Retina display! It's a buzzword, but unlike other buzzwords, it's worth caring about. Your iPhone 4 has one, and now your new iPad will too. So what's the big deal? It's the new iPad's best new feature. Read on.
Current iPads have a display resolution of 1024×768. That was OK the first time around, less forgivable when sequel launched, and today, it can be a little rough on the eyes. We're used to sharp screens elsewhere—so Apple's selling us one here: 2048 x 1536. Double the resolution. That is sharp.
The actual meaning of "retina display," if there is one, is a picture quality so rich, you can't discern individual pixels—just a wall of pure color (from 15 inches away, Apple says). In other words, it doesn't look like you're staring at a computer screen. Which is a good thing. The iPhone 4(S) can pull this off by jamming 640 × 960 pixels into a 3.5-inch screen, for a density of 326 pixels per pinch—generally enough to make the pixels melt away. The new iPad sports 264 pixels per inch, which isn't iPhone quality, but on a screen so big, it's still wonderful—and a huge leap over the 132 PPI of its predecessors. Call it retina-ish, but it's still a million more pixels than an HDTV.
Feast on this illustration to see just how much of a difference the pixel boost makes.
Everything made by Apple will take advantage of the new retina display right away. But devs will have to start scrambling to remake their software big and pretty enough to fill out all of that new space—and in the meantime, they'll look blurrier and more pixelated than everything else. But don't worry, they want to look good just as much as you want them to. And it'll be more than worth the wait.
For our complete new iPad analysis, head right on over here.