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Cellphones Displays Iphone Apple Technology

iPhone 4's "Retina Display" Claims Challenged 476

Posted by timothy
from the obviously-you-need-an-i-retina dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Of the many things that buyers might need to know about the new iPhone, Raymond Soneira — president of DisplayMate Technolgies — added one more to the list. Soneira challenged Apple's claims that Apple's new iPhone contains a so-called 'retina display.' According to Soneira, the resolution of the retina is in angular measure, 50 cycles per degree, where a cycle is a line pair, which is two pixels, so the angular resolution of the eye is 0.6 arc minutes per pixel. So, if you hold an iPhone at the typical 12 inches from your eyes, that works out to 477 pixels per inch. At 8 inches it's 716 ppi. You have to hold iPhone 4 out about 18 inches before it falls to 318 ppi. So the iPhone has significantly lower resolution than the retina."
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iPhone 4's "Retina Display" Claims Challenged

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  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:13PM (#32516992) Homepage

    According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    For a human eye with excellent acuity, the maximum theoretical resolution is 50 CPD (Cycles Per Degree). A rat can resolve only about 1 to 2 CPD.

    I guess "rat-ina display" didn't sound as good to Apple marketing :-)

    But really, so it may be 18 inches for "true" retina display versus 12 inches. Ok... Big deal.

    --
    Join Guy Kawasaki and 250+ founders at the Founder Conference'2010 [thefounderconference.com]

    • by xTantrum (919048) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:19PM (#32517078)
      Who cares about a ritnawhatchumacallit. If i get an Iphone I'll get laid! :D
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:27PM (#32517190) Journal

        Who cares about a ritnawhatchumacallit. If i get an Iphone I'll get laid! :D

        I'm not sure how discriminating your taste is, or what your preference is, and I assume you're male...

        You are aware of what kind of person would be laying you because of your iPhone, right?

        I mean, they probably wouldn't be nerdy *AT ALL*. What good is that?

        • by blai (1380673) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:04PM (#32517644)

          You are aware of what kind of person would be laying you because of your iPhone, right?

          Hopefully female :)

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:13PM (#32517740)

          Nerd chicks dig wealth as much as any other kind. Yes, it's unfair.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hurricane78 (562437)

            It’s funny how people actually believe that.
            Dude, if you ever actually had tried picking up girls...
            It doesn’t matter shit! It’s rather that they are turned off by guys bragging about ooh, how expensive their shit was. And rich guys usually can’t stop that behavior.

            What actually makes you attractive, is the confidence of “I can have every girl, so why you?“. You stop being needy. You let them run after you not you after them. You stop caring, and just have fun.
            Of course i

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ArsonSmith (13997)

              You have obviously never hung around places where really rich people do. My wife works with a lot of people that are in the $1M+ salary range so occasionally I have had the chance go to these things. You will meet the slutiest gold diggers there you've ever seen. It really is a different world when you're rich. I'm not sure I would like it that much.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by initialE (758110)

            In my day, wealth was when you had a sports car. And I mean Italian or German, not some Japanese thing. Isn't that significantly more expensive than any iPhone you can buy?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            All chicks aren't like that. I've been dumped for unemployed losers; it's a matter of chemistry. Any woman who only goes for rich guys is a whore.

        • A Gizmodo editor? ...just saying...

          -- Terry

      • by MDMurphy (208495) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:42PM (#32517362)

        getting screwed != getting laid

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        If you get sent to a maximum security prison, you'll probably get laid too... be careful what you pray for, or at least be a little more specific.
      • If i get an Iphone I'll get laid!

        OK, an Iphone costs A$790 for the 8GB 3G model (cheapest model in AU) which is now been superseded twice. Lets assume you, no matter how fat and ugly you are, you will get laid once before the device is superseded or rendered non functional. A flight to the Philippines with Tiger Airways from Perth costs A$550, a hotel room as little as A$30 and a sexy Pinay lady is about 1500 PHP (A$40).

