Apple's iPad 3, Part 1: The Complete Retina Display And A5X Review

When It Comes To Subpixels, Smaller Is Better

Understanding the nature of a display's potential requires an inspection of the size, shape, and arrangement of individual subpixels. This lets you identify the type of LCD panel and calculate the smallest detail it's capable of rendering. If you're already familiar with our tablet and smartphone coverage, then you know we apply this level of analysis to every mobile device that passes through our lab.

Focusing closer with our lab microscope, we learn two important pieces of information.

First, Apple retains the familiar S-IPS technology on its new Retina display. We know this because the subpixel shape reveals a Samsung IPS design, which makes sense considering the previous iPad displays were also manufactured by Samsung. In short, you'll enjoy the same wide viewing angles on the iPad 3 as its predecessor.

Second, the relatively small size of each subpixel implies a significantly improved colour palette. Since every pixel contains three subpixels (red, green, and blue), more pixels allows you to create a wider variety of colours. For example, a bluish-green can be created by turning on the blue and green subpixels, while turning off the red subpixels. The relative bluish tint is achieved by having a brighter blue LED and slightly dimming green. You can only so far, though, because pixels have a fixed range of brightness.

On the iPad 3, specifically, each subpixel measures approximately 30x65 microns. So, you can fit approximately four iPad 3 pixels into the space of a single iPad 2 pixel. Thus, a truer bluish-green hue is possible by turning on four blue subpixels and two green subpixels.

Apple iPad 3: Retina Display, Explained

The problem with small pixels is that electrical leakage requires spacing to prevent colour blending. Apple overcomes this challenge by cleverly elevating the subpixels off the base LCD circuitry. Though, even with our laboratory-grade microscope tilted at a 30o angle, combined with strong lighting, the gap is still difficult to see. The video above summarizes the technology's details.

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  • theconsolegamer
    Gaming in a 2500x1440 panel @ 1280x720 resolution..... Genius!

    Watching movies in a 2500x1440 panel @ 1920x1080..... Revolutionary!

    Bragging about a 2500x1440 panel that won't be really used..... Priceless!
  • mi1ez
    Got to have the hardware before the software makers will design for it. Also, hopefully this will push Android and W8 tablets to push up their resolutions. Maybe even desktop monitors!
  • testerguy
    theconsolegamerHaving the choice to game in a 2048x1536 panel @ 1024x768 resolution..... with 4x the FPS of the fastest equivalent Android tablet. Genius! As well as having the ability to game at the highest resolution on any tablet ever created.

    Watching movies in a 2048x1536 panel @ 1920x1080..... necessary if you want to have the appropriate format for portrait use which is the majority of the time. !

    Bragging about a 2048x1536 panel that won't be really used..... except for everything including web browsing, photo editing, emails, recording videos, gaming, and every single app which comes out which is designed specifically for that resolution, Priceless!
  • techpops
    Brilliant article. Finally I get some real details. After spending so much on a PC upgrade recently, I'm not in a position to spend on an ipad3 but eventually I'll get around to it if there isn't a suitable alternative by then with equally high resolution.

    What I'd like to know, not having owned an ios device before is how satisfying is it to use an ipad3 as a device for managing and reading all your comics, technical manuals, magazines and books in a variety of different formats. All my magazine are in PDF format but books are mostly mobi, comics in a variety of formats. How well does ipad support all these formats?

    Really for many years now I've wanted a tablet like device that would allow me to read my huge collections of comics and PDF's in a resolution high enough to do them justice. This is the first device that seems to fit that dream spec at least in terms of hardware but just how much fun is it living in the Apple universe managing all your content? Under Windows I have such a great time accessing anything with the written word in it . With Directory Opus I've been able to create libraries of my stuff that's instantly searchable, looks beautiful with huge thumbnails of everything and is all arranged in sensible hierarchies of folders so I can jump straight to main categories of stuff I want. How does ipad compare here and if it's lacking with file management, is that something that can get better once you jail break the device?

    Finally I'm really curious how well ipad handles accessing data beyond the memory of what's built into the ipad itself. My comics collection is 50gb alone so it's not like I'd be able to copy everything onto the ipad locally. Can it deal with stuff on a network? I'd be buying into the cheaper lower memory ipad as the premium on the higher memory models seems absurd. I'd much rather use cheap memory cards and usb sticks for storage.