Every laptop display should be 2560x1600, dreams Linus Torvalds

By on November 1, 2012, 7:30 AM

Linus Torvalds -- famous for Linux and his outspoken candor -- took to Google+ to voice an industry request: give all laptops resolutions of 2560x1600. Apple may have been the first to deliver such high resolutions to consumer laptop displays with its ultra-pricey 13 and 15-inch Retina Macbook Pros, but tablets have proven to be the true battleground for high pixel density displays. This point is well-illustrated by the following xkcd comic.

2560x1600 or WQXGA is the same resolution found on higher-end displays, typically ones that measure 27-inches or larger. For many though, the thought of a 13.3-inch WQXGA screen elicits visions of long nights filled with squinting and inevitable eye strain, but as tablets (and Retina-equipped Macbooks) have shown us, super high resolutions don't have to equal tiny text. And the benefit? High PPI displays are gorgeous -- sufficiently-pixeled images take on an incredibly smooth, almost surreal look while text becomes sharp and clear. Take a look at some higher-end phones, tablets or the Retina Macbook Pro and the difference is stark.

So with even a $399 tablet doing 2560x1600 pixel displays, can we please just make that the new standard laptop resolution? Even at 11"? Please. Stop with the "retina" crap, just call it "reasonable resolution". The fact that laptops stagnated ten years ago (and even regressed, in many cases) at around half that in both directions is just sad.

Source: Linus Torvalds' Google+ page

Torvalds mentions that laptops have "even regressed, in many cases" -- a thought which surely some readers can relate to. While the change from "square" screens with an aspect ratio of roughly 4:3 to modern widescreens (16:9ish) is certainly to blame for the reduction of valuable vertical pixels, the HDTV marketing blitz has truly done nothing but encourage PC display manufacturers to rest on their laurels. Companies appear to be content pushing 720p laptop screens and -- perhaps most disappointingly -- 27-inch 1920x1080 displays seemingly until the Universe slithers into heat death.

The one drawback for high PPI displays has traditionally been price. With more and more devices introducing pixel-dense panels in larger sizes though, those prices are poised to drop though. A senior NPD DisplaySearch analyst estimated that equipping Apple's 15-inch Macbook Pro with a Retina display costs the company about $100 more per unit -- an extra cost I'd gladly cover. How about you?




User Comments: 29

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1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

"A senior NPD DisplaySearch analyst estimated that equipping Apple's 15-inch Macbook Pro with a Retina display costs the company about $100 more per unit -- an extra cost I'd gladly cover. How about you?"

Not necessarily. Linus and many others forget that there are people out there who don't care about resolution. There are a LOT of 50+ yr old grandparents out there who want a laptop for email, internet and skype with the grandkids. Webcams and facebook videos are blurry anyway. (not to mention, older people can't focus without glasses close enough to care )

No matter how cheap a 2560x1600 display gets, a 1280x1920 one will be cheaper. You can't just put a better screen on a laptop, you need faster processor to keep up, more memory bandwidth to prevent stuttering and more battery for all the above.

How many parents will be willing to (or can) spend extra money for their kid's new laptop before they go to college for a better screen? Some yes, but not all.

Diversity of products, Linus. They teach it in marketing 101. It's why the toothpaste isle is so confusing.

1 person liked this | treeski treeski said:

Higher res screens should at least be AVAILABLE on all laptops.

2 people like this | Guest said:

"...with a Retina display costs the company about $100 more per unit -- an extra cost I'd gladly cover. "

I wouldn't. $100 extra is a lot of money. But what's worse, if it costs the company an extra $100, it will cost the consumer an extra $200-$300. Would you still gladly cover that?

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

I for one support Linus in this direction.

To the first poster:

1. Perhaps your Grandma had to put glasses on because when she was young she used a pad with low resolution too much

2. One can always go for cheaper and even lower resolution - try your regular bulb, it has a good 1x1 display: On - you got email, Off - now you don't.

