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Hello?! Display producers, you can continue evolution now!

Posted by alecs1 pe 2008-01-25

For quite a while the pixels per inch value (PPI, very similar to DPI) of monitors has stagnated. In fact, if I remember correctly it has somewhat gone down (when I first bought my first display I could find a 19″ 1600*1200 lcd, now I can’t, I might not remember correctly though).

So here we are, today we have the same 96 PPI we had maybe 10 years ago (someone please confirm), though IBM made a 204 PPI monitor in 2001. Some things improved, but colors and PPI are mostly the same.

The first source of information on the problem is on Anti-Grain Geometry page about fonts: http://antigrain.com/research/font_rasterization/. On a discussion on sayit.ro someone has pointed out that the Windows desktop would be very hard to use with larger PPI because of the way it scales its contents (and so producers would have nothing to gain from providing monitors that few would buy).

The question was if Windows Vista is capable of producing nice results. Not (wanting to) having such a system I had to google, and it seems Vista does the job: http://www.istartedsomething.com/20061211/vista-dpi-scaling/.
Notice the details of the icons in the taskbar at the 480 DPI. They are lovely.

I had too see how my desktop would do, and the results are mixed:
Default, around 96 DPI:

200 DPI:

480 DPI:

(I have only a KDE 3.5.5 for the moment, so please someone give links to some screenies with Gnome and KDE 4.)
As you can see the text is ok, menus, standard buttons and the window decoration work well, the rest not really.

There are some things to note though, it appears the Vista Aero thingy is does things a bit different from what KDE programs do. Vista uses its compositing engine and keeps the correct proportions, like vector graphics, while the KDE programs have to resize themselves to have the right height and width as they can. Of course, I would appreciate some details about Vista here too, and also some information if non Microsoft programs perform as well as those frome the picture.

So this is it, Vista is able to do it, the open source programs will catch any gap in no time, please provide us with nice displays. IBM has been doing this since 2001: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T221

So, anyone who has details please share them.
In xorg.conf you have to write the dimensions of the screen in milimeters (that is: resolution / DPI * 25,4), and it works at least for the ATI driver. I don’t know how to change DPI settings without logging out. Here is how my monitor sections looks now:
Section “Monitor”
Identifier “17” LCD”
Option “DPMS”
VertRefresh 50-75
HorizSync 38-83
#96 DPI
# DisplaySize 338 270
#120 DPI
# DisplaySize 270 216
#200 DPI
# DisplaySize 162 130
#480 DPI
# DisplaySize 67 54
EndSection

This article continues with part II: https://alecs1.wordpress.com/2008/04/05/hello-display-producers-you-can-continue-evolution-now-part-ii/

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