back to article The Glorious Resolution: Feast your eyes on 5 HiDPI laptops

First it was slimline Ultrabooks, then it was convertibles. Now the latest high-tech morsel that PC manufacturers are dangling before us in an attempt to boost their flagging sales is the high-DPI laptop. The information that Microsoft provides for developers refers to high-DPI displays as having a resolution of more than …

Two and a half years later, more expensive, far worse battery life, crappy plasticy build quality, half-arsed badly implemented gesture support. You may as well have stopped with the first one and just said "this one folks, don't waste your time looking any further"

Maybe people will start to see for years now the notion of an "Apple tax" has been misleading at best. Especially once you factor in everything you don't have to pay for.

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Anonymous Coward

errrmmm

not really for starters the DELL isn't in the same category as the Apple its really aimed at professionals that need decent performance out of a laptop. We have a large modelling group where I work and they use Precission workstation laptops.

Last time I looked the Apple Tax was alive and well, prices for desktops were a good £200 per unit more than the equivalent DELL and that was with sh1te back to an apple store 1yr warranty rather than 3yr onsite NBD that we get with DELL

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No mention of the Lenovo Y50

Lenovo Y50 really should have made the line-up there.

15.6" 3840x2160

Quad Core i7

16GB of RAM

4GB GTX860

I was planning to get the Aorus X3, but when I got around to ordering last week I spotted the Y50 and for me the higher res screen of the Y50 outweighed the slightly faster GPU in the Aorus.

Not to mention that the Lenovo also happens to be significantly cheaper than all of the reviewed models at £1099, and on top of the list price being cheapest, Lenovo are doing 20% cash-back at the moment for the next week or so.

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Unhappy

Re: No mention of the Lenovo Y50

Wish I had waited. I purchased a Dell Precision M4700 last year and while it's OK the Y50 as equipped above blows it away in almost every measure (apart from 32 GB of RAM in the M4700, used rarely for very specific applications), and does so for than half the price I paid while looking much better to boot.

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Off topic, but I have been lusting after screen real estate ever since my 256x192 Dragon 32. I want mega resolutions and many external monitors. Not retina/dpi, but the ability to display many things at once. Like 5 spreadsheets full size without any overlap. I have a 1920x1080 laptop powering 2 external monitors at similar resolution, but it still isn't enough. Displayport is our only hope.

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Bronze badge

If you're only looking for spreadsheets at a relatively standard res. than maybe worth looking into USB VGA adaptors.

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Yeah, I'm running 2 external 24" displays off of my Surface Pro 3... You can never have enough screen real-estate.

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I have the Aorus X3 reviewed here for work, and commonly use it to drive 3 1920x1080 displays ( 2x external, 1x lcd ) - I find it really hard to use anything less these days ;-)

The only reason I don't run the LCD at 3200x1800 ( giving a hefty 7040 pixels of horizontal resolution ) in this setup is because text-scaling between multiple resolutions on different workspaces/desktops isn't handled too well by Ubuntu and Windows.

I was pleasantly surprised the intel chip can handle these resolutions without effort, despite the comparison to the nvidia 870m.

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Yeah, Windows 8.1 multi-display multi-DPI scaling has improved, but it still leaves a lot to be desired.

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too late, too expensive

These sorts of screens are what I was looking for five years ago. The fact that Laptop vendors are still peddling x720 screens now is the main reason I have not bought one. (the other was W8) I just feel they are taking the piss.

Frankly, given where other consumer electronics have gone in the intervening period, these screens should be available on anything north of a 500 quid flaptop.

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Re: too late, too expensive

I agree. I only just ordered a Lenovo Y50 because for the first time since 2006 that laptops have been available with a resolution that is significantly higher than my ThinkPad T60 from back then, which has a 2048x1536 screen.

Then again, we have had the same problem with desktop monitors. I have a pair of IBM T221s on my desk - 3840x2400. Apple's new Mac and Dell's new 5K monitor due out next month are the first time since 2001 when the T220 came out that the resolution bar has been pushed forward.

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Silver badge

Re: too late, too expensive

I have to agree with both of you. I had a monitor that exceeded the 3Kx2K resolution stage over five years ago, and it wasn't considered a "top of the line" model back then. If I still had it, I'd be smug as hell over all these "4K" bastards whom think they're hot shit.

No, you're not *4K* as neither of the axis exceed 4K pixels, so just stop that shit right here, right now. I was doing "4K" over five years ago, and I only paid ~350 for the 32" beast from TigerDirect. So crowing over this supposedly "ultra sharp, high resolution" pseudo-4K crap is just showing your brains to be the consistency of porridge.

Damn it, we should be sporting resolutions in the 10Kx10K by now, and paying around ~500 for the ultra large screens that you can only find on tvs these days. A 13" laptop with 3Kx2K for ~1,200? Fuck that, I want a 6Kx3K for ~500, and it damn well better rock a video card with 4TB of dedicated RAM to power it, because that same 3Kx2K monitor I had was being pumped by a video card with 1GB of it's own RAM... Five Years Ago. So for us to be barely able to get "4K" out of today's cards, that MIGHT have 4GB on them IF you give up your First Born, and then only if you've sold off the Mrsus into slavery for the monitor to display it? What the hell?

This isn't progress, it's fucking us over for baby steps when we should be cruising along at Mach 2 or better.