1 person liked this | ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Higher res screens should at least be AVAILABLE on all laptops.

Agreed. It's so ridiculously hard to find a windows laptop with a decent resolution. It's fine that the lower resolutions are still available, but the primary focus should be on higher resolution laptops. I'm glad they are starting to get closer to higher resolutions with the windows 8 laptops (asus and acer have pretty solid looking ones), but there is still a lot of room for improvement!

2 people like this | PC nerd PC nerd said:

I'm perfectly content with my 1920x1080 screen.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Wow, I'm really surprised by the response in the comments. I wonder if some people responding that they are content have never used WQXGA displays. They really are amazing, and I would gladly pay an extra $100 for it. I did many times over when I spent $1400 on a 30" Dell Ultrasharp.

1 person liked this | SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Really high resolution CRTs were available too many years ago. In 1999 or 2000 the CRT for my PC died and I replaced it with a Philips 107P? It was a 17" flat screen CRT that could run 1920x1440. There were a few problems though; 1- was it did that at 60Hz so it flickered terribly, 2 - nothing was made to run that high on that small of a screen, so the text was incredibly tiny, so it was essentially unusable in a desktop/internet/office program environment, 3 - graphics cards were far too weak to game at that resolution, I was powering it with a 32meg Geforce 2 MX. (The great thing about that monitor though was I could run 1280x1024 or 1280x960 at 85Hz and it looked beautiful. It was an awesome monitor)

Eventually that CRT died too, but I had a warranty through Best Buy. Unfortunately, 2 and a half years into its life it wasn't carried by BB anymore and they didn't have anything close to its specs either. I ended up replacing it with what I deemed was the best replacement that I could get in my alloted warranty money, it was a 19" MAG monitor with a curved screen and 1280x1024 max res. Absolutely the worst monitor I've ever owned.

So I was a bit off topic there, but I guess to actually make a point. High resolution on a small screen isn't any good if the OS doesn't have any scaling available so you don't have ultra tiny text. With 'normal' sized text you can still have a really high resolution and gain clarity, so it is worth doing. I don't think Windows or Macs had good ways to deal with really high resolution a few years ago. PC makers and OS makers probably share the blame for the stagnation.

Pan Wah said:

1. Perhaps your Grandma had to put glasses on because when she was young she used a pad with low resolution too much

2. One can always go for cheaper and even lower resolution - try your regular bulb, it has a good 1x1 display: On - you got email, Off - now you don't.

1. Show me a Grandma that had a laptop of ANY resolution when young, and I'll show you the door!

2. Excellent! NOW you're talking.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Yes, for a ~24" stand-alone monitor that would cost me $100 more because it's 2560x1600 in resolution, I would gladly pay.

Shade00a00 Shade00a00 said:

You didn't source the XKCD comic, though.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I've had a Dell 30" ultrasharp or whatever for like 5 years. It's like having multi-monitor and gaming is great because you need much less AA

Guest said:

To get good framerate 16x aa on 2560x1600 must be expensive.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I gamed on 2048x1536 at 85hz in WoW a little over 5 years ago using my Eizo CRT monitor.

It sure was a very nice experience, sadly the monitor died; my replacement was a Eizo S2000 LCD that I use to this day, it's a 4:3 display with 1600x1200 in resolution.

I agree with Torvalds, it's very sad that the market has stagnated.

In many regards we had better monitors 10 years ago than we do now

AfricanTech said:

"A senior NPD DisplaySearch analyst estimated that equipping Apple's 15-inch Macbook Pro with a Retina display costs the company about $100 more per unit -- an extra cost I'd gladly cover. How about you?"

