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Smart Phones and Tablets

As small hand-held devices displace the PC as our primary technology, the subject of pixels becomes even more difficult to grasp. The most striking issue of this evolution is that, often, the tiny individual points of color (pixel) on a small hi-res screen often can not even be decerned by the human eye.

We have evolved to the point that increased screen resolution may no longer offer a better image or easier reading, but just manufacturer bragging rights. (Think Apple Retina) This is the same type of escalation that happened in the digital camera industry. There comes a point where the increase in resolution offers no attendent increase in the utility of a device.

"Pixel Density" has emerged as the metric by which most phones and tablets are compared. Because of the wide range of physical dimensions, actual "screen resolution" is no longer an effective benchmark.

For example, a very small device might have a modest resolution (ex. 320 X 400) but, because of the tiny screen, appear just as sharp as a larger device with more total resolution.

Here is a look at pixel density for popular tablets.

Device Screen sizeResolutionDensity
Nexus 10 9.7in2560 X 1600300
iPad Retina 9.7in2048 X 1536264
Kindle Fire HD9 8.9in 1920 X 1200 254
Asus/Google Nexus 7 7in 1280 X 800216
Kindle Fire HD7 7in1024 X 600 169
iPad mini 7.9in 1024 X 768 163
iPad Original 9.7in 1024 X 768132

As you might imagine, only those of us with superior vision can even see something as small as 1/300th of an inch. Maybe you work in your yard and garden, that's about the same size as the tiny stickers you may have struggled to remove.

Single Yellow Pixel This section allows you to view a single pixel on your smart phone or tablet. The program first queries your device and tries to determine the native resolution. Next, an image is created with a single yellow pixel at the very center. If your phone or tablet has a high resolution display, you may find it difficult to see the pixel without a loupe or magnifier.

To use the demonstration, access the following link from your smart device. If a QR Code app is installed, you can use you camera to navigate from the QR Code at right.

Mobil Link: http://pixelyzer.com/syp.php

*Wikipedia maintains a good list of screen data for various devices here.