Tech 42-Inch TV

Published on February 9th, 2013 | by Guest Writer

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Do We Really Need 42-Inch TV-Like 1080p Displays On Smartphones?

2012 was the era of rising screen sizes and great display resolutions (how many pixels are fit into the screen display) on smartphones and tablets. As technology allowed for increased screen sizes from the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S right up to 5.5-inch with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, resolutions kept apace.

Screen resolutions are tricky things because the better the resolution, the more powerful the battery needed power it. When Apple wanted to make the iPad smaller, thinner and half the weight for the iPad mini, they had little choice but to swap out the beloved Retina Display for a display resolution last seen in the now ancient iPad 2. Some saw it as an acceptable compromise, while others felt it was a step backwards and vowed to wait until technology allowed for the merging of smaller form with HD screen function.

As last year ran its course, batteries came out with enough power to keep these large screens with even larger resolutions powered throughout the day. And this changed everything.

1080P, being the 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution of BluRay discs, is a resolution that has already been surpassed. Both the MacBook Pro with Retina Display and the iPad 3 & iPad 4 offer resolutions at least 50% better, sharper and clearer. As 2013 is upon us, we now face a new challenge with 1080p displays starting to show up in hi-end smartphones.

One of the first is Sony with their Xperia Z phone. The model comes with a skin over the top of Android Jelly Bean 4.1 which emphasises the HD wallpaper behind and places the app icons on a separate graphical layer above it. The phone itself is top quality using a quad-core processor which helps apps to open in a split second. The 5-inch display itself is pin sharp, colourful and makes a strong impression with close to 400 pixels per inch (ppi).

Looking around at the current range of smartphones, the Note 2 from Samsung has a 1280 x 720 display which on the 5.5-inch screen looking very cool. This is exactly 720p, which was the predecessor to the “Full HD” 1080p resolution. But here is the thing: You cannot tell the difference. At 720p, so many pixels are being crammed into such a small screen size (relatively speaking) that you cannot see individual pixels unless you become Sherlock Holmes and pull out a magnifying glass. After all, 1080p is the current display standard for most plasma TVs today which run up to sizes in the 50-55 inch range. If a 1080p image can be stretched out to 50 inches and still look good, then surely a 720p image can be shrunk down to display on a 5.5 inch “phablet” and look equally respectable?

Therefore, before the mad scramble for a new smartphone that has a 1080p display card inside, have a think whether you can even find a use for a display this sharp. Movies with 1080p resolutions take up so many gigabytes that they are just not suitable for storage on a smartphone. The best you can do is see a wallpaper background with little more detail and a 1080p movie trailer from Apple. Is it worth it?

Peter Miles likes to check out new apps to try on his trusty iPhone 4 .

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