Next frontier for Apple retina displays could be MacBooks

Next frontier for Apple retina displays could be MacBooks

Summary: Having conquered the iPhone and iPad, Apple's retina display technology could be looking for new screens to brighten, with new MacBooks the likeliest recipients of the extra pixel density.

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Having conquered the iPhone and iPad, Apple's retina display technology could be looking for new screens to brighten. According to Ars Technica, there are clues in the latest version of OS X that retina screens could be coming to the Mac world, with new MacBooks the likeliest recipients of the extra pixel density.

As the screen here shows, there are certain icons in new developer's code for the forthcoming Mountain Lion version of OS X (10.8) that are double sized, perhaps left in by mistake but resulting in plenty of speculation about why they are in there in the first place.

This isn't the first time that the double-sized icons have been located in OS X code, with some cropping up in version 10.7.3 of Lion, and there are other clues about retina displays like a HiDPI display mode buried in the code.

There are so many rumors floating around Apple's next steps that it's hard to separate the smoke from the fire. But all of the speculation about the retina display coming to the iPad was ultimately correct, and this would be just the type of defining feature the MacBooks refreshes could use as Intel's Ultrabook platform makes inroads using the same design features of the MacBook Air. So maybe the tea-leaf readers of OS X code are on to something.

Would a "retina display" make you want to purchase a new Apple MacBook, or do you think the technology can't make as much of a difference on a laptop screen? Let us know in the Comments section.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

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21 comments
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  • Intel's integrated graphics in the Macbook Air are simply crappy

    If Apple wants a retina display on the Air, they'd better find an alternative to Intel's awful graphics.

    How about an Nvidia or AMD discrete GPU? The only problem is that a GPU upgrade would require more space and power consumption.

    Steve famously said in his bio that Intel's graphics "suck". What will Apple do to solve the crappy Intel graphics problem? Intel's own Ultraclones use Nvidia graphics. Even Intel seems to know their own graphics suck.
    RichardEich
    • Intel's new mobile SoC uses the same GPUs as Apple's A5/A5X

      That is PowerVR SGX-544 (DirectX-compatible, rather than OpenGL-only compatible version of SGX-543). However, Intel's chip is not in mass production yet.

      By the way, Sean calls HiDPI icons "double sized", which is wrong. Those are [b]quadruple[/b] sized.
      DDERSSS
    • Ya gotta love how people quote statements

      from years ago and apply them today as if technology never changes. If intel graphics sucked five years ago, then they suck TODAY.
      baggins_z
  • Would be great!

    Lose the Intel graphics solution and retinize the MBA, allow it to use 16:9 display format.
    SevenEd
    • Why? 16:9 loses too much vertical space.

      And since movies is only one thing you do on a laptop, and nearly all movies today are WIDER than 16:9, what advantage, exactly are you gaining? Other than bragging rights for following the herd of lemmings, that is.
      baggins_z
    • The 11" is already 1280x720.

      Personally, I think more displays should be 16:10. Editing 1080p content on a 1920x1200 monitor is much easier than on a 1920x1080 monitor.
      Champ_Kind
    • Display formats

      The 16:9 display format is ridiculous and impractical for anybody that does any work on a computing device. Fortunately, there are a few people left in the world who don't spend all their time watching movies or playing video games. Otherwise, there would be no new Apple devices, or any others.

      Give us back our 4:3 displays!
      jorjitop
  • Back to the future

    Yep a hi-res 4:3 screen. Putting that on, would make Macs seem even more antiquated.
    tonymcs@...
  • Fix the dust magnet glass surface of the screen first.

    Retina is nice and all that, but fix the surface first. My Macbook pro screen is the worst dust magnet I've ever seen. I have never [b]ever[/b] been able to remove all the dirt and dust with just a microfiber cloth, and I never use it in a dusty environment. This appears to be a common problem with the MBP screen surfaces these days.
    Matte displays may sound antiquated these days, but they are still preferred by millions of us for a reason.
    kraterz
    • Agreed

      about the current generation of Macbook Pro screens. That glossy screen seems to attract way too much reflection and dust. That's probably why I'm still loving my old 2008 Macbook Pro with it's matte screen.

      Although I thought I did hear that the new MBPs could get the matte screen as an option for some $50-100 extra. Don't know that for sure though.
      MasterE@...
  • High-res has issues.

    Putting the existing display on a Macbook isn't really useful, it needs to be scaled according to that form factor.

    Another issue is that there are diminishing returns in having a high-res display but still having a 24-36" viewing distance. You have to put a lot of extra resources in the device to support the resolution, but it's not that useful to the human eye in many circumstances. It's nicer to look at no doubt, but you can't really move it closer to your face to examine a lot of fine detail they way you can a tablet (or a printed page for that matter).
    terry flores
    • I would recommend you go to the Apple store and take a look

      at an iPad 3. For those old enough to remember when they first saw a laser printed page as opposed to their crappy dot-matrix printer output, you will know exactly why the retina display is such a big deal.
      baggins_z
      • I remember that far

        But as a website developer, telling customers "If you want to support iPad 3 users, be expected to pay a lot more for bandwidth option that website hosts offer, because the iPad 3 demands a LOT more of it for the new resolution."

        Indeed, another ZDNet article told of a Martha Stewart cookbook going from 300MB to 700MB, also proving that anything under 64GB is going to be filled up all too quickly...

        I can see the difference between 72PPI and 300PPI, but I cannot justify the costs for such a niche product. Not because most people are content with 72PPI (or simply don't care about the added resolution given the price), but until other factors play catch-up, assuming they choose to (and they have their own ramifications in their own choices... either way, we're all in this together...)
        HypnoToad72
      • You know, Hypno...

        ... you can still use standard res images on an iPad. From what I can tell, the device uses bicubic or tri-cubic rendering to increase the resolution of standard 72 dpi images and the previous 132dpi apps so they still look relatively clear on that high-res display. However, I can understand app developers using higher-res images since they'll want everything to "look pretty".

        However, I'm with you on the 64GB comment. Personally, I think Apple would have been better serviced with a 32/64/128 set of options instead of 16/32/64.
        Champ_Kind
    • Is YOUR head fixed

      in some particular location?

      I know that if I need to see more detail on a notebook screen I simply move my head and thus my eyes closer to the screen. So while higher resolution might have some issues, I for one, would welcome having more than the current pixels on a Macbook Pro.
      MasterE@...
  • I doubt it.

    Apple could have put IPS panels in MacBooks a long time ago, but hadn't.

    Most of Apple's sales come from iPhones and iPads.

    They hype up the Cloud and other venues.

    The MacBook platform won't disappear, but Apple isn't going to put anything more into it than necessary. It's not their biggest cash-raking-in product.
    HypnoToad72
  • Interesting speculation...

    Interesting speculation, Sean, but of course that's all it is. With Apple, you never know what might happen. But it is certainly time for a major refresh of the MacBooks, and a retina display would surely be a great start. Doc is in the market for a new laptop and thinks he might just wait in case your prognostication turns out to be correct. That would be definitely sweet.
    DocuMentor (Doc)
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