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Where Are The High Resolution Displays?


The new Sony Vaio P UMPC has a density of 222 dpi. 1600x768 @ 8. Naturally, its getting the standard mix of thrashing by people who consider it unusably small without ever having used it, and those who are excited about it. It does seem that there is a more reasonable balance now than previously, although threads about putting a WUXGA panel into a previous generation 15.4 MBPRO (sadly, no longer possible, as the new panel is manufactured into the lid in a way that it cannot be replaced without breaking both) tend to be overrun by people claiming its just a bad idea, who must have nothing better to do.

I swapped out the display panel in my 15.4 mbpro to WUXGA, and still found it insufficient (for coding and document editing, primarily), but better than any option apple offers. And at home, I have a 30 dell panel which frustrates me every time I think about it. I can comfortably VNC from my 15 laptop to my home display with only slight downscaling, see the entire thing on my laptop, and work comfortably on it, even with the minimum terminal font sizes reasonably usable on the dell.

I keep hoping for a reasonable pixel density even on any 19 display, so I can replace this low density 30 monster with several of them. That they density is increasing on portables, albeit very slowly, gives me reason to hope.


I just searched through Dell and NewEgg and here’s an blob of info for anyone interested in high DPI LCD monitors:

Winner: 10", 1024x768 with 123 DPI
2nd Place: 21", 1920x1200 with 105 DPI
3rd Place: 23", 2048x1152 with 103 DPI

Note that there are often multiple screens with such configurations. However, please take a look at the date; today is July 12, 2009. In 2007, we more or less had 100 DPI screens. In 1994, we had 80 DPI screens.

If I were truly desperate to cobble together a high resolution setup without begging at LG’s/Samsung’s feet, I would do better ripping apart old ThinkPads for their LCD panels than shopping at Dell. My T400’s 14" screen is 129 DPI. At this moment, it would cost $779*4=$3,116 to build a 28" screen with 129 DPI, or, if you want to get an idea of how it’ll slow down your FPS-hungry games…a screen resolution of 2880 x 1800.

A dual monitor setup would cost approximately $6K, with a combined resolution of 5760 x 3600. Now that has got to make a graphics card or two keel over. It would take 2 ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards (or, in monetary terms…$732.26 from NewEgg…and you’d have to have a :smiley:

Now, let’s try moving beyond bog-standard T-series…the W500 line has a 15", 1920x1200, 150.94 DPI, almost exactly half of print quality, though human vision follows a parabola shape directly proportional to one’s distance from the screen. A W500 with that screen costs $1,329. A 30" LCD monitor built out of W500s would cost $1329*4=$5316 and give us a screen with a resolution of 3840x2400. Double that and you get 2 30" screens, at half print quality. The combined screen resolution would be 7680x4800.

Anyway…the point is…
Even with hackery and the continuing price drops in LCD panels (+ high DPI necessitated by the form factor limitations for laptops), it still costs over $1000 to get a screen that’s half as easy to read as a book (actually, less than half but I don’t want to calculate just how bad it is). This is actually rather disappointing because everything else in computers is progressively cheaper. Consider the parts required to build a system with 2 28" 129 DPI screens:
8 ThinkPad T400’s (OK, so this is a bit of a stretch…one could probably arrange a deal to get the screens from dead T400’s)
2 Sapphire 100251SR Radeon HD 4870 X2 2 GB video cards
1 Intel BOXDP45SG LGA 775 Intel Motherboard ($114.99)
1 Antec TPQ-1000 Power Supply ($181.49)
1 Antec Twelve Hundred case ($172.99)
1 Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 ($184.99)
3 GB RAM from Crucial ($40.99)
4 Western Digital VelociRaptors (150 GB each, $179.99 each) in a RAID 10 configuration, yielding 300 GB of working space with a speed that hopefully won’t be too much of a bottleneck.

