You know those retina display iPad 2 rumors? Yeah, they were still very wrong, but now we have some reason to believe that the next iPad may cross the magic 300 pixels-per-square-inch threshold that qualifies a screen as a Retina display. That screen has been developed by Samsung subsidiary Nouvoyance, and packs more pixels than the current twenty-seven inch iMac. In other words, it’s impressive, coming in at 2560-by-1600 pixel resolution. It’s not all unicorns and puppies, though.
There’s a caveat. The same feature that helps it use less power might also be its greatest drawback. PenTile RGBW is a screen technology that uses fewer sub-pixels than traditional LCDs. Without going in to the dirty specifics, these types of screens have been featured on several popular AMOLED smartphones, like the Nexus One and the HTC Incredible, as well as the SAMOLED Nexus S and the traditional LCD screen of the Motorola Atrix 4G. This isn’t a great technology; while it will cut down on battery use to some degree, it also causes some of the sharpness of the screen to be lost. Since the resolution of the Samsung tablet screen is 2560-by-1600, and the size is 10.1 inches, that comes out to 298.9 pixels-per-inch. By the current definition of Apple (which is a marketing term, and thus could be changed, after all), that’s below the 300 ppi bottom end. Add that to the PenTile arrangement, and it doesn’t seem particularly likely to be appearing on an Apple iPad anytime soon. Even on my HTC Incredible, which has the standard 800-by-480 pixel Android screen at 3.7″, text is not crisp or sharp, despite it having 252.15 pixels-per-square-inch.
Now, besides all of that technical chatter, I do want to stress that this would be a pretty great improvement over what the iPad currently has. It’s a gigantic leap forward, but I’ve yet to see an Apple product that includes a PenTile layout, for the reasons outlined above. Instead, I could see Apple developing their Retina screen with someone else (possibly LG, who has historically been a big supplier of screens for Apple’s iDevices), while this particular screen is implemented on various next-gen Android tablets.
The screen will be shown off at SID Display Week 2011 International Symposium, which kicks off next week. The screen should be available later this year for commercial availability, which would pin the release date of tablets using this particular part in early to mid 2012.