        Iphone A$790,
        PI: A$620,
        With the difference, you could get an additional 4.25 la

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by war4peace (1628283)
      So Apple basically measured their 300 ppi by looking at a monitor from 4 feet away, then took the hard number, applied it on an iPhone and there you have, the "retina display". Don't take me wrong, I couldn't care less, iWhatever products are not interesting to me for many reasons. I just am curious what makes Marketing tick :)
      • by severoon (536737) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:30PM (#32517940) Journal

        For what it's worth, the highest resolution photographs are typically printed ~300ppi. This is the standard used by glossy magazines (Playboy is the canonical reference mag here). Higher than that, most people don't see any difference at all.

        Years ago I remember reading a study on this that claimed most people could not reliably differentiate between images printed above 280ppi when asked to pick the image with more detail. However, a significant fraction of people were able to differentiate higher resolutions when asked to judge things like: "which image seems to jump off the page and seem more 3d?"

        I don't buy Apple because I don't support their need to own the entire hardware and software stack. However, I'm thrilled that they've put out the first device with a screen that is this hi-res. I hope that by this time next year, there are no phones made with screens under 300ppi.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:50PM (#32518654)

          What does that translate to in terms of halftone printing? There's a world of difference between 90000 dye-sublimation continuous tones per square inch, and 90000 little squares that can be exactly black, cyan, magenta, or yellow. That's one reason why a "300dpi" magazine like Playboy still looks richer and better than the 1200dpi output of a color laser printer, and why an inkjet printer almost always produces better-looking continuous-tone images (ie, photos) than any laser printer. A 1200dpi color laser printer uses most of its resolution to get better interpolation. An inkjet printer that sprays magenta ink over yellow ink produces a muddy orange as long as the yellow ink is still wet. A laser printer that prints magenta over yellow will end up with... magenta. Likewise, a true laser printer can (in theory, at least) do more with 300dpi than a "LED" laser-like printer, because the laser's brightness and beam diameter can be modulated a bit, so you can simulate real halftone patterns a bit more easily. In contrast, a LED laser-like printer is going to charge rectangular areas of constant dimension, so your resolution is literally *it*.

          It's kind of like trying to argue about the true resolution of a recent-vintage DLP light engine. In the old days, a DLP TV with 1280x720 resolution literally had 1280 x 720 little micromirrors on the DMD (well, more for overscan purposes, but it was basically a 1:1 correlation between a single micromirror and a single rendered pixel on the screen). Then, someone (Samsung?) figured out that if you used a brighter light and modulated their movement at a higher rate, you could use one mirror to illuminate a pair of adjacent pixels. Then the whole definition of native DLP resolution kind of went to hell, because nobody knew what a pixel of resolution on a DLP TV meant anymore.

          If you really want to get depressed, try shopping for a HD video camera that's more than a hundred bucks, but less than $10k. There's a huge gray area in between, and the liberties that some manufacturers (not necessarily the lowest-end Chinese imports, either) take with their advertised resolutions is borderline fraudulent. There are cameras with interlaced sensor modules that claim to be progressive by virtue of double-buffering a pair of fields internally and outputting them sequentially. There are cameras that alternate the sensors red-green-blue-green-red-green-..., then count a red-green pair as one pixel, and the adjacent blue-green pair as another pixel (hey! instant resolution-doubling makes the marketing department happy). It's sad, but in 2010 we're still reduced to taking digital photographs of black and white angled lines and using the same metric people had to use a hundred years ago for lack of a better way to describe camera resolution. 10 years ago, if you bought a camera with 1280x960 resolution, you knew damn straight it had 1280 clusters of red, blue, and green sensors horizontally, and 960 of 'em vertically. New cameras, alleged to have near-gigapixel resolution, commit frauds that basically amount to counting the number of discrete sensors sensitive to any wavelength of light, then play games with interpolation algorithms to see just how high they can claim their resolution is without getting indicted by state attorneys' offices for false advertising.

          • by GSPride (763993) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:17PM (#32519242) Homepage

            What does that translate to in terms of halftone printing? There's a world of difference between 90000 dye-sublimation continuous tones per square inch, and 90000 little squares that can be exactly black, cyan, magenta, or yellow. That's one reason why a "300dpi" magazine like Playboy still looks richer and better than the 1200dpi output of a color laser printer...

