Apple’s iPad mini proves it’s time for display industry to ditch the diagonal

“Size is a critical dimension for consumers to consider when buying a product with a display,” Jeff Yurek writes for dot color. “Will this TV fit on my wall? Would this tablet fit in my jacket pocket? How much picture am I getting?”

“To guage displays today, we take a diagonal measurement of a 16:9 rectangle. This leaves value on the table. Not just because consumers are notoriously bad at math, it fails to capture the full value of the increase,” Yurek writes. “This is especially relevant as consumers shop more online. Although size may be apparent in a brick and mortar showroom, it is not easily conveyed online.”

Yurek writes, “Apple’s Phil Schiller demonstrated this yesterday at the iPad mini announcement. The new iPad mini is only 0.9 inches or 12% bigger than a Nexus 7 on the diagonal, he says, but it is actually 35% larger by area. This is another example of display marketing efforts starting to move beyond PPI comparisons. Product and display marketers: let’s get real about the value we’re adding – whether it’s surface area or color. Let’s stop leaving value on the table.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iPad mini vs. Google Nexus, which is more indicative to the average consumer of what’s being offered?

7.9″ (diagonal) vs. 7.0″ (diagonal) — or29.6 sq. in. vs. 21.9 sq. in.?

Obviously, it’s the latter. We hereby second the motion!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Joey M.” for the heads up.]

41 Comments

    1. First a few comments about terminology.
      There are 2 commonly used measures for “size” of displays: (i) Width(e.g., in cm) * Height(in cm) and (ii) in #pixels(hor) * #pixels(vert).
      “Size” for the diagonal is a length, which is equivalent, IF you know the aspect ratio (e.g., 16:9).

      Some people call the pixel size the “resolution”, although in image processing, resolution means the number of pixels corresponding to a given length (e.g., dpi, the number of pixels/cm it takes to represent discernible image features), i.e., we need to know the scale factor.
      By extension for unscaled digital images, the term “resolution” means the number of pixels it takes for two discernible image features (e.g., 2 parallel lines) to be distinguishable. In a smoothed image, this would quickly be at least 2 pixels.

      About the article: it is annoying to use colloquial terms for technical features. Why not properly call a spade a spade, i.e., use correct terminology?

      Maybe to be accurate, the article should just state that the size (in cm) of a display doesn’t matter, as long as the screen has the right number of pixels, AND AS LONG AS THE USER HAS SHARP ENOUGH VISION.

      1. I am a big fan of using the proper technical terminology. The misuse of ‘resolution’ has always bothered me, although not nearly as much as the all-too-frequent use of ‘silicone’ for ‘silicon,’ and vice versa.

        Anyway, keep fighting the good fight, vanfruniken!

        1. …or the over-used term “form factor” to mean size, dimensions, shape, etc. And so far no one has disclosed what other “factors” are involved; there’s always just this “form” factor.

          And don’t get me started on those who confuse “trope” with “meme,” and vice versa, and those who misuse both terms.

          Or why every blog suddenly became “curated” the minute Steve Jobs used that word a couple of years ago.

          OTOH no one’s yet picked up on “enderle” as in “That blogger sure knows how to enderle the Thunderbolt.

  1. Only if you talk about both length along with girth.

    Simply talking about inches in one dimension means nothing. 80″ of something pencil thin does nothing to satisfy one’s desires although impressive when laid out on the table.

      1. Nope, at least, I doubt most would be impressed.
        If the 80″ was folded 10 times (so, multiply cross-sectional area by 10), then the new length is 8″ – reasonable.

        However, the girth would be pathetic:
        Radius of a #2 pencil is about 0.14 inches
        So, cross-sectional area of pencil = pi*r^2 = 3.14159 * 0.14^2 = 0.0616 square inches.
        Ten times that = 0.616 square inches
        Radius of “folded-over” is thus sqrt ( 0.616/pi ) = 0.443 inches.
        So, the diameter (“girth”) is about 0.886 inches, in other words, about 7/8″. Less than average.

        Although, if it was prehensile, as you hint in your hypothetical, that might add enough to your adaptability category to overcome those shortcomings.

        1. Did you know that you can fold a dollar bill a max of 8 times? Pretty soon, no matter how thin the material is, you hit the point where there are two many layers for the laminar surface to undergo yet another fold as you are really stretching the outer surface at the fold radius.

          So, whatever @kingmel and @krioni are folding, I highly doubt that you can fold it 10 times.

          1. Wrong.
            You can only fold it _in half_ a max of 8 times.
            If you fold it accordion-style, you can get a lot more folds in, depending on how closely you can manage to space the folds.

