Friday, April 23, 2021

Opinion: Why 720p for a Switch Pro is no big deal

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Rumors and speculation about the existence of a potential Switch Pro model have been swirling for months, but a new report from Bloomberg says an upgraded version of Nintendo’s flagship handheld / console is coming this year.

According to the report, the Switch Pro – or whatever upgraded model that ends up being called out – will have a 7-inch 720p OLED display and be capable of producing games in 4K in docked mode. It ruffled a few feathers, as many expected or hoped Nintendo would go for 1080p resolution on the upgraded Switch. It’s understandable – 720p feels like a relic of a bygone era as next-gen consoles have normalized 4K gaming, and even on handhelds most smartphones offer at least 1080p, if not 1440p, as we say. ‘ve seen on the latest flagships from Samsung, Google and many more.

However, if this report is true, I am not upset about it. Like Jeff Grubb from VentureBeat highlighted on Twitter, at a screen size of 7 inches, resolution 720p has a pixel density of 209.8 pixels per inch. This is roughly double the pixel density of a 27-inch 1440p (108.79 PPI) monitor and more than triple that of a 65-inch 4K TV (67.78 PPI).

Of course, pixel density isn’t the only thing that matters when comparing screen sizes and resolutions: viewing distance – that is, the distance between the screen and your eyes. – also comes into play. If you are familiar with Apple products, you have probably heard the term “Retina display”. Retina is not a single specific resolution, but rather a “magic number” that takes into account both pixels per inch and viewing distance to determine whether or not the human eye is able to differentiate pixels. In theory, any screen could qualify as “Retina” with a sufficiently large viewing distance – which is why Times Square’s huge video walls look as crisp as a regular TV, although they do. consist of individual LED bulbs that you could easily see the space between if looked at closely.

As such, the aforementioned 65-inch 4K TV “goes Retina” as long as it’s viewed from a distance of at least 51 inches – no problem assuming you’re sitting on a couch in your living room – while the 27 inch 1440p The monitor needs a distance of at least 32 inches which is actually a bit farther than most people would probably sit from their PC screen.

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