            If you're actually interested:

            "300dpi" is something of an oversimplification. Images are sent down at 300dpi. The printing plates are usually imaged by laser at 2400dpi, but each halftone cell takes up more then one "dot". Print resolution is measured in "lines per inch", and ranges from ~85 lpi for newsprint to over 200 lpi for higher end printing. I'd guess that playboy prints much closer to the 200lpi end of the spectrum.

            A "1200" dpi inkjet (usually more like 1440dpi) will be able to print 1440 dots per inch, but multiple dots are needed to make each halftone cell. In effect, even the best consumer level inkjets are half the resolution of an offset press.

            As for laser printers, if you look at the industrial level digital presses (many of which are really glorified laser printers), they produce print that is much closer to the level of an offset press, but then again they can cost well into the six figures, so I guess you get what you pay for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Lars T. (470328)

            What does that translate to in terms of halftone printing? There's a world of difference between 90000 dye-sublimation continuous tones per square inch, and 90000 little squares that can be exactly black, cyan, magenta, or yellow.

            What exactly does dye-sublimation have to do with actual (magazine) printing?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by buback (144189)

          For what it's worth, the highest resolution photographs are typically printed ~300ppi. This is the standard used by glossy magazines (Playboy is the canonical reference mag here).

          Yeah, i can't WAIT to see Playboy on the new iPhone.

          ...oh, wait. I just remembered something.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      >>>so it may be 18 inches for "true" retina display versus 12 inches. Ok... Big deal.

      The big deal is that it's false advertising. Steve said it produces an image greater than the human eye can see, when held at 10-12 inches length but that's not true. The eye can resolve approximately 500 pixels per inch at that distance, and the iPhone is only 320 ppi, so Steve's claim is not true.

      If another company like GM or BP had made a false claim, you'd be all over them and demanding the government sue the

      • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:41PM (#32517352)

        Umm.. who holds their iPhone 10 inches from their face? Maybe blind people.. but I usually have mine out at armish length.. 18-24 inches.

      • by lgw (121541)

        You do realize that that the MPEG encoding simply defines a point in the color space, which can then be displayed using a variety of pixel colors? Yellow pixels would presumably light up to help make yellows brigter. I'm not sure how this makes a display better, or why anyone thought it was a good idea, but there's technically nothing wrong with it. I'm sure there are DVDs carefully crafted to make such 4-color displays look better than standard displays in a showroom (with brightness and contrast cranke

        • >>>Yellow pixels would presumably light up to help make yellows brigter.

          That would explain why Obama's been looking more yellow on my new RGBY television..... but it doesn't represent reality. The source video is calibrated to RGB screens, and showing yellow with the R and G pixels. The addition of an extra yellow phosphor merely distorts the image.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by radish (98371)

        I don't recall Steve saying anything about 10-12 inches. I don't hold my phone that close when I'm using it, neither does my wife and to be honest neither does anyone I remember seeing recently. For me, it's more like double that.

    • by vivin (671928) <<vivin.paliath> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:35PM (#32517282) Homepage Journal

      So, if you hold an iPhone at the typical 12 inches from your eyes that works out to 477 pixels per inch and at 8 inches it's 716 ppi. You have to hold iPhone 4 out about 18 inches before it falls to 318 ppi. So the iPhone has significantly lower resolution than the retina

      No, no, no! Mr. Soneira has it all wrong! The math works out if you are inside a reality-distortion field, since all physical laws either change or do not apply inside said field!

      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:16PM (#32517772)

        No, no, no! Mr. Soneira has it all wrong!

        It is of course just as possible that he has it wrong as that Apple has. But it's going to be easy enough to test when the new phone is out. Draw a graphic of alternate black and white lines. If it looks grey, that's higher than retina resolution. If it looks like alternate lines, that's lower. See what distance from the eye one perception changes to the other.

