What Is A Retina Display? Understanding Your TV

Technology is constantly improving. No matter what sector or field, each and every single year, new products come out with exciting characteristics, abilities, and upgrades.

There are countless electronic devices on the market, and almost all of them get advanced features with each new release.

One such attribute is retina display, a screen feature created by Apple that creates a seamless viewing experience for any tablet, computer, or TV user.

Understanding The Ins And Outs Of Retina Display

Retina display is a term first coined by Apple. It refers to special high-quality screens that, through advanced technology, provide incredibly sharp resolution and a clear picture.

Such screens are much easier to see and look much better than traditional ones.

While the term, as with most top-of-the-line technological products, comes with a premium price tag, it is more than worth it.

In the following article, we will analyze retina display in a way that shows exactly what it is and why it works so well.

A New Look For A Modern World

Retina display comes in many forms. Even though you will only hear the term when referring to Apple products, it is important to be aware that every product (especially TVs) can hit the same mark with relative ease.

At its base, it is simply more pixels packed into a smaller space so that an image appears much closer to natural 20/20 vision. However, putting pixels too close together can also distort or ruin a picture.

Retina display carefully walks that line to give the viewer the most natural image possible. So natural that it is nearly impossible to improve upon.

Much More Than A Name

While it is easy to assume that the term “retina display” is a marketing ploy, it does carry weight.

Basic retina screens, which first came about with the iPhone 4 back in 2010, provide you with a much deeper pixel density (which then leads to a greater overall sharpness).

Though there are several ways to conceptualize retina display, the easiest way is to imagine that all of the pixels on a screen are tightly packed together to the point where the human eye cannot tell them apart from a distance of roughly 12 inches.

Why is that a big deal? Because it means that rather than seeing individual pixels, you see what the pixels show.

That helps create a much more complete look that goes beyond the capabilities of basic devices.

Sharper Image All The Way Through

Retina display goes a long way to making your devices look better. This is not something that may be readily apparent to people who have used regular devices their entire lives but, similar to the jump to HDTV, it becomes obvious once you use it.

Every single aspect of a retina display device, from the text to the graphics, seems to be smooth rather than jagged. That makes all of your streaming, watching, and browsing much clearer, creating a seamless and enjoyable experience from the user.

It is not about a single improvement. It is about subtly changing the entire device for the better.

One of the most important things to notice about the feature is that how it alters your overall image.

While your internet browsing and streaming will look much better, simple things like icons also pop off the screen as well.

The Importance Of Density And Distance

There are several key factors that make up retina display, but the two core aspects are pixel density and pixel distance.

However, all devices do not have the same density. That then begs the question, how can multiple products with the same features differ so much?

The answer pertains to how far away you watch a screen.

As covered above, an entire display works due to the distance your eyes are away from the screen. Using that, you can then surmise that the further away from the screen your eyes are, the less pixel density is needed to create a cohesive image.

That combines with another truth, which is that the larger a screen is the further your eyes are likely to be from it. You need to get in close to get a good view of a smart phone, but you can comfortably sit across the room and view a 50-inch TV.

As a result, the TV needs a much lower pixel density than the smart phone.

Continuing on with that idea, some iPhones have a pixel density of 326ppi and the 13-inch MacBook Pro has one of 227ppi. Despite that, both are considered to have retina display because you hold your phone much closer to your face than your laptop.

While that can all sound a bit confusing, the basic premise is that if the human eye cannot see individual pixels at a common usage distance, it is retina.

Retina Display In TV’s

Retina display works throughout all products, but it is especially handy when it comes to televisions. While you may not be too bummed if your phone image isn’t perfect, such losses are much more noticeable while watching your favorite movies or shows.

tv retina display

Though no television can say they are true “retina display” because Apple owns the term, you can find the same quality if you know what you’re looking for.

People tend to sit at least a few feet away from their television, with the distance changing based on screen size and the way their house is laid out.

For that reason, large televisions need a much lower pixels per inch (PPI) than something like an iPhone to reach their peak image. Rather than something that is always just inches from your eyes, you’re viewing something across the room.

Knowing that, a 40-inch 1920×1080 HDTV has the same quality as a retina display when viewed from 5.2 or more feet away, while a 50-inch 1920×1080 HDTV hits that mark from 6.5 or more feet away.

Every TV is different but knowing that distance for your own television or one you want to buy is important when making a purchase.

Just because a television does not say it is retina display does not mean it cannot hit that mark.

Retina Display And Super Retina HD

Retina display was once the baseline for all Apple products. However, that was a long time ago. The company has now expanded out and improved on that technology in various ways.

This is important when discussing modern technology because tracking such trends enable you to know what you should buy for a certain experience.

iphone x

Apple improved upon retina display many times over the past decade, and they now have regular retina display, Retina HD and Super Retina HD.

Each of the HD options, as their names suggest, are upgrades to the original that came out nearly 10 years ago.

Retina HD refers to the iPhone 6 screen that came about in 2014, and Super Retina HD is used to describe the display of the iPhone X.

While those upgrades by name are only present in Apple products (once again through the fact that they own the trademarks) you can find the same power in many modern HDTV’s.

As covered above, you are not necessarily looking for the term when it comes to getting the best picture possible.

Rather, you want to analyze different Apple products, figure out their specs, and then compare them against any TVs you may be in the market for. That will help you pick out the highest quality product possible.

Retina 4K And 5K

Continuing our discussion of different displays on the market, it is important to make note of both 4k and 5k TVs.


HD is one of the most well-known resolutions out there, but it is quite outdated in terms of the tech world. That may sound surprising, but technology moves quite quickly.

Almost all of the highest quality TVs on today’s market are either 4k or 5k resolution, which refers to the number of pixels they have horizontally.

Such specs are incredibly important when choosing a TV, but they are not the only thing to consider. As mentioned, you should analyze the pixels per inch. That helps you know what kind of quality you’re getting and what your device resolution will look like when it is in use.

Seeing More Clearly Than Ever Before

It is not easy to keep up with new or exciting trends, but the above sections show why retina display (or devices with resolutions that match retina display) is so important.

While you can simply assume it refers to a better picture, it is much more than that. Retina display is a complex process that makes it so that your eyes cannot pick up individual pixels and everything appears much more cohesive.

This is not something that many people understand, but once you have a grasp of it in detail you’ll be able to find high quality across many different products no matter how they brand themselves.

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Digital Poet at BurnWorld Inc.

I am the Team Leader here at BurnWorld. I am an audio/video enthusiast and have been in this industry for over 10 years. I love testing DVD/Blu-Ray and Video software.

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