The Rush to Retina

Apple recently announced it’s new MacBook — a 15″ notebook computer with a Retina (ultra high resolution) display.

Make no mistake, “Retina” style displays are the future. They’re a whole new level of clarity, and for computing — which can be taxing on the eyes — the precision text and pixelation-free imagery is great. The difference is particularly startling when looking at screens existing at a distance nearer to your eye than the traditional computer monitor: smartphones, tablets, and by extension, notebooks. I imagine desktop monitors will be the last to move to high-PPI/DPI technology, for a variety of reasons.

And frankly, I’m glad the “movement” will be gradual. Our perception of what is a standard for graphical imagery on a computer monitor, your 72 DPI sort of standards, need to be updated. This will happen slowly. If you look at a “New iPad” (Generation 3) today, the Retina display is phenomenal… until you receive a graphics-heavy email (like a newsletter). You’ll then quickly notice how these images seem blurry, and they are — they’re pixel-doubled, or “upsized,” as they’re not natively designed for a high-PPI display.

High-speed internet is the norm these days, but developers, designers, and web-gurus need to get behind pushing higher-resolution imagery. You won’t see this become widespread until Retina-style displays make it into more laptops and computing devices, like tablets. Then the desktop displays will come. By then, we should be experiencing a high-PPI web, and even the most barebones graphics cards will be able to power, say, a 24″ widescreen Retina display.

But we’re not there yet, and I’m not in a hurry to upgrade to a “Next Generation” MacBook. The New iPad was enough of a leap for me. For now.

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