        I'd be surprised if someone at Apple didn't try out this simple experiment. I'd be doubly surprised if the display manufacturer's didn't.

        We shall see for ourselves who "has it all wrong!"

    • by quadelirus (694946) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:47PM (#32518080)
      Yeah, and on top of that the guy says "significantly lower resolution." I doubt that 80% of iPhone users of the current iPhone have eyes still good enough to differentiate between neighboring pixels when holding the device 12 inches from their face. Some people love to split hairs, and /.ers love to post links to the hair-splitter blogs.
    • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:31PM (#32518456) Homepage

      You did read the WHOLE section, right? You didn't just immediately stop at the first number you saw in the article? You did get to this part...

              A resolution of 2 arcminutes per line pair, equivalent to a 1 arcminute gap in an optotype, corresponds to 20/20 (normal vision) in humans.

      The iris, well, irises. Depending on the level of background light, the resolution changes dramatically. The claim that this screen is in that area is by no means a stretch.

      Maury

    • by forceman130 (1233754) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:11PM (#32518798)
      I just assumed that it meant the screen was made from the retinas of baby seals and bunny rabbits. Or maybe ex-Foxconn factory workers.
  • Nailed 'em (Score:5, Funny)

    by snowwrestler (896305) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:16PM (#32517040)

    This sober, fact-based scientific argument will surely force Apple to adjust their bombastic, exaggerated marketing tactics.

  • by craznar (710808) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:20PM (#32517096) Homepage
    It isn't meant to have the same resolution as the retina, it is meant to have sufficient resolution at reading distance, just that pixels are not detectable by the retina. Also remember, the colour resolution of the eye is far poorer than the b&w resolution of the eye, and the aim here is about colour. So I think the original statement by Steve is squishy enough to hold up to this scrutiny.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by icebike (68054)

      Exactly my thoughts.

      The idea that fewer pixels is better seems bass-akwards.

      The statement:
      [QUOTE]
      "You have to hold iPhone 4 out about 18 inches before it falls to 318 ppi. So the iPhone has significantly lower resolution than the retina."
      {/QUOTE]

      Had me thinking I was missing some big ticket item in the story.

      Higher is better. If you can't discern a pixel thats great. That they have twice the resolution at which you start to see pixels is just gravy.

    • by Alef (605149) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:14PM (#32517752)

      Also remember, the colour resolution of the eye is far poorer than the b&w resolution of the eye, and the aim here is about colour.

      I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but the fovea responsible for your "high resolution" sight contains almost exclusively cones, which are colour sensitive. Most of them detect red and green light, so the resolution in monochromatic red or green isn't that far below white light.

      The rod cells on the other hand can only distinguish between black and white, but they are much sparser giving significantly lower resolution. (Their advantage is that they are extremely light sensitive, almost down to detecting a single photon. This is why you have no colour vision when it is dark. Another interesting consequence is that you are blind in the center of your visual field when light conditions are bad, since the fovea lacks rods.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Muad'Dave (255648)

        Their advantage is that they are extremely light sensitive, almost down to detecting a single photon.

        I read [scientificamerican.com] recently that the rods can detect single photons, but that the brain rejects any signal that was caused by less than 7 photons. How cool is that? Our brains have a built-in noise filter.

    • by shellbeach (610559) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:42PM (#32518046)

      It isn't meant to have the same resolution as the retina, it is meant to have sufficient resolution at reading distance, just that pixels are not detectable by the retina.

      Uh, detectable resolution is the topic of the article. And the point being, unless you read your iPhone held 18 inches away from your face, your eyes can detect more detail than the iPhone screen has -- hence being able to see pixels. The colour argument is a little spurious, incidentally, since fine gradations of colour look fine on even much lower resolution screens -- it's the regions of high contast, i.e. black and white, that irritate with current screens.

      Mind you, 18 inches is about the right reading distance for me when reading books on my ipod touch, and it's still an awesome screen resolution irrespective of whether I can see the pixels ...

