Gizmodo: Tech’s New Most Meaningless Spec: PPI

source: Gizmodo

Adrian Covert of Gizmodo has an interesting piece looking at the gadget industry’s recent obsession with high PPI displays. With devices like the HTC DNA pushing resolution well past 300 PPI, electronics makers may be turning PPI into the next overhyped marketing stat, just like contrast ratio is for the TV industry and megapixel is for the digital camera.

Adrian gets to the heart of the problem:

There are plenty of ways to make a better-looking display. But we’ve reached the point in the pixel density wars where higher figures have stopped automatically equating to improved performance for users. Any grandstanding about pixel density, from here on out, now is mostly just marketing fluff.

We tend to agree, and color performance is probably the display feature with the most room to improve. The best LCD smartphones on the shelves right now can show you more pixels than your eye can detect, but can only show you about a third of the colors you can see. If electronics makers want impactful feature improvements for new devices, color performance is where it’s at.

3 thoughts on “Gizmodo: Tech’s New Most Meaningless Spec: PPI

  1. Dot Color has been a refreshingly interesting commentary… until now. While I appreciate the view that ppi (spatial resolution) specsmanship may be overdone in certain market segments, I must assert that spatial resolution matters a great deal. It can be more important than color gamut! Gizmodo and other well-meaning gadget blogs often get display-related technology all wrong. Any display professional knows human visual perception depends on resolution, viewing distance, ambient contrast, and other key parameters. A 400 ppi display held/mounted an inch from your eye would look quite grainy!

    • Hi David, and thanks for the feedback.
      Your point about PPI is well taken and I agree that 400+PPI will make a crucial difference for many emerging display applications. Medical imaging and, as you suggest, wearable displays immediately come to mind. That said, I do believe that for common consumer electronic devices like smartphones and tablets we hit an inflection point at 300PPI, after which there are diminishing returns in terms of perceived value for consumers. Higher PPI is coming and it will matter but other display performance metrics like color and dynamic range have a lot of untapped value to offer.

  2. It’s always about marketing push…and winning it… is all about Supply Chain muscle……
    Most mobile branders understand OLED’s strangth and weakness, and the delima of Samsung being only source & 1st competitor probably will last quite sometime. So the reasonable “resolution, not color” marketing by all other brander&LCD maker shouln’t supprise us too mush……

    Moreover, let’s be realistic, even Apple’s newPhone+newpad+newNB+Mac = sRGB only, and reputation skyhigh. Can one be stronger to make bigger color gamut a economical sucess ? That would be interesting to watch……

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