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New display will vie with LG, Samsung, and others for dominance

While Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930currently dominates the thriving smartphone commodity display market, a number of Asian rivals are aiming to unseat the South Korean giant.  Among them is Japan's Sharp Corp. (TYO:6753).

Sharp announced this week that it would be mass-producing a monstrous 443 ppi (pixels-per-inch) 1920x1080 pixel smartphone screen.  The 5-inch screen could appear in devices as early as the holiday season, but will likely show up in greater quantities next year.  The new display features a brand new pixel technology dubbed CG-Silicon, which Sharp promises brings smartphone displays in line with their full-size counterparts.  Sharp's display likely makes use of the company's new "Igzo" power efficient thin-display tech, as well.

The release marks the latest round in a game of brinksmanship by Japan and South Korea's top display makers.  Early this year South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. (KSC:066570) announced production of a similar 5-inch 440 ppi unit, which will likely launch in a similar window.  LG calls its display technology "Retina" displays.

Sharp Aquos
Sharp is thinking small with its latest 5-inch 1080 display. [Image Source: IntoMobile]

Sharp is reportedly looking to displace LG in Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) coveted iPhone, using a slightly smaller display unit.  The company announced in August that it would be shipping displays for the iPhone 5 en masse.  LG announced similar shipments, indicating that Apple would split its demand between the two manufacturers.

A third player is Japan's Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502), which recently demoed a 498 ppi 6-inch display.  Toshiba's display could be the most impressive of the bunch -- unfortunately it's not yet quite ready for the market.  

Sources: Sharp, UnWired View

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RE: Pointless
By Motoman on 10/1/2012 12:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's also equally pointless to stuff 1TB drives, 2.8GHz quad core CPUs, or 4GB of RAM into a laptop. least, it depends on what you're doing with it. If you're using your laptop to do real work on the go when you're away from the office, it may pay dividends in productivity to have bigger specs. Or if you do gaming on your laptop. If you're just doing email and web surfing...then not so much. But if you're that kind of PC user, the same also applies to your desktop.

There is certainly a point of diminishing returns, and >400 DPI is probably it.

That point would vary based on screen size. On a phone, I think you're being too generous by a multiple of 2 at least.

If a user is turning down the resolution to make on screen text easier to read then the OS is doing it wrong and rendering the text too small.

Walk around any office building where people have high-pixel-density monitors. A keen eye will spot that *lots* of them are running at lower-than-optimal settings for that reason. It's not the OSs fault either...the OS is defaulting to making the most of the hardware...and the OS doesn't have any idea what font size you, personally, actually want to view things at - especially if you don't go and do any font size adjustments.

VAST numbers of people will even live with running their widescreen monitors at 4:3 resolutions just to get text to where they want to read it. Frequently, pointing out to them that they're running at the wrong aspect ratio, let alone resolution, will get you an "I don't care just don't f%ck with it."

RE: Pointless
By GTVic on 10/1/2012 2:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
The reason why high-dpi displays have the issue of either living with too small text or having to reduce the resolution is that high DPI in the PC world is not high enough.

PC high-dpi displays are at most 50% more pixels than a standard display. If you have a legacy application that doesn't scale well, you would see a huge improvement if the resolution was doubled, making everything half the normal size, and the OS could simply double the size of the window. Higher DPI displays would allow the OS to increase a Window by any arbitrary percentage and achieve a good result.

RE: Pointless
By Motoman on 10/1/2012 4:31:55 PM , Rating: 2
No, and no.

DPI is plenty high enough. And it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with "legacy" applications.

The first problem is that vast numbers of people, probably the vast majority, have no idea about going into their settings/preferences in Windows and changing the text size.

The second problem is that changing it there doesn't change all text that and the text on your icons on the desktop is big, but then if you go and launch your web browser the text is all still small. Sure, then you can go and fiddle with your scaling in your browser, but again, vast numbers of people don't know how to do that, and secondly it's a PITA. And people get scared when you tell them to go and change settings of any kind anyway.

It's infinitely easier for these people to just turn down their action that makes their text big everywhere, and then they just live with their displays being "out of focus" and/or displaying things at the wrong aspect ratio. It's easier for them than doing things the "right way."

If MS put a button on the desktop that scaled all fonts in every application, maybe we wouldn't have this problem. But they didn't, and we do.

RE: Pointless
By michael2k on 10/1/2012 3:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
You think > 200 dpi is the point of diminishing returns on a phone, why?

I hold my phone much closer to my face than my desktop LCD; The LCD is about 21" away while my phone is normally only 10" away. You have it reversed, I think; desktops probably don't see much better than 200 dpi while on a phone 400dpi is probably the best you can reasonably expect a ROI.

Most people aren't using a laptop to do real work on to go away from the office. Most people who own laptops are taking notes during meetings or running powerpoint presentations or entering data in the field (insurance agents, for example).

RE: Pointless
By Motoman on 10/1/2012 4:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
You think > 200 dpi is the point of diminishing returns on a phone, why?

Because I can see the (lack of) difference with my own eyes on a screen the size of a cell phone. Doesn't make any significant difference. Look at two phones side by side...the difference is negligible, if noticeable at all.

On my 24" monitor on my desk, if you cut it in half from 1920x1080 I'd throw it away. The larger the screen the higher pixel density needed.

Basic physics. And no, the difference in distance from your eyes isn't that significant in the range you're talking about. Screen size is vastly more important than those ~10" or so.

RE: Pointless
By michael2k on 10/1/2012 4:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, you're clearly confused. Human vision doesn't work the way you describe; screen size is irrelevant, it's distance from the eye that determines how small the pixel can be resolved.