            Then again, I think kingmel had material other than paper in mind. 🙂

            1. @Krioni: I stand corrected. I was assuming the “fold in half” scenario rather than accordion folds.

              Whatever material kingmel had in mind, no matter how thin, you still reach a point around eight where you can no longer fold it over because you can’t stretch the outer radius of the fold any more. I don’t my proofs with me but I recall this pretty well from 50 years ago. Even a ductile material has its limits, but certainly it can go beyond eight.

      2. @kingmel: I hope you recognize the irony in making the wrong assumption that 80″ pencil-thin (about 1/6 average) folded over 10 times would overcome the 1/36 cross-sectional area deficiency. Especially so on an article about how area shows more dramatically the effects of a change in one dimension. 🙂

      1. Fsck off you ignorant troll. You wouldn’t know logic or reason if they buggered you.

        Text books in this country are controlled by conservative texas and florida. Teachers have been teaching to tests since your boy shrub implemented NCLB, the WORST, MOST UNDERFUNDED, UNREALISTIC piece of conservative trash legislation. (remember, he teamed up with that drunk Kennedy)

        You don’t know shit about schools or the problems affecting them. Let me assure you it isn’t teachers unions.

        Now go climb back into your monster truck crank up your Nugent and go make the Cheney and the Saudis some money driving yourself to the drive through liquor store at 10 mpg and STFU.

  2. Let me calculate.

    if you pay about $245.00 for 21.9 sq in, for 29.6 sq in surface i pPad Mini, it equals to $336.55 in price. So iPad Mini is cheaper per sq. in. compared to Google Nexus.

    n spite, I wish the price of iPad Mini started at $299.00 May be Apple can sell 8GB version for $275.00. I hope….

    1. Wait a few months and you might be able to pick up iPad Mini refurbs for $299. I can wait for the refurbs. It’s a waste of time for outsiders to try to rationalize Apple’s pricing structure. Apple knows what they need to do and what they can get away with. Apple will continue to be successful operating the way they are even if there are those constantly griping about Apple products being over-priced. That’s just a relative emotion that has nothing to do with actual costs involved in production.

        1. Not true. The Brits drive on the left so they pass a car coming in the opposite direct right should to right shoulder. This is how jousters used to pass each other with their joisting lance held in their right hand and arm. It’s kind of difficult trying to reach your lance across your chest to unseat someone riding to your left. It was Napoleon who put a stop to that nonsense and decreed that drivers of wagons pass each other left should to left shoulder, meaning you’re a “friendly.”

  3. It’s simple math. Length is linear, area is squared, volume is cubed. Mathematically stated (computer wise, cause superscripts are sooooo tough to write in these fields.
    X^1 is linear
    X^2 is squared.
    X^3 is cubed.
    It’s high school math AND you can have a lot of fun with it when you express it in % changes, which ANALysts love to do, cause it sounds impressive to some (read wall street). A small diagonal increase is actually an increase in two directions, thus the numbers for the area increase percentage wise are substantially bigger, but it’s just a feature of the universe…

    Butt weight, there’s more. If you consider the volume aspect of the iPad mini to be thinner that a thicker competitor then you actually have a volumetric decrease. That leaves the competitor’s open to say…”Well DOH our product has a volume that is Y%.

    And so the song and dance goes, when you put out numbers without qualitative values you can say anything. Mark Twain pointed out years ago the value of statistics when lying but I like to think of what a good friend of mine used to say about his dick: “Mine’s only three inches but some girls like it that thick.”

    1. Along those lines, the maximum area for a given diagonal measurement is achieved with a square (1:1 aspect ratio). A square with a 7.9″ diagonal would yield 31.2 square inches. The iPad mini, with its 4:3 aspect ratio, comes very close to that maximum at 29.6 square inches. As with most things Apple, it is a well-reasoned compromise taking into account many factors.

      As you increase the aspect ratio to 16:9, the display area decreases for a given diagonal measurement.

      I think that the people on this forum would be amazed how few Americans have ever considered these length/area/aspect ratio relationships, much less actually understand the math to quickly calculate the results.

    2. “A small diagonal increase is actually an increase in two directions…” Actually you can increase only one component (either the x axis or the y axis) if you increase one of the interior angles as well as the diagonal.

  4. Time to go metric as well… How many inches in a mile? How many yards by how many yards makes an acre? Time to update and throw out our out-dated systems and move to the metric standard put in place after the French Revolution… We are using the serial port of rulers/measuring standards in a Bluetooth Age!!!

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