After months of speculation, Apple launched its tablet, the iPad on
Wednesday. The lightweight device (1.5 lbs) features a luminous
touchscreen and a user interface similar to the iPhone. The iPad, which
can cost $500 to $830 depending on the model, runs an expanded version
of the operating system used in the iPhone.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad,¬,,s screen as a LED-backlit with
In-Plane Switching (IPS). Jobs was referring to a type of LCD screen
that is more often found in HDTVs than it is in mobile devices.
So-called ,¬"twisted nematic,¬ LCDs have dominated consumer laptop and
phone displays. The viewing angle on these screens are limited, ranging
from 110 to 120 degrees. When the screen is viewed outside this optimal
range, its colors can look ,¬"off,¬ and the overall image is faded or
In-plane switching helps fix those problems. In IPS LCD screens, the
crystal molecules are oriented so their motion is parallel to the
panel, instead of perpendicular to it. For viewers, the result is a
very wide viewing angle ,¬€ up to 180 degrees ,¬€ with brilliant color. Apple iPad,¬,,s most striking feature, its gorgeous 9.7-inch touchscreen
display, uses liquid crystal display technology ,¬€ but with a few
unusual twists ,¬€ to present a vivid image and a wide viewing angle.
,¬"The iPad,¬,,s display uses the same capacitive touch screen technology as
the iPhone and iPod touch,,¬ says Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst
for iSuppli. ,¬"At the same time it offers a better picture quality than
The iPad,¬,,s screen, though, doesn,¬,,t have a wide aspect ratio, which is
unusual in the TV display world, says research firm DisplaySearch.
Instead of a 16:10 or 16:9 aspect ratio, the iPad screen uses a 4:3
,¬"Perhaps they were trying to find a middle ground between the
requirements for books, magazines and newspapers and the requirements
for video and gaming,,¬ say analysts at DisplaySearch.
The iPad display has some other interesting features. It is arsenic-
and mecury-free and has a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating,
which Apple had introduced in the iPhone 3G S. The iPad,¬,,s 1024 x 768
display resolution, at 132 pixels per inch, is has chunkier pixels than
the iPhone 3G S, which has a smaller display but a resolution of 163
pixels per inch.
The biggest disappointment is the lack of an OLED
screen option in the iPad.
Sony also produces OLED screens but in limited quantities, largely for
its own products, like the Sony XEL-1.
Though Apple showed the iPad,¬,,s potential as an e-book reader, iSuppli
and DisplaySearch remain skeptical about it. LCD screens, even in
black-and-white mode, will get washed out in bright sunlight. And if
users turn on the backlight to improve the contrast, they are likely to
draw down the battery of the device. On top of that, reading on an LCD
means you,¬,,re staring into a lightsource, which produces more eyestrain
than reading words by reflected light, as you do with printed pages or
E Ink displays like those used in the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader.