Looking Forward to WUXGA and QXGA Tablets

In a similar vein to the 4K displays, it looks like many tablets are getting a serious resolution bump in the next few months. When I complain regularly about the state of laptop displays (I can count the number of good laptop LCDs we saw in the last year on one hand), it gives me hope to see tablets pushing for higher quality, higher resolution panels. Amazingly enough, ASUS has announced that the Eee Prime Transformer will receive a 1920x1200 update in Q2 this year (and for the record, they’re not the only ones planning on using such a panel). Rumors suggest that the iPad 3 will go one step further and offer a QXGA (2048x1536) panel, sticking with the 4:3 aspect ratio of previous iPads—though of course Apple hasn’t officially announced anything yet—and there's even talk of some QSXGA (2560x2048) and/or QWXGA (2560x1600) tablets shipping later this year.

I had the chance to play with the upcoming Eee Prime Transformer TF700T, and I loved the increased resolution. Surprisingly, the Tegra 3 chipset appeared able to handle WUXGA quite well, though I didn’t get a chance to test any games. Gaming at WUXGA is going to really stress current SoC GPUs, however, at least if you want decent quality settings. Many desktop users—even those with high-end cards like the GTX 570/HD 6970—run at 1920x1200, albeit with significantly higher quality textures and geometry than seen in tablet games. Even so, pushing ~2MP on a tablet at decent frame rates will very likely need more memory bandwidth and faster GPUs; I expect many games will run at a lower resolution and simply scale the image to the screen size. Outside of gaming, however, higher resolutions can be very useful. Browsing the web at 1280x720 is doable, 720x1280 not so much; 1080x1920 on the other hand is wide enough for all the 1024-width websites that you won’t have to zoom out to see it. Plus, text and images in general will be improved.

What really irks me is that all of this comes in a 10.1” IPS package, exactly what I’ve been asking for in laptops for the past several years. What’s more, the price point for these is in the <$600 range, and we’re still getting 16:10 aspect ratio panels instead of being forced into 16:9. I asked several manufacturers, "How is it we're getting 16:10 aspect ratio tablets with IPS WUXGA displays, and you still can't put anything better than a low quality 1366x768 TN panel into your laptops?" Naturally, they blamed the display manufacturers and consumers for not being willing to buy better quality laptops.

There's certainly some truth to that, but it's also a matter of supply and demand; if ASUS for instance were to order a million ~13.3" 1920x1200 IPS laptop displays, I'm sure they could get prices down to <$1000 for a quality laptop. Naturally, they're worried that the laptops wouldn't sell well enough and they’d get stuck with a bunch of “too expensive” laptops. With all the $500 Best Buy laptops floating around they may be right, but I wish I could convince more people to stop settling for low quality displays in their laptops. That brings me to my final top-three device/tech that impressed me at CES.

I Have Seen the Future, and the Future Is 4K Ultrabooks Everywhere and Wrap Up
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  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    No, it's basically not worth it on phones.

    I have an 800x480 4.3" display, and it looks more than fine to me. I also used an iPhone 4 and 4S with their 960x640 3.5" display. I'd take the 800x480 at 4.3" any day. It doesn't look any better to me at this tiny size, and I'd rather have the larger screen.
  • Finraziel - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    I'm using the Samsung Galaxy Note now (is it released stateside? No idea...) which has a 5.3" screen with 1280x800 display and I never want to go back. This resolution means I can view just about any website without zooming in in landscape and it's big and sharp enough for me to read ebooks in PDF form on (such as programming books). So for me, yes, the increase in resolution is definately worth it :)
  • R3MF - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    " while I’m not sure if all 4K displays will use the same resolution, this particular panel was running at 4096x2160, so it’s even wider than the current 16:9 aspect ratio panels (and closer to cinema resolutions)"

    I can't help feeling they would have done better to just make 4K a straight 2:1 aspect ratio, and kept the resolution at 4096x2048!
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    gah I have been dreaming of a QXGA LCD for my desktop for ages! I'm stuck at 1600*1200 and hating this new widescreen stuff
  • iSayuSay - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Technology is always about patience. If we're just patient enough to wait for them to be mature and more common, you can jump in with a much reasonable $$$.

