The other shoe to drop on Tim Cook’s “big plans” for Apple in 2014 is resolution. Specifically, rumors from the Chinese site Pad News and Foxxcon indicate that the forthcoming “iPad Pro” will ditch retina in favor of 4K (as in 4,000 pixels on the longer side.) A report from Hamza Kahn at the News Tribe based on the Chinese supply-chain information says that Foxxcon already has a 12.9-inch 2K iPad Pro prototype and that a 4K with a possible resolution of 4096 by 3072 is in the works. The iPad Air’s retina display is already at 2K resolution (2048 by 1536), so the difference between 2K and retina is just a matter of terminology.
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If you have been to a Best Buy during the holiday season, you have likely seen the Samsung UHD TV with astounding “Where’s Waldo” level detail. Its resolution is only 3840 x 2160 at 65 or 85 inches! Having a 4K display in your hands is a good candidate for “big” in Tim Cook’s terms and would create a wow factor that investors keep claiming Apple needs to restart its growth curve.
The really big challenge for Apple with such a display would be to keep it thin like the new iPad Air. When you compare all of the tablets on the market, there are two factors that make the iPad stand out. The first is that iOS 7 is just crisper and cooler-looking than Android or Windows, but most strikingly is the thinness of the devices. All of the other tablets feel chunky by comparison. Especially as Apple expands into the jumbo tablet form factor, keep in it light and manageable is super important.
What will “pros” use all of that resolution for except watching ultra high def movies? Researchers at Duke University are working on a gigapixel camera to capture incredibly detailed images, and breakthroughs in medical imaging and big data visualization will give us lots to fill those pixels with. Think of it as “Where’s Waldo” for information.
Does a 4K display on a hand-held tablet qualify as something big that Apple’s “customers are going to love?” Sounds big enough to me.
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