  • by Chalex (71702) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:21PM (#32517116) Homepage

    Here's Apple's page about the new display: http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/retina-display.html

    They say "the Retina display’s pixel density is so high, your eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels." I suppose we can assume that they imply "at the typical distance at which you hold your iPhone" because otherwise the claim would be nonsense. Because surely you can hold it close enough to distinguish the pixels. (Unless you really can't, I haven't seen the screen).

    But in any case, it's more of a marketing claim than a technical spec. They do not literally mean "this screen has the same 'resolution' as your retina". Your retina doesn't even have pixels! They just mean "it makes web pages looks great!".

    So this "president of DisplayMate Technolgies" [sic] is tilting at windmills here.

    • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:32PM (#32517230)

      I've seen pictures of it, and it looks like crap. I have a nice 21" Viewsonic CRT monitor, running 1024x768

      • by Wovel (964431)

        Thumb sized pixels FTW!

      • I've seen pictures of it, and it looks like crap. I have a nice 21" Viewsonic CRT monitor, running 1024x768

        That's just because the reality distortion field doesn't affect cameras.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SporkLand (225979)

      I initially had the same reaction that the guy was getting pedantic about a term like "Retina display" which is obvious marketing bullshit.

      But as I read the rest of the summary (not the article, mind you) I realized that he was picking apart the claim that Jobs made that the screen resolution is higher than that of the retina. Which I think is fair game to critique.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I suppose we can assume that they imply "at the typical distance at which you hold your iPhone" because otherwise the claim would be nonsense.

      Yeah, that's the thing: You can't really talk about this sort of issue with pixel density alone. You can only talk about it as a function of both pixel density and viewing distance. So the first question is, what is the expected range of viewing distance for an iPhone?

      If the claim becomes true when you hold the phone 18" from your eyes, then that doesn't seem like too much of an exaggeration to me. I'd estimate I usually hold my phone at about that distance. Regardless, the overall point is to say, "we

      • Focal distance (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:02PM (#32517618) Homepage Journal

        "Yeah, that's the thing: You can't really talk about this sort of issue with pixel density alone. You can only talk about it as a function of both pixel density and viewing distance."

        No, actually it's possible to simply say that the human eye cannot discern individual pixels. Just like we can't discern individual molecules, no matter how close we hold the object to our eyes. There is an average minimum focal distance for the human eye, and if the object is held closer than that to try and discern more detail then it will become out of focus. If the DPI exceeds the human eye resolution at the typical minimum focal distance then the claim is valid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      >>>Your retina doesn't even have pixels!

      Yes it does. It has light sensitive spots which can be considered the equivalent of pixels (picture elements), same as a CCD has. True the eye is biological and the CCD is mechanical, but the basic principle is the same..... millions of these pixels make-up the image we see.

      • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:32PM (#32517968) Journal

        Yes, but the density, color sensitivity, and light sensitivity vary across the retina. The eye has a nice hack where the high resolution is only on-center, and we point that spot at whatever interests us. The total "pixels" on the retina are far smaller than the on-center resolution would suggest.

        Also, displays in general do a remarkably inaccurate job of rendering colors, they just choose colors that our eyes see the same as the originals (but a species with cones centered on different frequencies might think out displays odd). Most absorbtion spctra, emission spectra, and the ends of the monochromatic spectrum can't be displayed, but what is diplayed looks right in all but the last case (which has annoyed many a physics professor - you simply can't put an accurate spectrum on an electronic screen).

      • by rabtech (223758) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:42PM (#32518048) Homepage

        Sorta, but the eye's color sensing mechanism works on an opposing color system because the biological pigments in the cones of the retina don't just respond to one frequency of light, they have a bell-curvish response centered on one frequency, and the curves overlap. The M and L cones almost entirely overlap, while S cones are way off in the blue region, though light that only stimulates S without any M is typically seen as a violet color. When you "see" green light, it just means the M cones are stimulated more than the L cones, whereas deep reds will trigger more of the L cones, but also some M cones.

