Pretty much ever since the iPhone 4 with retina display was launched, resolutions have played a major role in smartphone market. In September, Samsung unveiled Galaxy S II HD LTE, which sports a 4.65" 1280x720 display. That was the first smartphone with HD resolution (720p). Now there are already a few phones with HD resolution, for example Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Optimus LTE. Higher resolutions are not only courtesy of smartphones as "retina" displays are coming to tablets as well. On May, Samsung showed off a 10.1" panel with resolution of 2560x1600 - resolution that's only seen in high-end 30" monitors.

Toshiba is taking the resolution battle one step further by releasing a 6.1" LCD with 2560x1600 resolution.   In terms of pixels per inch (PPI), that is 495. Below is a table comparing displays and their PPIs.

Comparison of display PPIs
  Screen Size Resolution PPI
iPhone 4/4S 3.5" 960x640 329.65
Samsung Nexus 4.65" 1280x720 315.83
Samsung's Unreleased Tablet Panel 10.1" 2560x1600 298.9
Toshiba's New Panel 6.1" 2560x1600 494.9

As you can see, Toshiba's new panel is a clear winner, and its PPI is 50% greater than iPhone 4/4S's, which has the second highest PPI. There is no word on the panel type but the viewing angles are 176 degrees, which hints toward IPS. Toshiba also claims 1000:1 contrast ratio and 61% NTSC color gamut. 

The image above summarizes the advantage of high PPI. ~500PPI is starting to be close to the limits of human eye because even at very close range (like in the image), seeing the individual pixels is nearly impossible. At normal viewing distance, it would be impossible to see individual pixels.

However, the big question is, what is the use for 6.1" display? 4.5" is more or less the maximum for smartphone (although there are a few bigger ones, such as Samsung Galaxy Note). Bigger than that won't fit in most people's hands or pocket comfortably. Tablets, on the other hand, usually begin at 7". 6.1" is in the middle - it's too big for a smartphone and too small for a regular tablet.

It's possible that this is just for trying out what today's technology can produce and we may never see the display in a consumer product. If it's aimed for a certain product, then the only product that makes sense would be a small tablet, unless Toshiba or any of its partners have something special in mind. 

Source: Toshiba Mobile Display

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  • JMS3072 - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    I actually wouldn't mind a 6" tablet at all, provided that it was in a 3:4 aspect ratio. I love my Nook Touch and think it'd be a great size.
  • asuglax - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    I agree, except for the 3:4 aspect ratio...I'd keep the 16:9 because many presentations are moving towards widescreen as many monitors move in that direction. 6.1" would still fit in my pocket but provide a larger, more detailed image to work with than the 4.3" on my current phone. It'd be nice to see the color gamut improve some.

    I'd also like to see phone functionality built in because I do not feel like having multiple wireless bills, or have the pain in trying to set up a wireless hot spot every time I want to use the internet on my tablet. A 6.1" phone probably would fit into my mitts (there is still a good amount of space left with my 4.3"), but I know my hands are larger than most, but there are always wireless headsets that you can connect with bluetooth...
  • davepermen - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    Besides Tablet, this would be great on some e-reader device.
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    Requires too much power. E-reader needs a good battery life and hi-res display is quite power hungry (more pixels = more power needed). This panel won't be cheap either, which is another crucial feature of an e-reader.
  • inighthawki - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Depends how much battery life you need. Most people probably won't use it for more than a few hours a day, making it perfectly acceptable if it had only about 4-5 hours of battery life (which is completely reasonable even for that display if the internal hardware isn't too power hungry). At which point they just charge over night. It's also up to the person buying it if they are willing to pay a lot for such a high res display or not.
  • elian123 - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    Why do we need such resolutions? For looking at tablets/phones with a magnifying glass?
  • retnuh - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    *cough* Resolution independence *cough*
  • dagamer34 - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    Resolution independence has largely failed to gain reaction from Apple and Microsoft. Instead, both have decided that resolution doubling is an easier option to code for (as rendering vector images takes up more GPU power than an image with 2x dimensions). Sure, you loose some flexibility in that images do t have near infinite detail, but it's a lot easier for designers to create images with 2x detail than to have to deal with trying to crate detailed vector images.
  • GuinnessKMF - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - link

    It's gained significant traction at microsoft, it hasn't gained much traction with application developers, as more developers move to WPF and with Win8's new presentation framework you'll start to see more applications properly support resolution independence.

    Most of the OS' have caught up with this, it's web and application developers that need to start embracing it and moving to vector and away from bitmap.
  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    Even Win8 won't have resolution independence. It's going to be closer to properly supporting multiple pixel densities. MS's recommendations are to create assets for standard (~100ppi), laptop (~130ppi), and high density (~180ppi) devices. Win8 will support resolution doubling, though it's a work in progress.

    True resolution independence has more or less died a lonely death. Not that it's a bad idea (it's a great idea!), but the difficulties of implementing it have pushed both MS and Apple to resolution doubling. And it's not for a lack of trying, especially on Apple's part.

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