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The world of LCD panels baffles me. For some reason Apple can sell an iPad with a 2048x1536 IPS screen for $500 but your average $1,000 laptop comes with a crappy 1366x768 TFT screen or maybe 1920x1080 if you're lucky.



Apple can commit to shipping millions of iPads and makes procurement decisions based on that fact. You're talking about the company that buys a significant proportion of the world's NAND flash production preordered a year ahead of time. iPad has enough economy of scale that as soon as Apple found a display manufacturer able and willing to manufacture the screen they wanted, they immediately promised a large enough preorder to make it cost-effective. Remember, Apple ships more iPads than any PC manufacturer ships total units, and all those iPads use the same parts.

So in case you were wondering why Apple keeps obscene piles of cash around, that's why.


Apple has effectively paid for some of its suppliers factories to ensure parts availability. Good position to be in. http://www.asymco.com/2011/01/23/the-bank-of-apple-using-cap...


If it's true that apple preorders one year in advance, it really gives them a big advantage in terms of procurement. And here I'm talking about better prices, prefered customer status and guaranteed material availability. Add to that the huge quantities, and you get a really nice position for Apple. What really impresses me, beyond the near-perfect marketing they have, is the way they clearly are managing their supply chain, down to the very end-costumer. For, Apple may easily become the SCM benchmark Toyota used to be a decade ago.


Not anymore, they seem to be selling the new iPads and the old iPads, which will mean two display sizes. Still, your point holds.

The other issue is that Apple has enough money to invest in factories, not that it owns them, but it can put money up front to encourage building them. I would not be surprised if they had a 1 year hold on screens of this size, just as they did for the iphone 4 (although even today noone is using the same screens as the 4).


Yet, Im really interessted how Apple actually deals with its suppliers. My guess is that they are not really, well how should I put it, nice? to deal with. Judging from their enourmous growth AND their steady growing profits, Apple prouved an impressive upward flexibility. To manage that you have to be a pain the ass for your suppliers, yet you have to fair. Pretty cool how they walk that razors edge. Guess Apple dominace is a major for the competition in more than one way.


I think the biggest issue is simply thet desktop operating systems doesn't have good resolution independence. So for most people, a laptop display with more than 1920x1080 will make icons and buttons very small by default. And of course, most people (and businesses) don't care either way and don't want to pay for the price difference.


True. Not even the ones made by Apple. Even after 10 years of shrinking desktop feature sizes. Clearly there is much more money to be made in tablets and mobile than laptops...


> True. Not even the ones made by Apple.

Apple is probably the worst offender on that issue, in fact.


Huh? Apple offers 1366x768 in 11", 1440x900 in 13", and 1680x1050 in 15". The only comparable-and-better that I know of is the 1600x900 HP something-or-other.

They aren't standouts (although the 15" at 1680x1050 is really nice), but they're no worse than anybody else.

EDIT: I misread the original post. Sorry about that. That said, OS X isn't appreciably worse as far as resolution independence than the rest of your options. (Not that that's praise for OS X, but neither GNOME nor Windows are particularly good either.)


He's not talking about resolutions provided (and my Vaio has a 1920x1080 15" display if you're looking for examples there) he's talking about support for different DPIs.

Windows 7/8 "kinda" work in this regard - I have to use accessibility addons in firefox to make it play nice, IE just stretches everything, I have no experience with OSX.


Really? The 'different DPI' settings have been in since Vista, and worked pretty pervasively.


The main problem is third-party apps that don't respect the settings. It's not a huge problem. I've noticed some of the UI elements in windows get distorted sometimes too.


Changing DPI settings still screws up various applications on Windows 7 (fonts on various UI elements don't scale consistently, e.g. Visual Studio 2010 is messed up, games are usually completely broken even modern ones like Starcraft II, etc.) and overall make the system very frustrating to use (especially annoying since I have a pair of IBM T221s capable of 3840x2400). That being said it's still worthwhile when I'm in e.g. Lightroom.


HP offered a 1920x1200 display in some of their 15" laptops. And Apple lagged behind in screen resolution for years (when I bought my Mac, 1440x900 was the highest res 15" display they sold).


Fair enough. I think saying OS X is "the worst offender" about resolution independence is at best hyperbolic, though. They're not good, but neither is anyone else.


It's mindblowing. When my last laptop broke, I had to turn to eBay to get a PC laptop with a decent screen... HP briefly sold a 1600x900 14" screen in the Envy line then discontinued it, so I found a used one and paid a premium for it. Everything in every retail store was 1366x768, washed out and dim.


Using Apple's definition of a retina display, the MacBook Pros are already very close: http://www.tuaw.com/2012/03/01/retina-display-macs-ipads-and...

