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Finally, Display Resolution on Laptop Matters

If you ever tried to get some work done on your laptop (beyond browsing Facebook), you'll probably agree with me that having more screen real estate via higher resolution is essential.

When 1280 x 720 was slowly becoming the norm, just a few years ago, I really hated buying laptops. In fact, I hated it so much I avoided laptops altogether and for years stuck with a lumbering old Athlon XP desktop. In my demented anti-laptop logic an old desktop computer with outdated tech with a high-resolution monitor was miles ahead of the game. Eventually I caved and bought a laptop when I realized that my Lenovo S10 netbook wasn't going to cut it getting work done while mobile. Anytime I'm without a monitor to attach the S10, I'm basically productively crippled.

(Yes I was anti-laptop and I bought a netbook instead. Like I said, crazy logic.)

Eventually as the industry chugged along, "HD" became embedded into everything and suddenly 1366 x 768 "HD" resolution became the norm, replacing the dreaded 1280 x 720. While 720p (1366 x 768) is plenty for HDTVs of various sizes, when it becomes so prevalent that your choices in 15.6-inch laptops are mostly regulate to 768 pixels of vertical resolution, you'll probably rage like me too.

Thankfully, things are changing in recent days as manufacturers start to recognizing consumers, not just power-users, enjoy devices with higher resolution panels.  HP brought back the Radiance 1080p display with the re-release of the Envy 15 and Envy 17. Dell continues to offer high-res display in their XPS lineups (although the offernigs are a bit scattered and unclear at times). Even Lenovo is starting to introduce full HD displays into their IdeaPad consumer lineup with the new Y580.

Earlier today, if you were following tech news, you've probably came across the news that Apple has announced an incredibly high resolution display of 2880 x 1800 for their new Macbook Pro 15, with its pixel density reaching into 220 ppi, making it a "Retina" display. Beyond being incredibly sharp for a 15.6-inch display, the resolution choice for this $2,200+ machine is mind boggling considering for a very long time, the 15-inch MBP came with a 1440 x 900 dislay --- in one fell swoop, Apple double the resolution count.

As media and content move more and more towards full HD side of things, we'll see the shift to the right in terms of display resolution size. With Apple giving the option for such high resolution, it won't take long for other manufacturers to provide these options in the higher-end, premium lineups. There will still be a number of die-hards out there shunning widescreen resolutions (no matter if its high-def), but hey, you can't please everyone.

Noteworthy Laptops with High-Res Display Options:

  • MacBook Pro 15 - 15.6" - 2880 x 1800
  • HP Envy 15 - 15.6" - 1920 x 1080
  • Lenvo IdeaPad Y580 - 15.6" - 1920 x 1080
  • Sager NP6165 - 15.6" - 1920 x 1080
  • Sager NP9130 - 15.6" - 1920 x 1080
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - 14" - 1600 x 900
  • HP Envy 14 Spectre - 14" - 1600 x 900

    Past Editor’s Notes and Discussions

  • Vertically ChallengedDec 18, 2012

    The decline in laptop vertical resolution is even worse than described above. Here is approx. the best I could get (even willing to pay more) over time: ~2004: 1600x1400 ~2008: 1920x1200 ~2012: 1920x1080 At least Apple is moving in the right direction, and I hope the Windows-based systems reverse the trend soon too.

  • Viet DoJun 11, 2012

    It took a gazillion years but laptop displays are finally shifting to 1920+ resolution territories. Let us pray we never see 1366 x 768 again in the distant future.

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