1920x1080 at 24" is only 92dpi; at 92dpi you would need to be about 30" away for it to be "immaterial" the way you expect, and diagonal length is irrelevant. The closer the screen, the higher the pixel density needed.

That's why eye charts use smaller letters to simulate distance.

If you want to believe that 200dpi is the point of diminishing returns for phones, then 92dpi is the point of diminishing returns for desktop displays.

Me, I gladly welcome 3840x2160 24" displays. I can clearly and measurably resolve 200dpi on my desktop and can clearly resolve at least 300dpi on my phone.

You can keep your 92dpi LCD, I expect more.

RE: Pointless
By Motoman on 10/1/2012 5:19:42 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, you're clearly confused. Human vision doesn't work the way you describe; screen size is irrelevant, it's distance from the eye that determines how small the pixel can be resolved.

Um, no. Screen size means everything, and the ability for an eye to resolve something is a function of it's size and it's distance. Not just one over the other.

I've asserted that the difference between your 10" and 21" distances isn't the significant factor, and I stand behind that.

Turn the resolution down on your 24" display from 1920x1080 to 1280x800 and tell me that "screen size doesn't matter."

Likewise, turn your 400dpi screen down to 200dpi on your 5" phone and try to tell me it makes any functional difference at all.

You've lost the plot.

RE: Pointless
By michael2k on 10/1/2012 5:29:09 PM , Rating: 2
Are you sure you aren't confused?

Turn the resolution down on your 24" display from 1920x1080 to 1280x800 and tell me that "screen size doesn't matter."

You've just increased the pixel size by 50% (assuming you meant 1920x1200 -> 1280x800). You can't make the screen size smaller, but you can definitely make the pixel size larger, which is exactly what I said:
it's distance from the eye that determines how small the pixel can be resolved

20/20 vision means you can resolve 1/16" at 20 ft, or a pixel at 300dpi at 10".

The difference between 400dpi and 200dpi is approximately the same as moving your phone closer by half (5" to my eye!) I can absolutely see the difference. Are you saying you can't see the difference between a phone held up at 10" and a phone held up at 5"?

Once you bring an iPhone up to 5", you should be able to see the pixels, meaning your point is wrong; there is in fact a functional difference between 200dpi and 400dpi.

RE: Pointless
By Motoman on 10/1/2012 6:41:39 PM , Rating: 2
You've made my point for me.

On a large screen at 21" (to use your specs), DPI is *very* important.

On a phone, your variance of 11" from a 5" screen to a 24" screen isn't nearly as important as the pixel density. You're messing with the wrong variable.

And since no one uses a phone at 5" from their face, what difference does it make if you can see the pixels at that distance? You call that a "functional" difference? Only if you're horrifically short-sighted.

RE: Pointless
By michael2k on 10/1/2012 7:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
Your point would be made if you also said a 24" 4k monitor is pointless being that it is geometrically equivalent.

My point is that the difference between 400 dpi to 200 dpi is as big a change on a 5" screen as 200dpi to 100dpi on a 24" screen.

If you can see the difference on a 24" screen, you can see the difference on a 5" screen.

Apparent screen size, for example, is identical between a 24" screen at 4 feet and a 5" screen at 1 foot. Those are the distances where you can no longer "resolve" a pixel on a 1080p display.

Now while you don't normally hold a phone much farther or closer than 1', you definitely sit closer to your 24" display than 4', which means 1080p is woefully underspecced.

To get a similar "quality of life" out of a 24" display, you would need about a 4k monitor.

Are you going to now argue that you cannot visually appreciate a 4k 24" monitor? Because that is the "equivalent" geometry to a 5" 1080p screen which you say is pointless.

Me, as I've directly measured, can clearly see the pixels on a bog standard 1920x1200 24" display and can also clearly appreciate a 3840 x 2160 4k resolution.

RE: Pointless
By TakinYourPoints on 10/1/2012 7:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
Holy crap you're an idiot

RE: Pointless
By Solandri on 10/1/2012 8:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
Screen size is irrelevant. What's important is the angular separation between pixels. This is purely a function of DPI and distance from the eye to the screen. Screen size never factors into it.

150-200 DPI is a good target for screens viewed from about 2-3 feet away. 20/20 vision is the ability to distinguish two lines one arc-minute apart, or half an arc-minute per pixel (two black lines need a white line in between). So viewed at 36" the smallest distinguishable pixel is:

36" * tan(1/120 degrees) = 0.005236 inches, or 190.9 DPI. Any higher DPI than this is pointless at 36" inches - you can't see the difference with 20/20 vision.

If you squint at your phone from 12 inches away, this increases to 573 DPI. If you sit at a table with your big monitor 4 feet away, this drops to 143 DPI. Do note that this is for the very threshold of seeing - as in have to stare at it for a while to say for sure there are two lines and not one. In practical terms, moderately lower DPI is sufficient.

Along the same token, a TV viewed from 10 feet away only needs 57 DPI for 20/20 vision. For 1080p, that's a 39" screen. Similarly, a 4k screen (4096x2160) viewed from 10 feet would need to be 81" diagonal for you to just barely benefit from the resolution. For this reason I'm very skeptical of the market for 4k displays outside of theaters, work monitors, and for videophiles creating a cult over imperceptible improvements similar to audiophiles.

RE: Pointless
By TakinYourPoints on 10/1/2012 8:45:53 PM , Rating: 2
^^^ Exactly this. As many people here have been saying, the need for higher pixel density is partly the product of viewing distance.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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