        What most people think of "pure" green is right around where the response curves for M and L meet in the middle. Yellow is where light peaks on the L cones but is still stimulating the M cones about half-strength. Both L and M overlap S on one tail end, on the other there is a very tiny range where the L cones are the only ones responding and that color is interpreted as a brownish color. Light that can stimulate only S and L cones without really triggering M cones is interpreted as magenta-ish.

        Some theories posit that trichromatic vision is a genetic mutation where the M cone gene was copied and mutated to result in a slight shift. If it were a truly independent adaptation, you might expect it to be much further away, about the same distance S and M are, which would give humans near infrared vision. (Dogs/etc that have bi-color vision only have the mammal's original S and M cones, so their brain gets the blue vs yellow and light vs dark signals. A few mammals have only rods, resulting in true monochromatic vision).

        Also, the retina ends up sending differential signal pairs to the brain: red vs green, blue vs yellow, and light vs dark, which has a huge effect on how the brain processes visual information. The naive expectation would be that it would just send the output of the three cones and the intensity, but that's not how it works. Not to mention the real-time color correction and processing, edge detection, shadow compensation, three-dimensional processing, etc.

        To sum up: Any attempt to compare raw pixels is idiotic by definition. A corollary to that is the only way to measure the quality of a display device is subjectively.

    • by PaulBu (473180)

      Your retina doesn't even have pixels!

      Rods and cones are not "pixels"? :)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fig_retine.png [wikipedia.org]

      Paul B.

    • by John Whitley (6067) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:00PM (#32517600) Homepage

      They do not literally mean "this screen has the same 'resolution' as your retina".

      Precisely. Quoting Steve Jobs' keynote from the WWDC via this transcript [macnn.com]:

      There's a magic number around 300DPI where, about a foot away, you can no longer see pixels; limit of the human retina.

      Note that in practice, this limit is going to vary (generally, get worse) by individual due to the overall condition of their visual system.

  • Eyestrain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:21PM (#32517120)

    Now holding iPhone in front of face at comfortable distance... Ruler tells me I'm holding it 18-20 inches away.

    However, 12 inches is still comfortable, and I do see people holding their phones that close, just not me. And 24-30" seems to be where I hold it when I'm looking at it in the discreet from-the-waist manner.

    This guys argument reminds me vaguely of the guy who asked about Itchy striking Scratchy's same rib twice and making two distinct notes.

    • by Dunx (23729)

      I would go further - literally: 12" is very uncomfortable. I don't look at things that closely when I'm trying to paint them, let alone trying to read text. And 8"? Come off it.

      I'm wondering where this guy got his "typical" from.

    • 18 inches? Wow. How can you see at that distance? I don't own an iPhone, but when I borrow my friend's I typically hold it at 6-8 inches, so I can read the website text. And yes I can see the "jaggy" edges.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Theaetetus (590071)

        18 inches? Wow. How can you see at that distance? I don't own an iPhone, but when I borrow my friend's I typically hold it at 6-8 inches, so I can read the website text. And yes I can see the "jaggy" edges.

        C A N Y O U R E A D T H I S T E X T ?

        Seriously, I think the problem is your eyes. 6 inches is not normal reading distance, unless you're Mister Magoo.

  • 12 inches? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:22PM (#32517144) Homepage Journal

    Has anyone done actual studies on average distance of a smartphone from one's eyes, or is he making up the 12 inch stat?

    I'd say I range between 12 and 18 depending on how I'm using the phone.

  • It's still better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uvsc_wolverine (692513) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:23PM (#32517150) Homepage
    It's all just marketing speak anyway. It IS a higher-resolution display, but giving it a name like "retina" to a display is just the marketing guys trying to make you think that you won't notice any pixelation. That being said it is a better looking display than what's on the 3G/3GS. I think it's also likely that the average person won't notice much pixelation on the new display anyway.
  • by Swampash (1131503) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:26PM (#32517180)
    Jesus, is this guy an Oompa-Loompa or something? I can't wait for the public relations backlash from the Union of Amputees and Thalidomide Children, complaining that Apple's marketing is biased towards people who can hold the Iphone 18 inches from their faces.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:28PM (#32517194)

    In other news, the iPad is not actually magical.