And, to round things out:
1 Microsoft Natural Keyboard
1 Microsoft Mouse
= ~$35

Windows Vista Ultimate
Microsoft Office 2007

And of course, a game to use the screen with. :slight_smile:
openBVE: Free :stuck_out_tongue:

Total cost:
$2,782.67 excluding the cost of the display
$9,014.67 including 8 brand new T400’s

Let’s say that each screen actually costs only half of the price of a T400. Then each display’s cost is about $1,558 instead of $3,116. Even so, it’s clear that is very expensive. We have a long way to go before our eyeballs stop hurting on the computer. :frowning:


According to http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/eye-resolution.html the optimal would be more in the range of 600dpi


DPI isn’t the HALF of the problem there is a whole litany of things wrong with high resolution displays

30"+ displays require dual DVI. this eliminates most currently deployed PC hardware.

scaling. scaling. scaling. I have one of those 30" Dell LCD on my desk. most icons shrink out of existance at that resolution. yes I can make the icons bigger, but what good is stretching that 32x32 or 64x64 icon to create blocky icon on that high resolution. display. The tool bar in office is good awfully tiny that I cant see what I am clicking.

for fun, change to large fonts in windowsand see all the software that doesnt adjust correctly. Data entry forms are hilarioius. usually the label is clipped or they overlap with the text above. VS 2005 is just abysmal when you work in this mode.

The web is even worse. look at this site in high res and maximize your browser to full screen. whats with all the white space on either side??? www.news.com and sites using that design layout are just awful.


One other rant. 16:9 is totally setting back progress in high res displays. 1920x1200 doesnt really help me see more code - really not any better thant the 1600x1200 of most 4:3 19 or 20" displays. developers need more vertical for editing code. even those outside the industry, watching 16:9 content is only a small portion of the tasks people do with their pc’s.

I am sure this is to keep things in sync with HD displays. There is probably some economy of scale in using chips to drive 16:9 displays where when you make a lot of these things having a common set of chips drive the LCD means the difference between profit and loss.


"One other rant. 16:9 is totally setting back progress in high res displays"
Actually, I have to disagree here (and agree with R). I just moved from 1600x1200 to 1920x1200, while arguably I’ve gained nothing in height I have gained one important aspect - my lines of code are MUCH easier to read now. Now, instead of cramping my text into a small window between the sidebars (or hiding them and being frustrated when needing them); I get to see code a lot clearer without compromising on tools.

That to me is not setting the progress bar backwards at all.


The Nokia N800’s display is about 227 pixels per inch, and it is gorgeous. Pity there’s only 4.1" of it…


This is being driven by a “bigger is better” mindset only in the sense that given the same number of pixels, people would rather have a larger display.

I suspect that LCD cost is driven more by pixel count than by either pixel density on one end or display size on the other. So, given that a 1920x1200 display will cost them same whether it is 12" or 24", which would you choose?



It’s become ASSUMED that screens should be wider than they are tall (long), yet a LOT of the applications that we use display the information in a “tall” manner.

“Tall” applications:
Text Documents
PDF Documents (anything that is 8.5" x 11" or A4 standard)
probably most programming is longer than it is wide.

“Wide” applications:
(for MOST people, the leisure stuff)
Hi-Res Pictures (shot in landscape orientation)
Video Games

Therefore, a better desktop monitor would be 3x4 aspect ratio! Otherwise you are wrestling with scroll bars and zooming and you might not be able to see a full page on a screen. An ideal monitor would be one that can PIVOT between Portrait and landscape modes. (swivel means is side to side rotation).

While this does not improve image quality, it does improve the user experience (though it is not what we’re used to).

GET OUT OF YOUR 4x3, 16x9, 16x10 BOXES, think about what you use your computer for most. If you use a ton of both modes, then get a monitor with PIVOT.

Viewsonic VP2030p is a 20", 1600x1200, that pivots. You don’t need bigger widescreen monitors for web browsing or work, you need a monitor that can pivot to portrait mode. (I’m not associated with Viewsonic, just done a bunch of reading and fired up, and had good experience with Viewsonic in the past).


