800 x 480 cellphone screens: overkill or good idea?


Hitachi_800x480There’s quite a bit o’ buzz on Hitachi’s announcement: they’ve launched production of a new cellphone LCD panel, fitting 800 x 480 resolution on a 2.9-inch screen. Now I love a high resolution screen more than most: my favorite computer display is the 1400 x 1050 res on my 12.1-inch Toshiba M205 Tablet PC and all three of our home televisions are capable of 1920 x 1080 resolution. I have to wonder though: do we really need 800 x 480 in such a small area?

Obviously, picture clarity improves with at least one of two things: a higher resolution display or a smaller display. Take a look at a digital pic on a large display and then look at the same pic on a smaller display: it will look clearer. That’s why the iPod can get away with a lower resolution screen and also why a video on the QVGA Zune screen looks solid. If Apple or Microsoft increased the display size any more on either device, then a higher res would be needed or the picture quaility would decrease.

The 800 x 480 res is what we have natively on the 7-inch UMPC screens and yes, at that size display, I think we could bump it up a bit. 800 x 480 on a 2.9-inch display? I’m not sure there’s enough of a benefit there to justify the cost and rest.

I’ve previously owned two VGA Windows Mobile devices: the Toshiba e805 with a 4-inch screen and the Dell Axim X51v that uses a 3.7-inch display. I have to say: 640 x 480 was fantastic and having 800 x 480 would likely make the text a tad small. Take that 800 x 480 res and plop it on a 2.9-inch screen and the text will be even smaller. Sure we can incrase the font sizes, but what’s the big push for such a high res in such small screen area? Hitachi also has to combat the increased power consumption of such a resolution in a small display, although they appear to solved that issue. Ah….maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s overkill and I’m more than happy with VGA on a screen at three-inches or less. How about you?

Just for kicks: if you want to know what 800 x 480 looks like on a 4.3-inch screen and what device just arrived in the jkOTR test labs, hit the jump.

Yes, we have a Raon Digital Vega in the house on loan from iCube!

To give you an idea of text size: the "Vega" logo is about one-half inch wide.

The 2.8-inch QVGA display of my XV6700 as it sits on top of the 4.3-inch 800 x 480 Vega display.

Although the lighting is poor, my XV6700 stylus is below the Vega for another size comparison.



A high res screen becomes more and more important as we move towards a more friendly (and universal) mobile UI)


The ratio between screen size and resolution becomes smaller, but you point the good question : readibility (don’t know if it is correct in english, sorry).

On my Sony U3 (oldie, but goodie) I have 1024×768 pixels on a 6.4″ screen : it is nice and good, but smaller text size would not be better for me…


I agree, just use a larger font. I’m guessing that a higher res means more energy will be used, but at that size of a screen it’s probably not very noticeable on battery life. If the software is good at scaling images, I see no problem with such a high resolution.


Just make your fonts larger!

You know, I think that higher resolutions are actually a good direction to go in. You might think it’s wasteful but if we can double or quadruple the resolution at the same cost point (granted tis will take a while), it will be worth it.

I think most people are trained to think that higher resolutions mean smaller and harder to read icons and text, but if the fonts and images take the same amount of screen space but just at a higher crisper resolution, then we have nothing to lose.

Hopefully, in the future, operating systems start thinking in terms of inches or milimeters to define the sizes of text and images on screen and when it comes time to get rendered it looks for the dpi of the display in order to tell how to scale it for the final rendering.

in this way, a 800×480 resolution on a 2.5 inch display would just render the screen at 321 dpi and a 240×320 display would render it at 137 dpi.

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