  • by Senjutsu (614542) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:29PM (#32517214)
    Android OS is not actually an operating system by or for Androids.

    Windows 7 wasn't really the idea of some random people in cafes and showers.

    Saturns - not actually made on Saturn. Surprising, I know.

    The Emotion Engine has never shed a single tear.

    Magic Markers have no magical properties.
  • by The Bad Astronomer (563217) <thebadastronomerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:33PM (#32517250) Homepage
    The PC mag article linked is confusing and poorly worded. I also think it's not quite correct. Basically, the human eye at 12 inches, according to their expert, can resolve 477 pixels per inch. Anything higher than that won't make the picture any clearer, but anything lower will look fuzzier (or pixellated). Since the iPhone 4 has a pixel density of 326 per inch, the expert says the claims of retinal resolution are false. However, he assumes the human eye has a resolution of 0.6 arcminutes (there are 60 arcminutes to a degree). I doubt most people have that good of eyesight; the number I always hear is about 1 arcminute for the eye. At 12 inches, that corresponds to a display of 286 pixels per inch to get retinal resolution, which the iPhone surpasses. So sure, if someone with extremely good vision uses this new iPhone, it'll be ever so slightly blurry. But c'mon, we're geeks here, and all wear glasses anyway, right? And either way, I don't think this means the claims by Jobs are *false*. At worst they're are very slightly misleading.
    • I should add that the article does state: "'It is reasonably close to being a perfect display, but Steve pushed it a little too far,' Soneira said." That's a reasonable statement. But just wait until the Apple haters and fanbois get into this. Yikes.
  • So if Apple claims the "pixel density is so high, your eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels" ... does that mean the iPhones v5, 6, 7, etc will continue to use the same resolution display since nothing higher will be noticeable by humans? Or is it obviously more likely that displays will continue to improve for the foreseeable future. Coming in 2011: iPhone featuring the revolutionary Retina Display HD!
  • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:36PM (#32517292)

    The Nexus One is NOT in fact a real android!

    You are NOT related to the Microsoft KIN!

    The Blackberry is NOT edible! Neither is the LG Chocolate.

    And you can NOT shave with a Moto Razr. Trust me, I have tried.

  • First, he's can't be challenging that it has a "Retina Display", because that's an Apple Trademark. It obviously has a Retina Display. He can challenge Apple's assertion that the dpi of the display, when held at 12", is beyond the capabilities of the human eye. Absolutely he can challenge that.

    Don't phrase it as challenging that the iPhone has a "Retina Display", though. (Especially when the so-called "attacker" actually PRAISES the display!)

    Finally, I don't know about 12", anyway. I tend to hold my ph

  • Balderdash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:50PM (#32517482)

    balderdash and poppycock, on so many levels:

    (1) The human eye has very variable resolution. Down in the fovea it may be up at this guy's numbers, but much less everywhere else.

    (2) The eye's color receptors are much farther apart, and therefore of poorer resolution, that the monochrome receptors. That's why the old NTSC standard had about 1/3 the color bandwidth than the Y bandwidth.

    (3) The iPhone, and every other LCD screen, has three color elements per pixel, while the eye has like 1/3. That's a NINE TIMES difference that this guy is glossing over.

    (4) It really doesn't matter. We don't spend our lives inspecting individual pixels-- we let our brain process the images into coherent high-level objects, such as "letters" and "faces".

    Otherwise okay.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blair1q (305137)

      Down in the fovea it may be up at this guy's numbers, but much less everywhere else.

      The only place you really care about acuity is in the fovea. Try reading something more than one degree off center some time. Your eye will fight to put it in the center.

      That's why the old NTSC standard

      Comparing something unfavorably to NTSC is going to get you marked as a nutter.

      The iPhone, and every other LCD screen, has three color elements per pixel, while the eye has like 1/3. That's a NINE TIMES difference that this

  • by AmunRa (166367) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:51PM (#32517486) Homepage
    According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], for an 'excellent' human eye the PC World analyst is correct; however for us average joes with 20/20 vision (or worse) Apple's claims are accurate:-

    For a human eye with excellent acuity, the maximum theoretical resolution is 50 CPD[32] (1.2 arcminute per line pair, or a 0.35 mm line pair, at 1 m).