You hold your laptop significantly farther from your face than an iPad, thus a lower PPI is sufficient. However, a 9.7" display with the iPad's PPI is getting close to acceptable sizes for small laptops, like the 13" MacBook Pros.


But the other thing is quality. Viewing angles and color gamut tends to be horrible on laptops. Not so on the iPad.


There was a single plant which made big laptop IPS panels (15-17") which got shut down; they were used in IBM FlexView on the Lenovos up to the T60p (2006). IPS is still rare between iPad size and small high-end monitor size (20").

I'm still sad that even the MBP 17 comes with a 6-bit PVA panel. It's a nice panel, but dramatically inferior to an 8 or 10 bit IPS.


The MBP comes with TN, not PVA. PVA is actually a fairly good technology. S-PVA has the darkest blacks of all panels, but is really really slow. You can see the ghosting when the camera pans in a movie.


Ah. From what I've read now, only some models of the Lenovo X200t ever shipped with PVA in a laptop (some were IPS, some were PVA). I guess different qualities of TN make a difference.

It all makes the IPS panels in the iPads even more impressive. From what I've read the IPS panel yield goes down with DPI, too, so the panel in the iPad (Early 2012) is amazing.


My ThinkPad has the same resolution as the new iPad -- 2048x1536. I'm thinking of upgrading it to an iPad if it ever runs Linux...


Screen area costs money. Also, economy of scale; the iPad outsells any laptop model by a wide margin.


Exactly, Apple sells around 2mil+ Macs/Qtr most of which are laptops however they sell 15+mil iPads. It's easier to get volume deals on 15 million displays then it is 1-2mil.


Actually, I would think it would be the inverse. 1 million of anything is a volume order. 15 million of something means that the supplier has to build a new factory.


The cost is mostly in the tooling. So, if you are doing 1 million units and running your tooling 6000 hours per year, then if the cycle time is less than 20 seconds for any operation, then you are not fully using that piece of equipment. If you are doing 15M units a year, you will need to design/build/buy 10-100 units for each manufacturing step. That cuts your cost tremendously, because the custom design and engineering only needs to be done once.


Apple has been known to build the factories for the suppliers or at least contributing to the cost to secure the products coming out of said factory. I remember them building a factory with Samsung (ironic) and Foxxconn.


Apple could release a 9.7" Air and use the same IPS screen as the iPad. (Even better would be a 13" Air/13" iPad with the same screen. I'd buy both.)


I believe folks have already seen evidence in OSX that Apple will be doing "retina" displays for laptops and desktops. Continued movement towards a resolution-independent OS.


Actually, I see this as the abandonment of resolution independence. Apple has always been about pixel-perfect graphics, and that's quite hard to do with vector assets. Fonts have to have all sorts of hinting to get single-pixel risers and joins to look decent. That's one of the reasons that fonts are so costly – now imagine that all your graphics require that level of care. Making pixel-perfect "@2x" graphics is much easier.

Then again, maybe those hints are only necessary because of the limitations of low resolution displays. If each pixel is barely large enough to be discerned by the naked eye, single-pixel accuracy may not matter so much. Clearly resolution independence is still desirable for accessibility reasons, even at the end of the pixel density road.


Actually, I see this as the abandonment of resolution independence.

I was thinking the same thing. It's amusing to think that Apple found resolution independence harder than waiting for/making panels quadruple in size. Certainly good for marketing though :)


Even if you want to move towards resolution independence, when you have a huge universe of apps at a particular resolution, simply doubling the screen size is the easiest way to let them migrate with minimal pain. It's a lot easier to tell them that the _minimum_ thing they have to do is double their measurements than force them to jump entirely over to a non-pixel-based regime. At the same time you can start introducing resolution-independent UX for new apps.


On mobile devices, it may still be prohibitive to continually convert from vector art to pixels. I guess they could do it at build time.


The 4:3 aspect ratio is the big thing. Impossible to buy a laptop with that spec any more. A new ThinkPad X series with the iPad's display would be amazing.


With the Retina display, using the new iPad as a second display for the Mac (using the Air Display app) becomes more interesting.


I think the change is due to cheap and plentiful on-board graphics that limits the screen resolution but provides a longer battery life. Since most users don't need a powerful gaming laptop, manufacturers use the cheap, efficient, but limited on-board graphics processors.


I would think that this is largely due to the fact that Apple uses its massive cash reserves to effectively lock-in parts exclusively for their products.

Its not like that part is a COTS part that is available to all OEMs.


I thought the same thing. It was one of the reasons I didn't think they'd be able to do a retina iPad, it would just be too expensive.

Look at the prices of your average 47" LCD HDTV sets, way over $500. And they're probably making less money per unit than the iPad. I don't know how Apple is doing it.


Someone should sell a conversion kit to make it a monitor. I'd drop $100 for that.




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