Pretty much ever since the iPhone 4 with retina display was launched, resolutions have played a major role in smartphone market. In September, Samsung unveiled Galaxy S II HD LTE, which sports a 4.65" 1280x720 display. That was the first smartphone with HD resolution (720p). Now there are already a few phones with HD resolution, for example Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Optimus LTE. Higher resolutions are not only courtesy of smartphones as "retina" displays are coming to tablets as well. On May, Samsung showed off a 10.1" panel with resolution of 2560x1600 - resolution that's only seen in high-end 30" monitors.

Toshiba is taking the resolution battle one step further by releasing a 6.1" LCD with 2560x1600 resolution.   In terms of pixels per inch (PPI), that is 495. Below is a table comparing displays and their PPIs.

Comparison of display PPIs
  Screen Size Resolution PPI
iPhone 4/4S 3.5" 960x640 329.65
Samsung Nexus 4.65" 1280x720 315.83
Samsung's Unreleased Tablet Panel 10.1" 2560x1600 298.9
Toshiba's New Panel 6.1" 2560x1600 494.9

As you can see, Toshiba's new panel is a clear winner, and its PPI is 50% greater than iPhone 4/4S's, which has the second highest PPI. There is no word on the panel type but the viewing angles are 176 degrees, which hints toward IPS. Toshiba also claims 1000:1 contrast ratio and 61% NTSC color gamut. 

The image above summarizes the advantage of high PPI. ~500PPI is starting to be close to the limits of human eye because even at very close range (like in the image), seeing the individual pixels is nearly impossible. At normal viewing distance, it would be impossible to see individual pixels.

However, the big question is, what is the use for 6.1" display? 4.5" is more or less the maximum for smartphone (although there are a few bigger ones, such as Samsung Galaxy Note). Bigger than that won't fit in most people's hands or pocket comfortably. Tablets, on the other hand, usually begin at 7". 6.1" is in the middle - it's too big for a smartphone and too small for a regular tablet.

It's possible that this is just for trying out what today's technology can produce and we may never see the display in a consumer product. If it's aimed for a certain product, then the only product that makes sense would be a small tablet, unless Toshiba or any of its partners have something special in mind. 

Source: Toshiba Mobile Display

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  • DanNeely - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Those DPIs look to cover tablet, laptop, and quality desktop displays; but I'm surprised they didn't add 72DPI for the 22" 1366x768 type monitors bundled with cheap desktops.
  • retnuh - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    I should have been clearer. Higher res assets plus scaling, or a bit of compositing, will give the effect of independence and display correctly across various resolutions without having to go pure vector. Plus you don't loose the hardware acceleration.

    The main point being design the drawing to realize that a 1/4" may be a different number of pixels and account for it. And yes it is a LOT easier to just go 2x.
  • B3an - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    For better image quality and sharper images that rival print. Just because the res is higher dont mean things on screen have to be smaller. Derp.
  • elian123 - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    I didn't mean that it will become too small (indeed resolution independence). What I did mean, is that in my opinion there is a limit to what is useful with normal usage. Pictures such as in the article above could still be made if the resolutions even were 10 (or more) times higher (just zoom in more), but what's the relevance.
  • retrospooty - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    "Why do we need such resolutions? For looking at tablets/phones with a magnifying glass? "

    We really don't on a 6 inch screen, way overkill, but if this trend brings us higher resolutions on laptop and desktop LCD's, then its a good thing. I would love to see 2560x1600 on a 15-17 inch laptop, or even a 20-24 inch desktop LCD.

    Hell, if it could at least usher in an era where the starting point for laptops is at least ONE step up from the current 1366X768, its a good thing.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    Not sure how they'll drive a 2560x1600 panel with smartphone caliber graphics. I have a 30" LCD that requires dual-link DVI just to run, and just a single framebuffer for such a resolution is 16MB. It's why most GPUs that support dual-link DVI have at least 1GB RAM, which is what many tablets/smartphones have for the whole system.

    I suppose they could just have the smartphone/tablet SoC send a 1280x800 signal or whatever to the panel, and the panel could have internal scaling circuitry, but certainly I wouldn't want to try using Windows on a 500 dpi display.
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    Even Intel's IGPs support 2560x1600 (and even multiple displays!) so it's not like you need a high-end GPU to run 2560x1600. That resolution has existed for years anyway. I wonder how games would run at native resolution though, given that even today's high-end GPUs have troubles with 1600p.
  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    The issue is that SoC devices don't have the memory bandwidth. A 16MB frame buffer needs to be read (never mind written to) 60 times a second. That's just shy of 1GB/sec of memory bandwidth right there. In reality the frame buffer is going to be compressed, but it's not a fixed compression ratio so there will be times where the memory bandwidth requirements are quite high.
  • Ben90 - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    I wish laptops went back to 4:3 screens. The form factors is just so much easier to use. A 15" 4:3 laptop is so much more portable and easier to handle than a 15" 16:9.
  • PfHR - Friday, November 4, 2011 - link

    Why, you ask? How large is the space on your physical desk? Would you like to work on a desk that was 18inches wide and could only hold your phone and a small note book at one time?

    People for Higher Resolution, unite!

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