HD DVD? You mean … Blue Ray son!


iPhone 4 has 326 pixels per inch.
That would make a nice 28-inch Ultra HDTV screen!


There are numerous reasons for the lack of ultra high resolution-full size computer displays. One, the electronic characteristics of updating such a large matrix of pixels. Flicker and refresh rates push the driving circuitry to heat up. Another problem is the high cost of research and development; the lack of investor companies since the finacial melt down have scuttled many budding technologies. Companies that are not willing to take any risk no matter what the reward. Then there are production issues, rare earth metal commodity prices.
Somebody mentioned the Concorde above, it had many cost overruns during development. But eventually became a symbol of modern society. The social concept of low-hanging fruit and easy money, must be overcome for any technical progress to be made in the future. As for ultra super XGA monitors it seems to be another sad case of technology lost…


I went down a rabbit hole of CH posts today and wound up here. I think it is worth noting that it has been almost 8 years since this post was made and we still do not have 200 dpi PC monitors readily available in the consumer market. We are very close though. There are a few “4K” displays offered currently at 23.8" putting them at ~185 DPI. It looks like they are going for around $450 right now (example: Dell P2415Q.) Apple’s “5K” iMac is ~218 DPI, but it starts at $2,499 and I don’t see an option for just the display itself. At this point, it looks like @codinghorror’s 2007 prediction was quite accurate. We might hit 200 DPI in common displays in 2017, but it seems it is more likely that we won’t. We’ll probably have “4K” displays in the 22" range by then (i.e. 200 DPI), but they’ll be too expensive to be commonplace.


And now here we are in 2018, and it’s interesting to note that — in a sense — “everyone was right”.

I find it entertaining that Joel’s “crazy-talk” characterization of the impossible future was,

(In all bold type!) And yet, here I sit with my Samsung Galaxy S6, an already-outdated smartphone which packs 1440×2560 pixels into barely five inches diagonal, for an incredible 576dpi.

@Jon_Hoffman1 was probably the farthest off, of all the correct people, by predicting that 4K displays in desktop sizes would be $2000 now. Amazon lists 4K monitors from Dell, LG, Samsung, and friends, in the 24" - 28" range, for under $400!

But Jon was still right, in predicting those things as “coming”. 4K is just finally becoming accessible in price, something that feels like it happened only last week, but those screens are still far from common. I’m typing this on a desktop connected to a 24" full-HD monitor with a 16:10 aspect ratio, or 1920×1200 @ 24", giving it exactly the 96dpi that desktop displays have been tracking for decades. And I just bought that screen a month ago. Sure, it’s a bit bigger than my previous ones, and has a few more pixels, but those two parameters have mostly increased in tandem for me, as for most people. That’ll start to change now, it seems, but not instantly and not for everyone.

There are still brand new laptops sold, even from high-end manufacturers like Apple, with 1440×900 displays. On the MacBook Air’s 13.3" screen that’s 128dpi, again not much better than the 100dpi we’ve had forever. Higher-end MacBooks are anywhere from 2304×1440 @ 12" to 2880×1800 @ 15.4" (both ~226dpi). One iMac model has a full-HD display at 21.5" (102dpi), others use 4K or 5K displays at 21.5" or 27" (~220dpi).

It’s clear that smartphones changed everything when it comes to display resolution and pixel density, as they’re what finally smashed the 100dpi “barrier”. But in the wake of that revolution, what’s really increased are the range of possible screen sizes, pixel dimensions, and densities that developers have to contend with, which only makes all sorts of rendering decisions even more complicated.


Hey now, I didn’t predict $2,000! Here is what I said: “We might hit 200 DPI in common displays in 2017, but it seems it is more likely that we won’t. We’ll probably have “4K” displays in the 22” range by then (i.e. 200 DPI), but they’ll be too expensive to be commonplace."

Which was…a pretty accurate prediction I think!


You’re absolutely right, and I apparently cannot read. My apologies for the mischaracterization. Like I said, everybody was right! :100: