06/23/2010

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Apple Retina Display - Analysis from a retinal neuroscientist By now it seems that most people on the planet have heard of Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 4 which was released today. One of the many compelling features of the new phone is the Retina Display. When Steve Jobs first invoked this term at the WWDC, my eyebrows were raised. Being a retinal scientist, I was immediately skeptical of just what he meant by “retinal display”. My mind immediately raced and I wondered if it might have been some of the interesting technology I got to see on my last visit to one of Apple’s technology development labs. I will not say anything about that visit, but this Retina Display, a super high resolution display was new technology that I had not seen before. Essentially it is an LED backlit LCD display with a *326* pixel per inch (960×640) display (John Gruber of Daring Fireball called this resolution display back in March) where each pixel measures a scant 78μm. Though as you can see from these images of the displays I captured under a microscope, these pixels are not square. Rather they are rectangular and while the short axis is 78μm, the long axis on the iPhone 4 pixel is somewhere in the neighborhood of 102μm. I am including images below of the iPhone 1G, the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 4G and the iPad to show some perspective on pixel sizes. The scale bar and my measurements are approximate as I was having a tough time in the lab tonight finding an appropriate calibration. Nevertheless, this should serve as a useful metric for examining the relative pixel sizes and for making the point of whether Apple’s Retina Display is marketing speak and hyperbole or if in fact, Apple’s claims have merit. via prometheus.med.utah.edu This article is a short but sweet analysis of the iPhone / iPad displays and whether the iPhone 4 holds up to the bold claim that it's screen surpasses the resolution of the human retina. The short answer is that yes, it does, which is a marvelous accomplishment. Read the article if you want the longer answer, it's a great read.

Alex Bain

Some blend of software engineering, photography, and cognitive science.

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