I’m not a fan of Apple and, aside from an old generation 3 iPod which I got free anyway, I’ve never owned an Apple product. I’ve certainly never bought one! Still, you have to hand it to them, there are some things they do which are loads better than any of their competitors out there. Specifically with screens.
With the new iPad, they have managed to fit a 2048×1536 screen onto something under 10 inches, run it off a single combines CPU and graphics chip and still manage a battery life of up to 10 hours
It certainly impresses me, especially with the pricing point they have it at, and still turning a profit.
In equal measure, however, it annoys me. It annoys me a lot. Not Apple, but pretty much every other manufacturer out there, and here is why:
For the last few weeks I’ve been looking online at laptops. Not because I want one, not because I am loking to buy one, but because ASUS impressed me when I saw their Zenbook UX31. It is priced at around the £1000 mark and has fairly decent specs within the “ultrabook” market, but the screen resolution is only 1600×900. They could easily pack a full HD (1920 x 1080) screen in there and it probably wouldn’t cost them too much to do so. Still, that screen resolution is unusual in the laptop market where most manufacturers are touting their machines with tiny 1366×786 screens, including Asus with their Zenbook UX21.
Sure most people will only use them for facebook, emails and general web browsing, but those of us who are quite tech savvy, work in the IT industry and use multiple screens at once 90+% of the time are not going to know what to do with a resolution that low.
If I was to get a laptop, I would go for something which is lightweight and has good battery life, putting me right in the market for an Ultrabook or similar. I’m of the thinking that when it comes to a laptop, smaller is better. Anything which needs serious power (gaming, video rendering, animation) should be done on a PC or in a server farm, depending on the activity.
I know Dell have an ultrabook (XPS13) which looks really nice in aluminium and carbon fibre, but that has the stupidly low resolution screen too. Fortunately they do the XPS Z range, with both 14 and 15 inch laptops. Anything over 15″ for a laptop for me means you really need a PC!
The XPS 14z only lets you have the option of that annoying 1366×786 screen. The XPS 15z does come with a true HD (1920×1080) screen. You have to push the boundaries of portability to get a high resolution with Dell, and a lot of ofther manufacturers require you to go to a desktop replacement laptop before you will get into a sensible resolution screen.
If I was told 10 years ago that in 2012 laptops would commonly ship with a screen resolution so low, I would have laughed. I would have laughed even more so if I was told that mobile phones would ship with screen resolutions very close to that of common laptops.
It clearly has everything to do with marketing, where the sales guys can tell people that their laptop screens are HD, but they mean it’s only 720p. Still, if they can stick “HD” on the box, they are happy and to hell with the customers!
If Apple can get a higher than HD resolution into something just under 10 inches, and Samsung can make a phone with a screen resolution to rival most laptops, then the laptop industry is doing something wrong.
I’m not saying that laptops need to come with screen resolutons the same as the iPad (which isn’t too far off bettering the 27″ iMac), but they should at least come with a true HD screen so the whole machine is usable by everyone, not just the casual web browser!