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PC Tip of the Month

Try HiDPI

February 2020 – by Per Christensson

It's 2020 and most smartphones and laptops now have "HiDPI" displays. These screens have high pixel density or pixels per square inch. They display more detail, making images sharper and text easier to read.

While HiDPI screens (or "retina displays" as Apple calls them) have been common on mobile devices for years, only recently have HiDPI computer monitors become popular. This is strange, since I think HiDPI is just as useful for desktop computers as smartphones and laptops.

Next time you buy a laptop or desktop computer, I recommend getting a HiDPI screen. In many cases, the resolution of the screen is twice the resolution of a standard monitor. For example, a standard high-definition display is 1920x1080. A HiDPI version of the display might be 3840x2160.

But not all HiDPI screens are 2x high-definition. They can be wider or taller with different aspect ratios. For example, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 has a 12.3" screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels, and 267 PPI. My 27" iMac Pro display has a 16:9 ratio (like HD), but a "5K" resolution of 5120x2880, and a pixel density of 218 PPI.

The standard minimum PPI for HiDPI displays is lower for desktop monitors than for mobile devices since a computer monitor is typically further away from your eyes. For a smartphone, a standard minimum HiDPI is 300 PPI. For a laptop or desktop computer, the standard minimum PPI is 200 PPI.

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