We're hard at work on our review on the new iPad but with a fair bit of display analysis under our belts I thought a quick post might be in order. One of the major features of the new iPad is its 2048 x 1536 Retina Display. Apple kept the dimensions of the display the same as the previous two iPad models, but doubled the horizontal and vertical resolution resulting in a 4x increase in pixels. As display size remained unchanged, pixel density went through the roof:

Pixel Density Comparison

Although the iPad 2 has a fairly high pixel density compared to most of Apple's Mac/display lineup, you're more likely to hold a tablet closer to your eyes which made the low resolution/pixel density problematic. The new iPad addresses this issue as you can see from the chart above. I can't focus closely enough to the panel to actually make out pixels on the new iPad, much less at a normal viewing distance. With the aid of a macro lens we can definitely identify individual pixels. The improvement over the iPad 2 display is striking:

To the left we have the original 1024 x 768 panel, and to the right we have the new Retina Display. At this distance you can still identify individual pixels, an ability that quickly vanishes at normal viewing distances. The Music app icon is an even better example of what you gain from the newer display as it has more high contrast edges that appear more aliased on the 1024 x 768 panel:

The old iPad's 1024 x 768 resolution was fairly bothersome when it came to reading text on web pages or books. Most Android tablets standardizing on 1280 x 800 offered an advantage in that respect, albeit not delivering significantly higher pixel density. The new iPad completely resolves this issue. Hover over the links below to see roughly the same paragraph of text from our retail Radeon HD 7870 review on the iPad 2, new iPad and ASUS Transformer Prime:

Apple iPad 2 Apple iPad (3rd gen) ASUS TF Prime
original original original

While it's still obvious that you're looking at a screen and not an e-ink display, the pixels perform a good disappearing act on the new iPad.

Going Into the Pixel: Retina Display Under a Microscope
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  • vishal_ec - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - link

    So any word on rest of the benchmarks ? Reply
  • ol1bit - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the quick write up on the display. The resolution is out of this world! I current have a 24inch Dell monitor 1920x1200 for my workstation that you reviewed a few years ago. Amazing, the Ipad3 blows it away with a better resolution at smaller than 1/3 the size and still has 10 hour battery life!

    I am now contemplating my first tablet purchase, just because of this screen. I've never in my life bought an Apple product yet, but this might make me do it. I currently have the HTC Rezound, which has one of the best resolutions for a smart phone, and blows away my original droid in most all areas other than screen hardness, it scratches way to easy.

    At my 46 year old age, the 4.3 inch screen just isn't good for watching movies or reading a book, and as much as I like the sound of the fire, the better the text is on the screen, the easier it will be for reading.

    Some people think Apple didn't go far enough, but for me the screen eclipses everything in the world, and does it portable!

    Thanks again!
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    I don't know why it wasn't included as a comparison, but there will be a 1920x1200 Asus Transformer out shortly. The DPI won't be quite as high as the iPad, but it will be fairly close. Reply
  • WaltFrench - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    How would AnandTech review unavailable products? There's ALWAYS something newer/faster/better coming next year.

    Except that sometimes, any specific item does not. I suppose Asus is in the game for some time to come, but it sure seems like < 10% of the tablets announced in early 2011 ever made it close to retail.

    Only then will the issue shift to the overall usability/attractiveness of the total OS/hardware/retail/service/app experience. The Transformer line has gotten some attention for having an excellent display, but now that the display will be “almost as good,” the other factors will come into sharper relief.
    Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    Actually you could have compared it with previous 7-inch hardware, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Plus with 1280x800 is 196 DPI. A Huawei MediaPad 7" 1280x800 is about 215 DPI. If comparing it with other sized screens where that relevant here. Of course we have had 15.0" 2048x1536 screens on laptops too there is also high res 22" screens for medical use with 3840x2400, that's 204 DPI on a desktop. That is actually retina based on Apples calculation of screen distance if you like to call it that. I don't think you need to hit that sweet spot though. High-dpi is nice but there is more to consider in most cases. So of course it's more to look at in the world of high-res screens. Reply
  • xenol - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    I have an LG spectrum, one of the few 720p 4.5" phones sporting a PPI of something like 326. Reply
  • sonicmerlin - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    You should be aware that iOS doesn't have text reflow in the browser. A couple browsers allow you to increase font size, but that only works on simple web sites. Often times it completely breaks the layout and/or causes lines to overlap.

    So if you're planning on doing a lot of web browsing with less than perfect website, the iPad might not be the device for you.
    Reply
  • jontech - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    The Screen is a Godsend. I always hated looking at poor saturated photos I took, which looked beautiful on my Dell u2410
    Now they look good on both :)

    Now if we could get Apple to make a 4k monitor :)

    or Dell :)
    Reply
  • Griswold - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    Neither of the two is going to make a 4k monitor before those who work the real magic (the panel makers) are ready for it at a reasonably production price.

    Besides, you'll likely see it first from the highest end of the spectrum, like Eizo or NEC, not apple or dell.
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    IBM released a 4K monitor over a decade ago. Reply

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