Feature: Apple's iPad

The iPad Retina Display: Resolutionary (Sometimes)

Author: Andrew Froehlich
Published: March 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm

When I first unboxed the new iPad this morning, my first impression was "meh". Because, as we all know, the new iPad hardware is nearly identical to the old one. While I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of physical design changes, I completely understand Apple's thinking. Just look at the current MacBook Pro design as a comparison. The MBP has been relatively unchanged for nearly four years now and still is a beautiful piece of hardware.

But the design of the new iPad wasn't what I was most interested in. Nor was the faster processor, better rear-facing camera or the voice-to-text capabilities. Instead, I wanted to get a look at that amazing new Retina display everyone has been raving about.

Powering on a new gadget for the first time is always an exciting experience for a computer geek such as myself. Even though I've read other reviews that had a brief look at the new iPad, I still was blown away at how crystal clear the display looked without a hint of pixilation when viewing at a normal distance.

Well, let me rephrase that. The screen looked amazing when the apps could handle the higher-resolution that Retina offers.

Apps such as the latest update for GarageBand and all of the iPad pre-installed apps looked unbelievable on the 9.7 2048 x 1536 display. But on apps that haven't yet been optimized, many custom graphics and lower resolution images were not near as crisp — although not distractingly so.

So while the new display is far superior for web browsing and Retina-optimized apps, keep in mind that developers will need time to support the much higher resolution in their apps. Remember, this was the case when running iPhone-only apps on the original iPad. But as time passes, app developers will modify their apps to take advantage of the new screen real estate. And when the tipping point occurs where you have the majority of apps capable of handling 264 pixels per inch (PPI), this is when the new iPad will truly become "resolutionary".

One of the negative aspects of being an early adopter is having a new technology that you can't quite take advantage of on day one. While there are several iPad apps that can handle the new iPad Retina display, most unfortunately cannot. Given the popularity of past iPads, however, developers will likely work day and night to take advantage of the new iPad's superior screen.


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Article Author: Andrew Froehlich

Andrew Froehlich is the President of West Gate Networks, a network and IT consulting firm based in Colorado. He has over 12 years of technology experience with 10 of those years focused on network, security and IP voice solutions. …

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