How Many Pixels Are Enough?

I attended the 2013 SID Display Week Symposium and Exhibit (Vancouver, Canada, May 20-24, 2013) and while writing up some of my findings for Insight Media’s Display Daily and Mobile Display Report, I found myself reflecting on questions of pixels.  For example, given the trend to displays with very high pixel densities in products like the Apple’s current generation “Retina Display” family of products, many of us ask “how many pixels per inch (ppi) is enough?”  These Apple products offer excellent liquid crystal displays (LCDs) with high pixel counts and densities – iPhone 5 (4 inch, 1136×640 pixel, with 326 ppi), iPad tablet PC (9.7 inch, 2048×1536 pixel with 264 ppi), MacBook Pro (13 inch 2560×1600 pixel  with 227 ppi) and (15 inch 2880×1800 pixel with 220 ppi).

As Apple has made “ppi” a notable product feature and marketing tool, we see competitors in the marketplace responding to the competitive challenge.  For example, at Computex ( Taipei, Taiwan, June 4-8, 2013) Fujitsu introduced their Lifebook UH90 notebook PC with 14-inch diagonal 3200×1800 pixel indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) TFT display (see photo below).  Also at Computex, Japanese display manufacturer Sharp exhibited both 14 inch and 15.6 inch IGZO displays with 3200×1800 pixel counts.  The Sharp 14 inch and 15.6 inch displays feature pixel densities of 262 and 235 pixels per inch (ppi), respectively.



These leading edge mobile device displays are making our 60 inch HDTVs with just 1920×1080 pixels looking pretty “low res” by comparison.  However, so-called 4K and UHD (UltraHD) TVs with 3840×2160 pixels (that’s 8.3 megapixels overall) are now appearing at retail.  These 4K TVs promise better pictures if a few details can be overcome – notably content availability, bandwidth limitations, standards, and more.

In response to my Display Daily article, I received an email comment from a colleague Bob Rushby (, a display professional.  Bob referred to a talk he presented at the Thought Leadership Summit – Video Walls Unplugged meeting held May 16, 2013 in London, UK.  His talk was entitled MegaPixels are Boring, Let’s talk about GigaPixels.  Bob Rushby’s presentation on very high information content interactive displays was a wonderfully clear description of the topic and provided an accurate yet very approachable description of the case for such large, high resolution displays.  Rather than describing or summarizing his talk, I have included the talk video below.  While the video is nearly 20 min. long, it is well worth viewing and listening to Bob’s insightful views concerning the deployment of very large, in fact gigapixel, interactive displays.

While some of us think of Retina and 4K displays being the current leading edge and the future of displays, some of us like Bob Rushby are looking ahead to a near future vision of practical gigapixel displays.


About Phillip Wright