Linus Torvalds is right about “reasonable resolution”

Last Updated on November 30, 2018 by Dave Farquhar

Linus Torvalds is sick of the gimmicks, and he’s really sick of laptops sporting cheap 720p displays. He wants high-resolution (2560×1600, or even 2048×1536) displays to become standard.

Having seen an Ipad with a 2048×1536 display in person recently, I agree.

The big thing that’s held back PC displays is backwards compatibility. You can buy higher-resolution displays and instruct Windows to use bigger fonts, but there’s some software that just ignores your wishes and acts like you’re running a 1024×768 screen. So people are reluctant to buy a display that goes much beyond that, because there’s so much software that will just display itself in a tiny window and refuse to be usable.

It could be that tablets will finally force the issue.

When I view my local newspaper’s web page on an Ipad with a Retina display, it looks very close to a real newspaper. Maybe better, since newsprint is about the lowest-quality paper you can get. The device renders near laser-quality text, and scales the pictures to fit so the page still displays like it would in any other browser, only with sharper text. It’s clever.

And the difference between that and a 1366×768 display is similar to the difference between something printed on a dot matrix printer and something printed on a laser. You really do notice it, especially when you’re reading for a long time.

Monitors with television-resolution panels (720p or 1080p) are really cheap, because there’s a severe oversupply of those panels. You can get a 2560×1600 monitor, but you’ll pay dearly for it. And they tend to be 27 or 30 inches, which is much too big. When they get that big, you get more pixels, but you don’t get much more density.

It seems to me that if a PC maker wants to distinguish itself, releasing high-resolution displays, both in laptops and reasonably sized desktop monitors, would be a good start. If I could get a 20″ high-resolution display, I would get one, and get a cheap conventional monitor, then run stubborn old applications on that display, and run progressive applications that pay attention to the operating system’s display settings on the nice one.

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