Retina displays are a bit like well made furniture. You don’t necessarily notice the difference when you’re sitting in front of one, but if you use one for a while and return to a non-retina screen, you wonder if you can unsee the pixels.
Rather than going the route of producing Macbook Pros with touchscreens, Apple went the route of producing high pixel density displays. They are great to look at and differentiate the high end Mac laptop hardware from the PC competition. They don’t have touch, but Mac OSX wouldn’t be all that touch friendly in its current state if they did.
Google got on the bandwagon producing not only a computer that had a high pixel density display, but one that supported touch in its Chromebook Pixel. Unlike the Macbook Pros, you can’t run Windows on a Chromebook Pixel.
But Google’s shown it’s definitely possible to do touchscreen and high pixel density. But where are the Windows laptops with this functionality?
High end laptops from ASUS, Toshiba, HP, Lenovo, and Dell are still pushing 1920x1080 as their maximum resolution. When people point at the PC market cooling off, one might consider that if you bought a high end laptop a couple of years ago, it’s probably still pretty high end today. Apple were able to differentiate their high-end laptops by going to “Retina”. A high end PC laptop owner doesn’t really have a reason to get something new if they purchased a top-of-the line box in the last 3 years.
It’s almost as though we’re in a “smaller is better” phase with laptops – with much of the innovation going on at the sub-13 inch level. Surface Pro is revolutionary in terms of size and build quality. I’d say “perhaps small’s where the market is”. On the otherhand, if the market is in a downturn, would a range of Cadillac sized laptops super high-resolution hurt or help the trend? (Lenovo and Apple no longer make 17 inch Laptops and I don’t think HP does either – so maybe the 17 inch laptops I really like are on the unprofitable end of the distribution curve).
I’m hoping at some point soon that ASUS (who made the 17 inch laptop I cart around when I travel) will produce a laptop with a screen that has 2560x1440 resolution. After using a retina display, the pixels are noticeable. Until ASUS gets itself into gear, I guess I’ll just have to be tempted by running bootcamp on the 15 inch retina Macbook Pro.