Not necessarily. Linus and many others forget that there are people out there who don't care about resolution. There are a LOT of 50+ yr old grandparents out there who want a laptop for email, internet and skype with the grandkids. Webcams and facebook videos are blurry anyway. (not to mention, older people can't focus without glasses close enough to care )

[snip].

and then they run it at 1024 by 768 -

wiyosaya said:

When I see stories like this, it makes me wonder how people "at the top" can be so out of touch with the people "below" them. Seems the banking industry is not the only industry suffering from this disease.

IAMTHESTIG said:

While I agree the more the pixels, the better... as for the 27" 1080p screens, well, some of us are blind and are fine with the larger pixels. I use a 40" 1080p TV as my computer display, which works well for me. And while I easily run 1080p on a 1600p 27" monitor, I don't like the blurred effect of pixels being stretched across pixels because the display isn't at the native resolution.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I gamed on 2048x1536 at 85hz in WoW a little over 5 years ago using my Eizo CRT monitor.In many regards we had better monitors 10 years ago than we do now

I'm with you. I sure miss those $1500-2000 price tags for a 30kg screen that sucks through the juice at 130+ watts/hour

I agree with Torvalds, it's very sad that the market has stagnated.

Of course, the percentage of people that buy pro grade monitors might be fairly small. I seem to remember that ten years ago, even 1600x1200 was kind of a big deal, and most people contented themselves with 1280x1024...while now, $550 could get you a ~5kg/60watt 2560x1440 @ 135Hz . Of course, now that 4K (UHD) now seems to be gaining traction in the industry, there would seem to be more incentive to cater for screens of a higher resolution ( pro graphics and gaming being such a small demographic generally means the price is proportionate to sales volume).

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

"...with a Retina display costs the company about $100 more per unit -- an extra cost I'd gladly cover. "

I wouldn't. $100 extra is a lot of money. But what's worse, if it costs the company an extra $100, it will cost the consumer an extra $200-$300. Would you still gladly cover that?

I'd be happy to. Sure it wouldn't be necessary for everyone but if you don't upgrade that often and can use the real estate, it'd be worth it. And the more adoption, the more the price will drop in the long run.

waterytowers said:

Please.... give me a 2560x1600 15inch laptop and while you're at it give me 16 cores and 64GB of RAM. It will keep me going until I have a 100MB link to my personal private cloud running on my server at home. I currently run out of RAM and CPUs when I do end-to-end testing on my laptop and I have 8 cores and 16GB of RAM.

The option to have a high-res laptop screen would be great, and at only $100 it is easily affordable, to me at least. I have been wanting one since well before the "Retina Display". The extra screen real estate makes a huge difference for a developer.

Go Linus, do everything you can to make this happen!!

Unfortunately, I think Windows is one of the main reasons we have nothing better than FHD on laptops, as Windows does not scale its display well, and as much as I hate it Windows is the prime driver behind PC/Laptop sales. If most people use Windows and Windows can only handle up to FHD and be readable, why would the manufacturers add more cost to their devices in such a competitive environment, when it will not make sense for 99% percent of its market. Laptops these days are mostly made from cheap plastic where the keyboard flexes badly, so do you really think they would add a $100 cost for a better screen?

Lionvibez said:

Please.... give me a 2560x1600 15inch laptop and while you're at it give me 16 cores and 64GB of RAM. It will keep me going until I have a 100MB link to my personal private cloud running on my server at home. I currently run out of RAM and CPUs when I do end-to-end testing on my laptop and I have 8 cores and 16GB of RAM.

The option to have a high-res laptop screen would be great, and at only $100 it is easily affordable, to me at least. I have been wanting one since well before the "Retina Display". The extra screen real estate makes a huge difference for a developer.

Go Linus, do everything you can to make this happen!!

Unfortunately, I think Windows is one of the main reasons we have nothing better than FHD on laptops, as Windows does not scale its display well, and as much as I hate it Windows is the prime driver behind PC/Laptop sales. If most people use Windows and Windows can only handle up to FHD and be readable, why would the manufacturers add more cost to their devices in such a competitive environment, when it will not make sense for 99% percent of its market. Laptops these days are mostly made from cheap plastic where the keyboard flexes badly, so do you really think they would add a $100 cost for a better screen?

