Thinner. Lighter. Faster. Apparently, less expensive is relegated to the history books, yet we should anticipate overall quality of Apple’s gadgets to improve. It just won’t happen with yesterday’s prices or today’s prices.
Retina Display? Meh!
I have an iMac with a Retina 5K display sitting on my home desk. The Retina display was launched on the Mac in late 2014. Do your standard Google or Amazon search for Retina 5K display and what do you get?
Apple’s iMac tops the list of search results, but I found two models on Amazon. Most search results are 4K Retina displays. I have one that I use for my MacBook Pro at home. Apple’s 5K Retina display is better. What’s the future going to bring?
8K Ultra Retina display.
The nature of technology is to improve and refine every component. We see that more frequently in the iPhone, iPad, and smartphones than we do the Mac, but progress marches forward. The original Mac came with a tiny black and white display, a floppy disk drive, and MacPaint and MacWrite. That was it. $2,495. That’s about $6,000 in today’s money, so an iMac Pro is cheap by 1984 standards.
In fact, the past 35 years of the Mac’s history is similar to that of personal computers in general. Thinner, lighter, faster, better displays, more built-in applications, more stable OS, and… insert the famous Mac360 drum roll here… lower prices. Those days are gone. Apple’s latest Mac, the Mac mini and MacBook Air, both came with prices higher than their predecessors.
Yes, both Air and mini arrived with better hardware, too. The days of improved hardware and more software are gone. iPhone X proved that hardware may improve but prices will go up.
So, what’s next?
8K Ultra Retina Display.
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory’s panels are claimed to have a resolution of 7,680 by 4,320 pixels for both sizes, with the 8.3-inch version refreshing at 60Hz while the 13.3-inch panel can operate at up to 120Hz. On a pixel-per-inch basis, this means the 8.3-inch panel has a pixel density of 1,062, while the larger model offers 663ppi.
Compare that to the iPhone Xs and Xs Max which have 458ppi, and iPad Pro with 264ppi, and MacBook Pro at 227ppi. Clearly, the future of Mac displays is the same as high definition television. Higher resolution. Much higher resolution.
But not this year. Higher resolution displays cost more money to make.
The development of 8K-resolution displays is a natural progression from the 4K panels that are used in televisions and monitors, and in a few smartphones, such as the Sony Z5 Premium. The higher resolutions also offer up more problems for mobile device producers, as more processing and energy resources are required to drive the displays compared to lower-resolution versions, making adapting the technology to mobile platforms tricky.
At what point does a higher resolution display become overkill?
I look at my iPhone Xs Max and that 458ppi looks pretty damned good. My 1080p high definition TV already makes actors look older and weathered (or, stuffed with make up). Visits to Best Buy to view 4K HDR displays tells me what should be obvious. The difference between 4K and 8K will be difficult to see because the difference between 2K HD and 1080p is a challenge; the difference between 2K HD and 4K HDR (4 times the resolution) is a challenge.
8K displays will look better than reality, especially if they arrive with anywhere near 600ppi, and make reality look bad.
You just know Apple is working on Mac notebooks and an iMac that has an Ultra Retina 8K display.