Coffeehouse Thread

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ClearType on Tablets

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    @ Dentaku: We built a prototype eBook device in the Microsoft Reader group around 1999. It had a 150ppi display, which did, in fact, have the RGB striping running vertically on the portrait display for the very reason you suggest.  We had to have the glass specially built for it; all the manufacturers were geared to produce "vertical RGB in landscape" glass.

    Technology at that time was not really up to the job. But it got better, fast. The first high-res device display I had was the Dell Axim PocketPC. Anyone remember that? 204 or 208ppi screen (I forget which), beautifully clean, crisp text - especially with ClearType in Microsoft Reader eBook software running on it. As a test, I read Gibbon's "Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire" in its entirety on it. It's a gargantuan reading task, six or seven volumes - and it passed with flying colors.

    The prototype we built was at least ten years ahead of its time. That seems to have been the problem for the company.

    The Microsoft Reader software was very, very good. If you were able to run it today on an iPad, it would stack up equally well against iBooks or the Kindle Reader - even after more than a decade. 

    I'm delighted eBooks have now come of age. I just wish...

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    I heard you talk about the early eBook devices on This Developers Life a while ago. It was very interesting.
    Come to think of it... I guess I'm more interested in the overall quality of displays than just the readability of text though.
    Getting accurate colour AND even contrast from top to bottom on an LCD is still a challenge today.
    We had those qualities in Aperture Grille CRTs many years ago but obviously they weren't portable, energy efficient OR terribly crisp Smiley

    My feeling is that crispness is more important in small devices (wasting less time zooming in and out of websites etc.) and colour accuracy gets more important in larger devices where you will be viewing more photos and video and of course running photo/video editing software. 

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    The new ipad has an excellent resolution, but there are tradeoffs - cost/power/battery life. I think the resolution is higher than optimal for current hardware given the processing requirements.

    So I agree that cleartype has a shelf life, but it will still be valuable for quite a few years.

    It will no longer be necessary when screen resolutions (pixels/inch) double (will take 10 years at a guess, going by historical exponential rates), or if OLED takes over (noone will bother to write new algorithms for different subpixel patterns).

    For the lifetime of Windows 8 it will still be very valuable - except on the highest end devices. And so it's a major omission for Metro to leave it out.

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    I'm quite happy to make the tradeoffs. Cost? Definitely worth it when you consider my $13,000 display of a decade ago. Power/battery? The battery on my new iPad seems to last about as long as the one on my old one - though to be honest, I've never run them side by side to check, since it's never been an issue. The battery does take longer to charge, though. I'm a bit more thoughtful about keeping it fully-charged.

    The screen is worth every one of those tradeoffs, and more. Color is better, too.

    I watched HD video on it in bed last night. Terry Pratchett, Going Postal. Best picture quality I've ever seen. Just amazing. Reflections of ink on a quill pen just blew me away. 

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