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New iPad Screen Resolution Higher Than 1080p - New Video Format Needed?

Posted by: , 22:33 AEDT, Wed March 14, 2012
Tags: HD, iPad, Movies

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The new iPad's "higher than Blu-ray" resolution perhaps deserves a slightly higher resolution video format from Apple to take full advantage of the high-def screen

With the launch of the new iPad, and it's luxurious "better than HDTV" screen, it has become a new platform for HD movie lovers to enjoy their favourite flicks. 

But the logistic of watching your typical 1080p movie in the native resolution of the movie becomes problematic, ironically due to the higher resolution of the iPad screen, compounded by the fact that the iPad screen has never been in the preferred 16:9 format (in landscape mode) for movies.

For older iPads, the resolution of the HD movie (even 720p movies) was usually higher than that of the screen itself, at least for the horizontal resolution. This meant that HD movies had to be scaled down to match the lower resolution of the iPad screen itself. This "downscale" will usually produce a sharper picture than had the movie been at the old iPad's own native resolution of 1024x768.

But with the new iPad, the situation has been reversed, with the screen's resolution now much greater than that of 1080p HD movies. And this leads to two new possible ways to display the movie - upscale, or display the movie at its native resolution in a "postage stamp" way, although only the former will be supported by the built-in media player.

Upscaling has the problem of taking away some of the picture's sharpness, although this can be avoided if the upscaling algorithm is done right. And the small size of the new iPad screen coupled with the high resolution should still produce a brilliantly sharp picture.

But the sheer resolution of the screen can potentially allow a 1:1 pixel matched version of the 1080p movie to be played back, with black borders surrounding the picture to fill in the blank space (see screenshot below for a "mock-up" of what it could look like).


Roll mouse over image to see the native "postage stamp" version compared to the "upscaled" version

But Apple could do is to bring in even higher resolution videos to iTunes, ones that are in the native resolution of the new iPad, so 1080p actually becomes 1152p. These would downscale perfectly to 1080p when needed, but takes full advantage of the new iPad "better than HDTV" resolution. And that's only for widescreen content - for 4:3 content, the native aspect ratio of the iPad screen, the resolution could then even go as high as 1536p!

What do you think?


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