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NPD: Apple loose with iPad Retina Display definitions

updated 03:10 pm EST, Thu March 8, 2012

Sharp, Samsung, LG seen as suppliers

Apple is operating relatively loosely with how it defines the term "Retina Display" for the new iPad, argues NPD DisplaySearch. The research firm notes, for example, that the iPad's 264ppi pixel density is substantially less than the 326ppi on the iPhone 4. "But since 'retina display' is a marketing term with no specific definition, Apple is able to use it how it wants," NPD writes.

The group also suggests that while Apple refers to the display as using an IPS panel, some suppliers may be using FFS (fringe field switching) instead. "So, perhaps 'retina display' really means 'high performance display,'" it argues. As for the identity of suppliers, research is said to point to Sharp, Samsung, and LG Display. Sharp has allegedly been experimenting with IGZO panels, but may not have satisfied yield or quality expectations from itself or Apple. At least Samsung and LG are believed to be using a-Si TFT technology, and it's speculated that Sharp may have switched to it too while it works on IGZO problems. In any case, 264ppi may be the upper limit of a-Si TFT.

NPD's research further indicates that that the new iPad has "at least" twice as many LEDs as the iPad 2, which has 36. This likely implies higher power consumption, and may explain the tablet's larger, heavier shell if it has a bigger battery. It may also be necessary though because of the doubled pixel density, demanding a stronger backlight.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    NOT just marketing

    Yes, it's a somewhat fuzzy marketing term. But it is NOT just random, and by the perfectly reasonable definition, this display qualifies.

    Retina does not equal >300ppi.

    Retina means (and this was even said, indirectly, by Cook during the intro) that at regular viewing distances you can't discern individual pixels.

    You hold a smartphone about a foot from your eyes, so ~300ppi is required to qualify.

    You (or at least most people I've watched) hold an iPad about a foot and a half from their face--down around lap level while sitting. Apple said 15", which is reasonable--I'd have said a little more. At that distance, the iPad's "Retina" display qualifies legitimately.

    A TV eight feet from your couch doesn't need to be even remotely close to 300dpi to qualify--1080p is more than enough at that distance unless the TV is immense.

    So it's not pure marketing--it means something, and it's a legitimate definition. In fact, according to somebody who worked out the math, the new iPad has a higher "retina-ness" than even the iPhone 4 by a wide margin:

  1. facebook_Victor

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2012



    I mean, really, is this a joke? or NPD is just another fandroid?
    The presentation clearly states why they are calling it “retina display” and they even present the formula to calculate that.
    So even NPD does not understand math or they just don’t understand English.
    It is really shameful to read a so called “company” post articles like this one. It huts my eyes just to read it lol

  1. macnnoel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    aw snap!

    Perhaps the title should have been NPD needs to be thorough on their research before posting junk--

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just do the math!

    Apple actually went through the definition of Retina Display for the audience during the keynote. Where does NPD get their information?

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Go into Microsoft Store

    And you will see those 46" LCDs on the wall. Are they HD? Not if you look at it from 20" away as the way you would with an iPad. How many PPI is it? 1920 x 1080 displayed on the 46":

    It's 40" across
    1920 ÷ 40 = 48 PPI.

    A lot of people don't understand that absolute pixel density is not 'resolution'.

    This is like rookie graphic designer who is doing a wall-sized inkjet banner print the size of 20 stories and demanding 300 PPI.

  1. Eriamjh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    NPD is stupid

    Retina means one cannot discern the pixels from a given viewing distance. iPads are not held so close to ones face.

  1. kimgh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's Apple's term...

    It's Apple's marketing term, I think they get to define it how they wish. How Apple can be "loose" with it's own marketing term escapes me.

  1. whab

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why Apple is correct...

    Why Apple is correct on using the "Retina Display" marketing term:

    for the iPad:
    for the iPhone:

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