablet computing end up being a little deeper than just the screen resolution. I'm optimistic that we'll eventually reach the near-utopia I seek, and increasing the pixel density is a stepping stone along that path.

That Lenovo Windows 8 tablet transformer that I linked above, with the disappointing glossy screen? In many ways, that is the proper evolution of the original tablet PCs from the early 2000s. And it's looking like a great step forward: a thin, high-performance, transforming tablet/laptop computer. Toss the gloss, crank the screen resolution, and get Windows 8 wrapped up and we could have something pretty choice to play with.
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