I hope you are willing to pay 3-4k for that 16 core laptop with 64GB's of ram.

And it will probably be closer to 5k since no one makes anything like this now.

I would hate to see what the battery life would be on that thing.

And unless I'm mistaken there are no 8 core cpu's in the consumer market so your machine had a quad with hyperthreading. Not 8 real cores!

Guest said:

ummm...AMD fx black edition? that has 8 cores?

waterytowers said:

1> I hope you are willing to pay 3-4k for that 16 core laptop with 64GB's of ram.

And it will probably be closer to 5k since no one makes anything like this now.

2> I would hate to see what the battery life would be on that thing.

3> And unless I'm mistaken there are no 8 core cpu's in the consumer market so your machine had a quad with hyperthreading. Not 8 real cores!

1> By the time a laptop is released with what I want, the price will come down.

2> Battery life should be around 2-3 hours which is roughly what I currently get, it is a desktop replacement afterall. Current technology allows a quad core in a pad device to last 8 hours or more, so 16 cores should be possible with any luck in the coming years, how long before it appears is anyones guess?

3> I will give you that, I simply call them cores because that is how they show up in my status, as cores.

The big problem I have with my quad core hyperthreaded (see 8 cores is even shorter to type) machine is not running out of memory, but running out of "cores" to assign to virtual machines.

Lionvibez said:

ummm...AMD fx black edition? that has 8 cores?

Not really.

simliar approach to intel but minus about 30% ipc lol

Lionvibez said:

1> By the time a laptop is released with what I want, the price will come down.

2> Battery life should be around 2-3 hours which is roughly what I currently get, it is a desktop replacement afterall. Current technology allows a quad core in a pad device to last 8 hours or more, so 16 cores should be possible with any luck in the coming years, how long before it appears is anyones guess?

3> I will give you that, I simply call them cores because that is how they show up in my status, as cores.

The big problem I have with my quad core hyperthreaded (see 8 cores is even shorter to type) machine is not running out of memory, but running out of "cores" to assign to virtual machines.

It sounds like you need a dual socket Xeon my friend not a laptop!

veLa veLa said:

100% satisfied with 1080p HDTVs. Most HDTV channels use 720p or 1080i as 1080p is too much to stream. While having higher resolution screens isn't something I oppose, can we at least face that we aren't even utilizing the current HD standard? Do we really all have to go buy new screens because some knuckle head suggests 1080p isn't enough?

pmshah said:

Google made his dream come true with newly announced Nexus 10 tablet.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I gamed on 2048x1536 at 85hz in WoW a little over 5 years ago using my Eizo CRT monitor.

I agree with Torvalds, it's very sad that the market has stagnated.

In many regards we had better monitors 10 years ago than we do now

I'm with you. I sure miss those $1500-2000 price tags for a 30kg screen that sucks through the juice at 130+ watts/hour

Well I bought it second hand for maybe $200

The Eizo S2000 LCD cost me around $700 new though

What I meant by that the market has stagnated is that TN panel monitors are churned out like crazy, with really poor resolution to boot.

I think the biggest issue is all the shitty panels being manufactured, not the resolution they use.

pmshah said:

I gamed on 2048x1536 at 85hz in WoW a little over 5 years ago using my Eizo CRT monitor.

It sure was a very nice experience, sadly the monitor died; my replacement was a Eizo S2000 LCD that I use to this day, it's a 4:3 display with 1600x1200 in resolution.

I agree with Torvalds, it's very sad that the market has stagnated.

In many regards we had better monitors 10 years ago than we do now

Quite a few years ago I was a regular visitor to Photokina in Cologne. I remember the days when High resolution monitors from Eizo, Barco and even Nokia ruled the professional market. They were very expensive though.

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