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Does Apple’s new iPad Air Need 4k Resolution?

by on July 6, 2014
 

by Stephan Jukic – July 6th, 2014

The time of the year in which Apple starts showing off and releasing new products is starting to creep up on the public and if rumors are to be believed, the new iPad Air that is going to be unveiled will feature some heavy duty upgrades. These are supposed to include a much more powerful A8 processor, TV game console capability and, most interesting of all, 4K resolution.

What makes the question of the iPad’s 4K resolution so interesting is the fact that there is a lot of debate as to whether or not it’s even necessary. Sure, in purely technical terms of pixel count, 4K will increase the existing resolution of the iPad screen two-fold and will even feature more pixels than what is normally found in major brand name 4K TVs with far larger screens –normally 3,840 x 2,160 pixels—but the interesting question is whether or not this even matters.

Apple is trying to catch up with certain other competing tablet manufacturers and from this standpoint, giving their famous tablet a 4K screen makes plenty of sense but whether or not it’s even worth doing is being debated. Why? Because, raw pixel count increases aside, there is a certain law of diminishing returns as far as the human eyes ability to perceive the difference is concerned.

While 4K looks absolutely fantastic on large display monitors, 4K TVs and blown up images or video shot with their camera counterparts, tiny screens don’t create a visually noticeable difference according to many experts.

While “smaller” screen sizes between 32” and 55” inches do indeed create visually noticeable differences when showing UHD resolutions, the viewing distance needed to notice it steadily shrinks towards the lower end of that size scale. The relatively tiny screen of the iPad or any tablet reduces this distance to what is effectively zero.

Retina, Apple’s existing UHD display technology was great because it had reached the comfortable level of giving an apparently pixel free resolution at conventional viewing distances, but since 4K goes well beyond retina level pixel counts, the added technological investment might be wasted. This problem is actually magnified with the iPad Air, given it’s smaller than conventional screen size.

Even if Apple unrolls a larger 12.9 inch iPad Air later this year, the screen size will still be so small that 4K and the less resolved Retina will look indistinguishable to anybody using the device under normal conditions and at optimal viewing distance.

However, there is one key factor that’s surely prompting Apple’s move into 4K UHD on its iPad: in the consumer electronics business, perception and advertised specs often have more selling power than certain practical details, and the simple possibility that Apple’s tablet screens have less resolution than their competitor’s products could sway a lot of potential buyers away from Apple even if they’d never be able to see the visual difference when confronted with a Retina powered iPad next to a variant with  4K screen.

Story by 4k.com

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