    ...A resolution of 2 arcminutes per line pair, equivalent to a 1 arcminute gap in an optotype, corresponds to 20/20 (normal vision) in humans

    If my math is correct then this is 60% worse than the 'excellent' eye; so the figure of 477 ppi at 12 inches is 286.2ppi; so well within the retina display's capability.

  • You're all wrong. Everyone knows that Steve Jobs has a habit of slurring his "w"s into "r"s. Wetina is the actual name, and it's not for the screen. It means when a guy is walking down the street displaying his iPhone 4, it'll make all the girls wetina' you know where.
  • Claiming a "retina display" without specifying a viewing distant is blatant bullshit. Every display is a "retina display" at some distance... for an iPhone, the distance just a few inches closer than its current competitors.
  • by nick357 (108909)

    According to arstechnica's keynote LiveBlog, Steve said:

    Retina display has 326 pixels per inch ...
    It turns out there's a "magic number" right around 300 pixels per inch. When you hold something about 10-12 inches away from your eye, there's a limit in the human retina to differentiate the pixels ...
    at 326 pixels, we are comfortably over that limit

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/06/wwdc-keynote-steve-jobs-liveblog.ars [arstechnica.com]

  • by gig (78408) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:03PM (#32517636)

    It's about publishing, not anatomy. This argument is like saying we should have celebrated the millenium in 2001.

    Jobs said "300 dpi is a magic number" and indeed it is. He is referring to an ancient publishing standard. In print publishing, 300 dpi is "laser quality". It is very common for a graphic artist to create a "print" version of an artwork at 300 dpi and an "online" version at 72 dpi (effectively zero, or "resolution unknown", or 1:1 pixel ratio). We have looked forward to 300 dpi screens for many years because then you just make one 300 dpi version for both print and screen. The most important number on the dpi resolution ruler is 300. It is extremely significant to ship the first 300+ dpi screen.

    A similar magic number in audio is 20kHz, the generally accepted upper limit of human hearing and the standard for "CD audio". The CD was significant because it passed the 20kHz magic number, and consumer audio still uses that frequency range today, 30 years later.

    The key thing with these magic numbers is that below them you get dramatically lower quality but above them you get severely limited returns. 300 dpi and 20kHz are the points where it takes an expert to tell the difference between them and a higher quality. Most people can tell the difference between 200 and 300 dpi, but most people cannot tell te difference between 300 dpi and 600 dpi.

    So the author of this article should have done some publishing industry research, some graphic arts research, instead of researching the eye. That is what Steve Jobs talks about when he says Apple is not just technology but also liberal arts, a broader knowledge of the world than just science.

    This article is not just ignorant, it's also mean-spirited, small-minded. Like people who say "Think Different" is bad grammar. It's poetry you fuck. Broaden your horizons.

     

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dfghjk (711126)

      300 dpi, like 72 dpi before, is just an arbitrary number. 300 dpi being "laser quality" is because the original laser marking engines were 300 dpi. 300 dpi laser wouldn't cut it today.

      There's nothing magic or significant about these numbers. In fact they are pulled out of someone's butt. Now that Steve has pulled them out of his, they suddenly smell like roses. Hey Steve, how about giving us better resolution on our desktops?

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:55PM (#32518148) Homepage Journal

    Next you'll be proving that, if you examine the facts carefeully, Pepsi isn't really the choice of a new generation.

  • by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:34PM (#32518950)

    This is the dumbest article I have ever seen on any subject ever. How much more can someone grasp at straws? It's a nice display, just stop. No one ever said "It has a resolution greater than or equivalent to the human retina," they just call it a "Retina" display because it *sounds* fancy. It's a fucking marketing name...
    I've argued about some pretty stupid stuff in my day (but capacitive means you can't use a stylus! How are you supposed to get to all those tiny menus!), but this is ridiculous.
    -Taylor

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