eComputerTips is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission without any additional cost to you.
What is retina display in a laptop? You may think that retina display is a special type of display, which is true in parts, but it is actually a brand name.
This is used by Apple for their series of OLED and IPS LCD monitors. Apple uses the term “Retina” as their trademark and it is registered with respect to its use on mobile devices and computers.
It was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Canadian Intellectual Property Office. This was approved by the two in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Now, a retina display is referred to in different names, depending on the different versions and enhancements that it comes with, such as:
- Retina HD display
- Super Retina HD display
- Super Retina XDR display
- Retina 4K or 5K display and
- Liquid Retina display.
Usually, a retina display is much different as compared to any traditional displays that you get on the market today, Apple or not. For example:
- The display comes with a larger pixel density. This makes the images clearer, denser, crispier, and more vivid.
- It also doubles each of the user interface widget, both in height and width, in order to compensate for the reduced pixels.
If you look at it technically, a retina display, which is termed as HiDPI mode by Apple, is actually four physical pixels that are equal to one logical pixel. This equation offers better picture quality by offering a few significant benefits such as:
- The CPU will see a very small portion of the data which helps it in calculating the comparative positions of each element much more efficiently and quickly and,
- The GPU will then find it easy to render these specific elements with much assets of better quality and color reproduction which makes the final output much clearer and sharper.
The main objective of creating a retina display is to make the images look much more real by making the pixels almost invisible to the naked eye or when the images are viewed from a distance.
Though it took off pretty slowly initially, but, over the years, this technology is used in almost all Apple devices that come with a screen. It includes:
Well, it seems that retina display is the creation and forte of Apple but, it is not the absolute standard when it comes to the sharpness of the displays. It may vary significantly depending on a few specific factors such as:
- The size of the display of the device and,
- The distance from which a user will typically view the screen.
For smaller devices the viewing distance will be less. This is why these particular devices have a higher PPI or Pixels Per Inch value.
On the other hand, the displays on the larger devices are larger and therefore will be viewed from further away, which is why these screens come with a much lower PPI value.
There are also a few additional enhancements done on different versions of retina displays over the years. Now you will get retina displays that have a:
- Larger screen size
- Better contrast ratio and
- PPI count.
All these advancements in this technology has made the displays more competent to deal with the sharpness as well as the smooth curves of all printed text materials. It also helps the retina display to create an immediacy of the photographic prints or graphics as well.
What is Retina Display in a Laptop?
A retina display has become the new normal now. As it was in 2012, when it was first introduced by Apple, it is now not anything special anymore. These displays boast about picture clarity and a much better viewing experience for the users.
However, at this point you should know one important fact, which is, the retina display is the trademark of Apple.
This means that you will not see many manufacturers claiming that their products come with a retina display.
Most of the people believe that a retina display is something new and a revolutionary technology.
Well, this is no doubt one of the most innovative and groundbreaking emissive technologies buy its own right, but it is just one of the many types of screens that you will get on the market.
Most of these displays available today will also deliver clear and crisp images as well, and it not necessarily has to be a retina display.
A retina display actually means a monitor that comes with a very high resolution. However, you should not mix it up with a 4K display, mind you.
It is also not necessarily one of the screens available on the market that comes with the highest resolution.
Rather, it is simply a display in which the pixels are so dense that you can see each of them from a normal viewing distance. This allows you to read the texts more clearly and view crispier images.
Though the number of pixels and resolution of the screen are important for a retina display, but, the more important aspect of it is the pixel density.
This pixel density is measured in PPI or Pixels Per Inch and usually the pixel density on a retina display is more than 300 pixels per square inch.
This pixel density is what makes the screen live up to its claim. It is this density that makes the individual pixels imperceptible to the human eye when it is viewed from a normal distance.
This is because this is actually the limit of a human eye that shows a clear image when viewed from a distance of up to 10 to 12 inches away from the eyes.
However, there are a few specific displays of these types that come with much lower pixel density, which, in turn, owes to its greater viewing distance.
The further you are from the screen, lower the pixel density can be, and still make it impossible for you to see individual pixels.
The screen resolution of a retina display is of 2048 x 1536 pixels. This means that the pixel density of such screens is 264 PPI. However, the MacBook Air released in 2012 came with a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels.
If you compare a retina display with a regular display, things are entirely different, whether it is an LCD or LED.
The resolutions of these screens may also vary. The resolution of the cheaper and older models seems to have a lower resolution, but, alternately, the newer and higher priced models tend to deliver much crispier and better images.
There are also a few other types of displays on the laptops and smartphones of today that are simply better in comparison to the retina displays.
These displays do not only have a higher screen resolution, but are also better in several other factors as well.
One such is the AMOLED displays. Few high-end laptops come with such displays. This is the technology invented by Samsung and is the acronym for Active-Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode.
There are few significant differences between an AMOLED and a retina display, which includes:
- In the retina displays the backlight is only LED but the screen itself is an LCD, which is not so in an AMOLED display.
- An LCD screen seems to have a longer lifespan but the AMOLED display will consume much less battery power as it does not need it to produce black because it is done naturally.
