Talking tech since 2003

Around this time last year, Apple announced the iPad – a device that arguably started the tablet and mobile computing revolution that has been gradually building up over the last few months or so.  That coming summer, the iPhone 4 was officially announced, and one of the biggest selling points was the high-definition Retina Display that delivered the best Display technology ever to be seen in an Apple mobile product.  Because of the high success of both the iPad and the Retina sporting iPhone 4, many people – myself included – naturally assumed that the second generation iPad would come with the same ultra-real display.  Apple Insider even went as far as predicting that the second generation product would hold an upgraded graphics chip in order to support the type of rending power necessary for such a vivid display.

However, CNET is now coming forth with new information from John Gruber that disputes the inclusion of a Retina display in the dubbed “iPad 2”; a feature that many of us have seen as a given since the unveiling and subsequent release of the iPhone 4.

Just a matter of days ago, MacRumors suggested that upcoming versions of the Apple iOS – the underlying operating system behind the iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, and Apple TV – would support resolutions up to 2048 x 1536.  This suggestion went hand-in-hand with an article by Engadget that said that the iPad would “sport a new screen technology that is akin to (though not the same as) the iPhone 4’s Retina Display and will be ‘super high resolution.'”  However, after speaking to a number of his associates close to Apple, Mr. Gruber has come to the conclusion that the inclusion of a Retina Display on the second generation iPad is “too good to be true.”

Does this mean that the iPad 2 will not have some sort of upgraded graphics?  Absolutely not.  Even when looking at the Engadget article, it was never set in stone that the iPad would have a Retina Display.  However, Apple more or less has to upgrade their graphics in some form or another for one reason and one reason alone: competition.

You see, even though Apple is currently the largest player in the tablet industry, there are a wide variety of other computer manufactures that are doing their best to make out with the same success that Apple has been fortunate enough to have thus far.  Many of these competitors are companies that already deal extensively with graphics and display technology; inclusive of Acer, who is known for their high-quality monitors, Nvidia with their extensive history in intensive graphics, and Vizio with their reputation for affordable HD television systems.  With all of these companies on the verge of entering the mobile industry, Apple is guaranteed to have stiff competition in the graphics arena.  Thus, they have to release the iPad with improved graphics in order to have any chance of holding any type of edge; especially seeing as how the iPad 2 wouldn’t be “refreshed” with a third generation iPad for a year after its release.  Especially with how rapidly technology changes, lacking technology would cause the iPad to become outdated before its time, and would ultimately prove costly for Apple.

Why do I think the iPad won’t have Retina graphics?  In one word, the answer is “cost.”  As Jeff stated in a previous post about the potential for Retina monitors down the road, the problem with such technology isn’t a matter of it being possible to build, but rather affordable.  With the iPad being one of Apple’s lowest priced devices, I simply do not think that the company can afford to ship Retina-sporting tablets (at the same price) whilst still turning a profit.

Even though the Retina Display was never an announced feature, I know that a lot of people expected it to be one of the biggest upgrades to the second generation iPad and were only fueled by the continuous rumors about the device.  However, the fact still is that rumors are not always accurate, and this development illustrates that fact as vividly as – dare I say it – a  Retina Display.

At the end of the day, however, I am very eager to see what upgrades Apple makes to the upcoming iPad refreshment, and what exactly they will do to make up for the lack of a Retina Display.  What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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