‘That’s Bullshit’

December 10th, 2012

Ben Brooks responds to Shawn Blanc, who said retina displays don’t fundamentally change usability or use-cases for the iPad:

Sorry Shawn, that’s bullshit.

Retina displays, on any device, absolutely change the usability of the device. Retina displays make text sharp, make text readable, reduce eye strain and they absolutely make me want to use these devices more.

Retina displays are indeed better for reading—to my eyes, they’re less harsh and allow a smaller font size. And they are undeniably beautiful, too.

But text is more than readable on the iPad Mini’s screen, despite having a dramatically lower pixel density than the iPhone’s or iPad’s displays. In fact, because the iPad Mini is much easier to hold comfortably while sitting down and dramatically easier to hold while walking around, I’ve used the Mini for reading books in the last 5 weeks much more than I did the full-size iPad. The Mini is small enough and comfortable enough to hold that picking it up to read a book feels rather close to picking up a paperback—something that you do without much thought or effort. You can just pick it up and read.

The full-size iPad, because of its size and weight, never felt like that. It’s simply too big. At least for me, for most uses, the iPad Mini’s more ideal size and weight make it a much more usable device than it loses by including a less-than-retina display. I would prefer a retina iPad Mini obviously, but between a retina display and a small, lightweight form, I choose the smaller, lighter form. It contributes more to the device’s usability than does a brilliantly clear and beautiful screen.

So I think “that’s bullshit” might be a bit rash.