Looking Forward to WUXGA and QXGA Tablets

In a similar vein to the 4K displays, it looks like many tablets are getting a serious resolution bump in the next few months. When I complain regularly about the state of laptop displays (I can count the number of good laptop LCDs we saw in the last year on one hand), it gives me hope to see tablets pushing for higher quality, higher resolution panels. Amazingly enough, ASUS has announced that the Eee Prime Transformer will receive a 1920x1200 update in Q2 this year (and for the record, they’re not the only ones planning on using such a panel). Rumors suggest that the iPad 3 will go one step further and offer a QXGA (2048x1536) panel, sticking with the 4:3 aspect ratio of previous iPads—though of course Apple hasn’t officially announced anything yet—and there's even talk of some QSXGA (2560x2048) and/or QWXGA (2560x1600) tablets shipping later this year.

I had the chance to play with the upcoming Eee Prime Transformer TF700T, and I loved the increased resolution. Surprisingly, the Tegra 3 chipset appeared able to handle WUXGA quite well, though I didn’t get a chance to test any games. Gaming at WUXGA is going to really stress current SoC GPUs, however, at least if you want decent quality settings. Many desktop users—even those with high-end cards like the GTX 570/HD 6970—run at 1920x1200, albeit with significantly higher quality textures and geometry than seen in tablet games. Even so, pushing ~2MP on a tablet at decent frame rates will very likely need more memory bandwidth and faster GPUs; I expect many games will run at a lower resolution and simply scale the image to the screen size. Outside of gaming, however, higher resolutions can be very useful. Browsing the web at 1280x720 is doable, 720x1280 not so much; 1080x1920 on the other hand is wide enough for all the 1024-width websites that you won’t have to zoom out to see it. Plus, text and images in general will be improved.

What really irks me is that all of this comes in a 10.1” IPS package, exactly what I’ve been asking for in laptops for the past several years. What’s more, the price point for these is in the <$600 range, and we’re still getting 16:10 aspect ratio panels instead of being forced into 16:9. I asked several manufacturers, "How is it we're getting 16:10 aspect ratio tablets with IPS WUXGA displays, and you still can't put anything better than a low quality 1366x768 TN panel into your laptops?" Naturally, they blamed the display manufacturers and consumers for not being willing to buy better quality laptops.

There's certainly some truth to that, but it's also a matter of supply and demand; if ASUS for instance were to order a million ~13.3" 1920x1200 IPS laptop displays, I'm sure they could get prices down to <$1000 for a quality laptop. Naturally, they're worried that the laptops wouldn't sell well enough and they’d get stuck with a bunch of “too expensive” laptops. With all the $500 Best Buy laptops floating around they may be right, but I wish I could convince more people to stop settling for low quality displays in their laptops. That brings me to my final top-three device/tech that impressed me at CES.

I Have Seen the Future, and the Future Is 4K Ultrabooks Everywhere and Wrap Up
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  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Because marketing a TV for thousands of dollars now is not going to appeal to the small market of gamers who care :D

    But i'm with you, if the price was right, I would be willing to be a first adopter if i could get a hands on preview of it. Meaning see how it does hooked up to a computer with a few games.

    Computer monitors have been at a standstill for quite a long time. It basically went CRT to LCD and thats pretty much it. In fact i would venture to say its went BACKWARDS for monitors..it used to be anything over 24 inches was 1900x1200. Now you see the market flooded with 22-23 inch 1900x1080 monitors. Or worse 27 inch 1900x1200.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    4K definitely works on PCs -- I don't even care if it requires two connectors. However, I expect the cost to be prohibitively high for a while. I mean, the movie theaters and digital film has already been using 4K for a while, but it's just not consumer grade stuff. But yeah, AMD showed you could definitely play games on a 4K display. All you need is the display and a GPU with the necessary ports, but I think the display part is only available special order for >$15K.
  • chizow - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    I asked in the other thread about 4K/2K, but did AMD actually demo any actual PC games (just saw some in-house castle demo)?

    That was my point though, with PC gaming we don't need to wait for any content since most any game that reads resolution caps from Windows will be able to render natively at 4K/2K and output 4K/2K natively over 1 output, or with some help from the driver if 2 outputs.

    But that makes sense about the price/demand aspect, since no one is going to make $15K displays affordable just for the PC gaming community. I guess our best bet of seeing these displays commoditized in the near future would be the professional graphics space, which is what largely drove the 2560x1600 format and 30" IPS market as well.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, January 21, 2012 - link

    I only saw their rolling demo, but that's not too surprising. I also poked around at the system from the Windows desktop and everything was as you would expect. I thought I saw a shortcut for a game, but I don't have any pictures of the Windows desktop so I can't confirm or deny. Basically, the game would have to support the dual DP outputs running a single display I think, but if a game supports Eyefinity that shouldn't be a problem.
  • Fanfoot - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    Good questions of course.

    One obvious use of 4K displays would be to allow for passive 3D without sacrificing resolution. So while only half the pixels would go to one eye, you'd still have 1080p resolution (with say line doubling on top of it). Assuming anybody cares about 3D of course.

    Another possibility is that displays could do upscaling. So just as we saw EDTVs at the end of the SD life-cycle there could be 4K displays upscaling 1080p content.

    Then of course there's games. An updated XBox or PS4 could conceivably drive a higher resolution display. Not clear this will happen of course, but the potential for this increases as the number of years before these consoles get a refresh.

    Then of course there's movies on disk. Studios want you to buy Blu-Ray movies and not stream stuff over the internet or watch it via your MSO's VOD offering. So a future 4K Blu-Ray standard could push higher resolution as one way of trying to stave off the eventual move to all digital delivery. Sony for example claims to have more than 60 theatrical releases shot in 4K, and there have been a number of high profile pushes for 4K (James Cameron for example is shooting Avatar 2 in 4K). Sony has promised to work with the Blu-Ray disk assocation to define a new 4K standard and has promised to release the next Spiderman movie in 4K.

    How are they going to do that? Well... they can already do 1080p 3D, so all they need to do is something less than double that. And the next codec being developed has a goal of another halving of needed bandwidth. So... Or there's always more layers...

    Bit rate for cable or satellite delivery? Well...
  • Fanfoot - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    Looks like the Joint Video Team is targeting 2013 for the next video codec, currently tagged High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC. It'll get deployed whether 4K is a reality or not of course, since it'll also allow lowering the bit rate for the same quality, whether for mobile video applications or simply 1080p content streaming over the internet....
  • Fanfoot - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    And it looks like the existing PS3 will be able to display 4K stills. So these TVs will work great for photo-realistic paintings or simply displaying your high-resolution camera images.
  • PubFiction - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Too me 4k displays are going to be about what used to be eyefinity. Everyone tryies to get small bezels and good monitors. 4k offers you that , it offeres you no bezel. So maybe if they are fast enough gamers will want them in place of 3 monitors.
  • Assimilator87 - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link


  • Finraziel - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    I'm actually wondering why on earth we'd need 4K displays at all? I have a full HD 42" plasma (and love it), but I barely see the difference between 1080 and 720 content. Even when downloading for free, I don't bother going for the 1080 version. Same for the bitrate, why do you need the 40 mbit rate that bluray offers when a 4 mbit file (720p 40 minute episodes are generally around 1.2 GB) looks fine?
    What I wish the industry would move towards a bit faster, is a higher framerate! Sitting 3 meters away I don't really see more pixels, but I do see chopping when the camera is panning around (even though I have a plasma, I'd probably go nuts if I'd have an LCD with a static backlight). It seems insane to me that with all the improvements to image quality over the last decades we're still stuck at 24 to 30 frames per second...

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