    Hard lesson learned when I bought launch day PS3 back in 2006. It was friggin $650, I couldn't afford to buy one actually, but I "had to". It was very very expensive to me.
    And just within 13months after that I got the YLOD for the first time in my life! My super expensive launch day PS3 was unrepairable, not under warranty anymore and I was just frustrated.

    I paid Sony $650 just for being lousy beta tester! Now we could buy a $300 PS3 with no YLOD, more energy efficient, better cooling system and chips.

    I said no more!! No more wasting my hard earned money to buy a expensive beta phase technology.
    And I would wait 4K display to be matured enough, have adequate and affordable contents, price range and availability.

    Even now, how many 1080p content was actually available? Does it already widespread like standard DVD? I know many people who owns a LED HDTV but not care enough to notice that they still watch sub 720p content.
  • bhima - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Most poignant point I've read all day: "What really irks me is that all of this comes in a 10.1” IPS package, exactly what I’ve been asking for in laptops for the past several years." AMEN brother. I bought a Sager because it actually offers a good 95% color gamut screen. As a designer, I really have a small window of choice because these manufacturers don't offer a decent monitor yet every tablet seems to push out great displays.

    The 4K TV thing is great, but in terms of gaming there will be a huge technology gap once the 4K monitors are priced reasonably. I just don't think our GPUs will be able to push those kinds of pixels in the next 3 years except for maybe the $500 beast cards or SLI/Crossfire.
  • bhima - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Needs an EDIT button:

    The Lenovo Yoga is ALMOST perfect. If it just had a wacom digitizer in it, it would be worth a lot of money to me and other graphic designers. Hell, it could force even Mac-heads to consider converting to Microsoft.
  • chizow - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Idk, at the rate GPUs progress, next-gen single GPUs tend to perform similarly to last-gen's top-end SLI configs. Its not quite 100%, probably closer to 50% increase over 2 years but its very possible we'll see a single GPU push 4K/2K without much trouble while maintaining high framerates (~60FPS).

    4K/2K is roughly 4x the resolution of 1080p, very close to 2x2 supersampling over the same screen area. We already have mid to high-end configurations pushing 3x1080p with surround configurations from both vendors with relative ease, and even 3D with those same resolutions which is an effective 6x1080p.

    4K/2K wouldn't be too much additional burden, I think even a high-end single card would be able to push that resolution without too much trouble, and today's high-end card is tomorrow's mid-range card.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    I'd just look at our triple-head desktop benchmarks if you want to know roughly how well current GPU setups can handle 4K displays for gaming. Basically, something like HD 7970 CF or GTX 580 SLI will certainly handle it, though you'll want the 2GB/3GB models. Now it's just waiting for the price to come down--on the GPUs as well as the displays.
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    4K support for studios varies a bit based on which studio it is. Sony, for example, has their Colorworks processing facility on their lot and all of their work is done at 4K at a minimum, with some work done at 8K resolution. As 4K displays start to come into play you will likely see a transition to 8K workflows at studios that allow them to sample CGI and other effects down to 4K for release. If you search at Sony's website you can find a list of 4K theater releases and theaters that support them. The majority of digital cinema is still presented at HD format, though Blu-ray releases likely use a slightly different master since the colorspace and gamma target for cinema releases is much different than the Rec 709 target for Blu-ray.

    100 GB for 4K is really pushing the limits of the medium, and not likely to be what would be used. Most Blu-ray titles clock in around the 30-40 GB range for the film, so given 4x the resolution you are looking at 120-160 GB for a film of similar quality. Another current issue with 4K at the home is I believe that HDMI 1.4a is limited to 24p at 4K resolution, so while films can work fine, no TV or Video content will be able to be upscaled outside of the display or projector. I imagine before 4K really catches on we will have another update to HDMI, and a new media format, as downloads are obviously not fast enough for 4K streaming or downloads yet.

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