Retina is not a big deal

Retina is not a big deal.

I can remember being a kid and switching from CGA to EGA:

What a difference! We went from purple a turquoise to 16 colors. The next big jump was going from EGA to VGA:

I begged my parents to sell our Tandy 1000 so we could buy a new 386 with a VGA monitor. VGA could display 256 colors (at 320 x 200). ATMachine has a great comparison between King’s Quest V in EGA and VGA.

However, the biggest leap was going from VGA (320 x 200, 256 colors) to SVGA (800 x 600, and up to 16 million colors):

I’ve used two games from my childhood to illustrate the difference: Scorched Earth (on the left, VGA) and Worms (on the right, SVGA).

To me, all these jumps: CGA to EGA, EGA to VGA, VGA to SVGA felt significant.

I’m not sure if I’m just getting old, but the jump from “regular” iPhone, iPad, and Macbook resolutions to Retina doesn’t feel as significant:

So I’m trying to decide if Retina is a big deal. Eventually, yes, I’ll upgrade. But I don’t have the same desire to upgrade as I did when I had an EGA video card, and I really wanted a VGA card. Likewise, I wonder if my kids would notice (or care) about the difference between a Retina and non-Retina display.

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  1. Just marketing , will be norm within a year

  2. Hey, Justin, it’s an interesting question, and I like the way you pose it. My first computer was a VIC20, and I’ve been by most of them up to my current MacBook Air (going the Amiga route as long as possible). I’ve seen the changes, although it’s always good to be given a history lesson; it is so easy to forget (and especially to rationalize how “good things were way back when”(.

    I saw my first retina display on Wednesday, and while it’s not a “big deal”, I can totally see how it’s a “good thing”, albeit evolutionary. To me, having multiple desktop screens on the Mac is good, but still, I run Visual Studio on one of them, and my vision is still better than the display. Adding more pixels allows me to process more data. For that reason, it might be a big deal. If it gives a 10% productivity boost, that’s really a pretty bit deal. And I think it just might. My next computer will probably have retina or similar display. :)

  3. Are you being serious? Maybe it’s true that games don’t benefit so much, but screw games, this is bigger than that. ‘Retina’ screens are a similar sort of jump to that which we saw when laser printers became available/affordable — and it could do for digital publishing what those laser printers did for desktop publishing. That’s kind of a big deal.

    It’s more important to hand-held devices than big old computers. You won’t go back to non-retina after just a few days of using a retina phone. Even on the new laptops, it has serious advantages — if you edit or work with photos or video especially, you won’t go back to non-retina once you’re used to it.

    BTW, Tales of Money Island is a great game, and yay for fellow Amiga enthusiasts in the comments :)

  4. I should have mentioned in the post that I do have an iPhone 4 (with Retina). I regularly switch between that, an iPod touch, an iPad Mini, and 1st gen iPad.

    For me Retina feels “brighter and more crisp”, but I still enjoy reading on my iPad Mini. The smaller form factor (and weight) of the Mini is a bigger feature (for me).

    I was just debating buying a Macbook Air or a Macbook Pro 13″ with Retina. Again; the Retina screen looked “nice”, but wasn’t a game changer enough for me to commit. I bought the Air.

  5. I really like the Retina display. It’s so much sharper.