One of the biggest pushes in tech right now is high resolution. Whether we’re talking cameras, displays, TVs, tablets, phones, or laptops, the higher resolutions are more sought after and desirable.
This is all for good reason, too. Hi-res displays are gorgeous: making text sharp as print and pictures more lifelike. Everything just looks better when there is more pixel density. Though subjective, this fact is barely debatable. Show 100 people the same content on low-res and hi-res screens and I’d bet 100/100 would prefer the hi-res setup.
Hi-res Has A Fault
There is one issue with higher resolution screens, though. In simple terms, hi-res displays require more processing power.
Screens have refresh rates and that means that 30-60 (or more sometimes) times per second, your processor is refreshing your screen. This creates animation of things like mouse pointers, cursors, and scrolling websites.
When these refreshes happen, the difference between work that needs to be done by the processor varies greatly between more standard resolutions and higher ones.
Think about it this way: a full HD screen (1920×1080) contains 2.07 million pixels. That’s a lot. And, on smaller screens, it is quite sharp. Screens over 15-inches start to show some pixelization, though, and that is why we are seeing more hi-res options.
We now have plenty QHD (2560×1440) and 4K (3840×2160) displays to choose from. These displays look amazing and deliver the illusion of having no visible pixelization to the naked eye.
Again, they are great to look at.
However, lets look at those pixel counts. QHD comes in at 3.67 million pixels, while 4K comes in at a whopping 8.29 million pixels. When compared to FHD 1080p, those numbers go from almost double to quadruple the amount of displayed pixels.
Consider that, when displaying 4K, your CPU is doing the work of 4 1080p screens. Do the math. Exactly 4.
Now, if we hooked up 4 displays to your current setup and had something moving or running on each screen, we’d all expect the performance to struggle compared to running the same tasks on a single 1080p screen, right? This makes complete sense, yet when we start pushing a 4K screen and performance drops, some people don’t understand why.
4 times the pixels is why.
‘Scarlet’ and the Samsung Chromebook Plus
The new Chomebook tablet ‘Scarlet’ looks to be sticking with the pretty modest 1024×768 display. On a smaller, 8-inch device, this isn’t the worst thing in the world. The original iPad Mini was this exact size and resolution.
It also carries the same internals as the Samsung Chromebook Plus, a device some have described as a bit laggy and slow. We’ve enjoyed the Plus, but compared to other devices, it hiccups quite a bit.
And I attribute much of that to its gorgeous, hi-res display.
That thing is crazy-good, beautiful to look at, and makes me want to use the Plus even when it is a bit too slow for the task. That’s why they put that display on the device, right?
Here’s where I think ‘Scarlet’ could benefit from the lower-res screen.
With the same chipset and internal setup, ‘Scarlet’ will have FAR fewer pixels to render. Specifically, the Samsung will be responsible for 4.88 times the number of display pixels when compared to ‘Scarlet’.
Imagine the performance boost when that overhead gets removed!
Low-Cost Processors and Displays
The win here is performance. Sure, hi-res displays are fantastic and I love them, but when we are talking about devices with processors that are affordable and not exactly what we’d call high-speed, a lower resolution display can go a long way in giving the device the ability to function at a much higher level.
I’m on the hunt for an older monitor with a resolution similar to ‘Scarlet’ and I will use the Samsung Chromebook Plus connected to it with the lid closed to get an idea of the performance boost. No, you won’t see it in synthetic benchmarks, but I guarantee I’ll see it in day to day usage.
Until I get that test run, I can only say that, logically, this is a good move for whoever is making ‘Scarlet’. For work or other productivity tasks, performance always beats beauty.
The day will come when cheaper silicon can easily push these higher resolution screens, but for now, there is a definite win with the route they are taking with ‘Scarlet’.