When it comes to the colors, it seems that it is much better in an AMOLED screen than on an LCD screen. There are several reasons for it such as:
- The black color is deep and true black
- The screens have excellent contrast ratio and
- These have a wider color gamut.
However, in comparison to a retina display, the downside to an AMOLED display is that the colors may look more saturated at times which may make the images look unrealistic. It also makes the screen more vulnerable to image burns.
There is a common belief among people that a retina display may cause harm to the eyes. Check out Differences between Full HD and 4K Displays.
Well, there are quite a few complaints about eye issues, but several studies and researches have shown that it is actually not due to the retina display itself but, in fact, it is for the blue light emitted by the screens.
There are a few good ways to avoid any chances of eye strain. These are:
- Using proper eyewear
- Reducing your screen time
- Adjusting the exposure of blue light and
- Using a blue-light protection app.
Remember, a retina display is so designed that the resolution itself of it is safe because it is the amount that the human eyes are traditionally used to.
As said earlier, the specific element that does the magic is the Pixels Per Inch of the display, which is approximately 300 PPI.
1. Quality of image
Since the human eye can detect a pixel density of around 300 pixels per inch and the retina display comes with a 326-pixel density, this improves the quality of the image.
This is because the pixels are almost invisible to the users and have smoother lines and higher resolution. This makes it easier for the users to read the texts on the screen. On the other hand, it also offers a far better and cleaner user interface.
2. Wider viewing angle
Due to the improvements made in the technology and design of a retina display, it offers a wider viewing angle than those devices without it.
This means you can see the images clearly from any side of it and not only from the front of the screen.
3. Better color quality
The Retina display comes with a better and wider color gamut which enhances the color saturation of the screen as well as the images displayed on it. Ideally, the color quality of a retina display is about 44% better than the non-retina displays.
4. Better viewing experience
The users will have a much better viewing experience while using a retina display. This is because these screens have a higher contrast ratio between different colors, which means the images will have better color accuracy, reproduction, and presentation.
5. Screen real estate
The high resolution of the retina display provides more real estate of the screen to fit in more info on it and still keep them legible.
This makes the screen more useful for not only the users but also for the app developers as they can make the most out of the screen space available.
6. Suited for creative professionals
A retina display allows better consumption of content whether it is simple images or videos, graphics or websites, eBooks or web articles, and even games.
This feature makes these types of high-resolution displays best suited for creative professionals who are into photo editing, graphic designing, and more. It is all due to its ability to reproduce images with more and finer details.
7. Softer for the eyes
A retina display will cause less eye strain even if you spend a lot of time in front of your computer.
This is due to its ability to produce sharper images and you will not need to put an extra effort or strain your eyes to focus on a specific area on the display.
This will eliminate chances of headaches, blurred or double vision.
8. A better technology
This is a much better technology that promises better outdoor visibility even under direct sunlight.
The backlights have a longer lifespan and are not as fragile as the organic diodes.
In this high-end emissive display technology, the individual pixels are turned off to demonstrate the blacks in a given area.
9. Cost effective
Though the initial investment on a retina display will be more in comparison to an ordinary display but it will provide more value in return down the road. It also consumes less energy making it more cost efficient.
Laptops, or any other product with a screen for that matter, that comes with a retina display is much more expensive.
This is primarily due to the high cost of production of the display panels with IPS technology.
Though the high pixel density is good for the images or the eyes, there are quite a few specific web contents or apps that cannot make the most out of it because these are not optimized fully.
Therefore, the images of these websites and apps are not adaptable and are not reproduced accurately and look slightly distorted. It also looks a bit pixelated on a retina display.
12. Leaking backlights
Sometimes, the high contrast ratio of the retina display causes the backlights to leak out. This is because the pixels on the darker areas of the images are turned off selectively, thanks to its emissive technology.
13. Response time
The pixel response time may be slower at times as well, especially in those retina displays on low-end devices.
However, the liquid retina displays do not come with this drawback because the hardware is much better which improves the refresh rate of the display to make it as high as 120 Hz.
Is the iMac 4k retina display worth it?
The answer actually depends on two things - your budget and the time you will spend in front of it. If you can splurge on a 4K retina display, it will be much more comfortable to your eyes, even if you look at it for a long time.
It is worth the money you pay due to its perfection which will increase your productivity as well as your multitasking potential.
Is a retina display better than full HD?
Well, certainly yes, especially when quality matters. The retina display will not only have a higher resolution than a full HD screen but it will also offer much better color accuracy, viewing angles, and stock calibration as well.
This will help you immensely when you edit your photos on your laptop.
Is a retina display good for eyes?
Well, the retina display as such will not cause any direct harm to your eyes, much as the LED backlight and the blue light will. If you are sensitive to them, it may be uncomfortable for you, causing eye strain and sleep disorder.
Having a retina display in your laptop is a great thing because it promises more comfortable viewing. However, these are costlier than other superior displays, and whether you will go for it or not will depend entirely on your personal preference and budget.