Next home for Retina: Apple's TV display?

Apple's focus on display tech is driving it to make an HDTV, says Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate.

Apple's third-generation iPad Retina display compared with a standard HDTV screen.
Apple's third-generation iPad Retina display compared with a standard HDTV screen. Apple

So, why would Apple make an HDTV ? If you're looking for another reason, here's one.

I queried Raymond Soneira, the founder, president, and CEO of DisplayMate Technologies, earlier this week about the timing of the upcoming 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. Though he wasn't able to address that question, he did give a pretty good answer about why he thinks Apple is going Retina.

Soneira believes Apple will continue to adopt Retina across all "premium" products, including the Apple TV. But it's less about the intrinsic Retina technology than it is about consistency, he believes.

"My...theory is that color consistency and accuracy among all Apple devices is more important for Apple than Retina Display resolution and will be the strategic basis for the eventual launch of an Apple Television," he said.

Citing one of his reports, he continued.

Starting with the new iPad 3, images on all future Apple devices and displays will appear visually identical and with extremely accurate colors and images.

Why does Apple need to introduce its own Apple Television with an actual TV screen as opposed to just relying on an Apple TV streaming box connected to some other brand of TV? Because all existing TVs produce inaccurate and inconsistent colors and images that will be poor matches to Apple's own iPhones and iPads.

Consumers will love the fact that everything including their personal photos, TV shows, movies, and videos will all look exactly the same on all Apple devices.

And this jibes with my own theory on the importance of display tech, which, until relatively recently, received surprisingly little attention in laptop reviews. A few years back, display tech was usually little more than a footnote, even at major review sites.

That's finally changed. Whether your device has an IPS (or its close cousin AFFS), twisted nematic (and low- or high-quality twisted nematic), or a Retina-class display is crucial if not a deal-breaker feature (not to mention other display tech like AMOLED).

As usual, Apple is leading the way.

Addendum: Soneira sent me this as a clarification (below) for Retina and HDTVs.

There is tremendous confusion (from consumers to Wall Street analysts) as to exactly what a "Retina Display" is in terms of resolution and Pixels Per Inch. Some analysts are saying that an Apple Retina Display Television is years away because the display technology won't be ready for years. That is simply not true... Existing 1920x1080 HDTVs are already "Retina Displays" in terms of visual sharpness at typical viewing distances.

So, when Apple launches its own Apple Television it will almost certainly have a resolution of 1920x1080 and it will be a True Retina Display Television. The timing of an Apple Television will be up to Apple, but the display technology is already here.

Updated on July 15 at 4:30 p.m. PDT: adding clarification about Retina and HDTV at bottom.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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