Mac Retina Display Specifications Revealed


13 Feb 2011
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NPD DisplaySearch Senior Analyst Richard Shim is one of the first figures to discuss laptop Retina displays at large. He says manufacturers are beginning to ramp up production, and that the 15-inch and 13-inch versions are already available for Apple’s MacBook Pros. Shim also dishes out actual specifications, to give the media something to chew on until WWDC 2012.

Quoted on the recently-intensified Mac-Retina rumors, Mr. Shim says Apple is the primary candidate to employ super high-resolution 13.3-inch and 15.4-inch panels that are already available from suppliers.

Apple is reportedly pushing for a June 11 unveiling of its upgraded Macintosh family, including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iMac.

Shim specifically says, "We're seeing it at 15.4 [inches]. You can get it [now].”

He explains to Cnet how, “On typical Windows systems, there was a push for higher densities back when Vista was first coming out, but nothing really came of it. On monitors, it's been sort of an OS limitation where if you don't need it, there's obviously no reason to support it, and it adds cost because the yields are harder to maintain.”

Shim says Apple Inc. is the main reason why Retina displays are finally making a foray into the desktop and notebook industries. The third-gen iPad caused it all, as people literally began to see just how much a large Retina display can improve visuals.

"What's clear is that Apple's pushing it. They're pushing panel makers to come out with higher resolution panels because they've created a market demand for it, starting with their phones, now going to their tablets," Shim said. "Now what we're seeing in the supply chain is that they're going to move that to their notebooks, and it's becoming a premium feature."

More importantly, the analyst has some technical specifications to back his claims.

Here’s what it looks like for future owners of a next-generation MacBook Pro with a 13-inch or 15-inch display (courtesy of CNet):

· 15.4-inch: 2,880 by 1,800 resolution. That's 220 pixels per inch (PPI). By comparison, the current 15.4-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,440 by 900 pixel display and a PPI of 110.
· 13.3-inch: 2,560 by 1,600 resolution with a PPI of 227. By comparison, the current 13.3-inch MacBook Air is 1,440 by 900 pixels, and has PPI of 127.

This increase in pixel density comes at a cost, and Shim says Apple will be paying about $160 for the 15-inch panel. The current models only cost Apple $68 per screen.

The 13-inch Retina display will set Apple back $134. The non-Retina version used in the low-end MacBook Pro costs just $69.

"The most likely suspect to use that would be Apple at that panel size and resolution," Shim concluded.

He suggested other computer vendors were likely preparing to use these solutions as well.

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