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Re: too late, too expensive

I used 4k resolution screens in the late 70s. We are finally back there, and it only took 35 years. :-)

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Meh

Re: Monitor resolution

The last bastion of the patronising and pompous, apparently....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Monitor resolution

I'm quite certain that's what all those that come short in that department like to say.

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Unhappy

And still only Apple understand that 16:9 is shit for real work

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Anonymous Coward

real work?

Same old crap trotted out ad nauseum by people who can't think.

Take 2 laptops. Both have a vertical screen size of say 20cm

One is 4:3 the other 16:9

Please explain how the one with the narrower screen is any better than the wider one for "real work"?

Does "real work" not include using applications with numerous toolbars and palettes that can be docked at the side of the screen, leaving more space to see what you're doing?

Please... tell me what "real work" is.. I've obviously never encountered any in my working life, and have obviously been missing out all these years of using BIGGER screens.

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Re: real work?

Its the usual snobbery

Very high resolution wide screens are great for laptops as you often don't have a second screen and the width allows you to easily place 2 windows side by side without feeling that either window is being compromised.

Then later on, when work is finished and a gaming session in the hotel room is needed then the wide screen makes its second useful appearance.

... as it does again even later when catching up on a TV show

I have never i my life lamented a monitor being to short, I have though, especially when using the low res crap some companies expect us contractors to use missed having a full 1920 (or more) width screen

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Re: real work?

I would say that a 16:10 screen is the one for 'real work'. Width, while nice, does not compensate for height - vertical scrolling is a PITA because you have to constantly go up and down.

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Re: real work?

By the time you get your 16:9 laptop screen to a height where it can compare to a 4:3 screen, it'll be a 21" laptop by this point. Laptops are judged by diagonal space and a 16:9 15.4" screen has less vertical room than a 16:10 15.4" screen (repeat for the other sizes).

Additionally, 16:9 means that once-useful screen space is replaced with a thicker plastic bezel (check most modern laptops and you'll see the top and bottom of the bezel is much thicker than the sides). It means a screen which is smaller in physical area than a 16:10 screen of the same comparable diagonal size. It usually means a drop in resolution as 1920x1200 becomes 1920x1080, and 2560x1600 becomes 2560x1440.

And worst of all, it was pushed for one reason alone: To make the panels cheaper so the manufacturers could earn more profit and/or push ever cheaper and nastier laptops out. Fine on a £400 disposable laptop, annoying on a £2,000+ and supposedly "professional" laptop.

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Re: real work?

Just when are these idiotic laptop companies going to realise this? HiDPI means nothing when the screen real-estate is exactly as useless as on 16:9. We have been shouting and shouting about this for YEARS but they just DON'T LISTEN. How can they not understand that Apple has dominated the high-end of the laptop market by making 16:10 screens with near-perfect colour accuracy -- replicate these two elements and you will own the most profitable market segment, as I know few people who actually want to use Apple's proprietary OS/keyboard/drivers etc. Can the laptop manufacturers really be that stupid, or has Apple used its vast financial resources to bully the panel manufacturers and manipulate the market?

Additionally, it is a lie that there is more screen available on a wider screen as an identically-sized diagonal on 16:9 will have a smaller area than on 16:10.

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Re: real work?

@AceRimmer

"when using the low res crap some companies expect us contractors to use"

As a contractor you should be able (and in some cases expected) to use your own equipment.

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Re: real work?

"As a contractor you should be able (and in some cases expected) to use your own equipment."

And I do spend a lot of money on my Laptops (I buy high end and make them last a few years)

I also spend on software, usually a separate windows licence for the client running in a VM, it makes it easy to hand over should anything happen as everything will be in the VM.

However, about 60% of the companies I've worked for insist on contractors using client issued equipment for security reasons. Given that I work on database systems and frequently have access to sensitive data thinks makes sense and is something which in their position I would make contractors do too.

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Got the MacBook Pro Retina 15”, and it’s a superb Unix Workstation on the move. Pretty crappy as a laptop, in my opinion, it’s just too big and too heavy - but the battery life is amazing, and the performance is fantastic. It can comfortably max out the Windows performance score - whilst running in a VMWare Fusion VM, and running multiple Mac programs as well. I don’t use it for Video Editing - mine gets used for cross platform development (all C, me), with Visual Studio, Xcode and Netbeans installed.

On balance though, if you don’t need to run Windows or have HiDPI, I’d say that the best laptop is still the MacBook Air. Let’s face it, most people don’t need Windows* or HiDPI, they just need a reliable, well built, and light notebook computer. I had one, and I miss it - as a pure laptop it beat anything else I’ve used hands down. It was shit at running Windows though, hence the MacBook Pro.

*Frankly, most people don’t need Mac OS X either and would be perfectly comfortable with a nice cheap ChromeBook.

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Holmes

Re: if you don’t need to run Windows... the best laptop is the MacBook Air.

Is Bootcamp unavailable on a Macbook Air?

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Silver badge

Re: if you don’t need to run Windows... the best laptop is the MacBook Air.

@AbelSoul

No - bootcamp is available, but I don't want to use Bootcamp. For my use-case, the best tools are available for Mac OS X, so running it exclusively in bootcamp would defeat the purpose of it being a Mac. If I needed a laptop exclusively for Windows, I'd buy a Lenovo or a VAIO and have done with.

I'm sure that the Air can run Windows adequately in Bootcamp, but I know that it's very poor at running Windows in a virtual machine, and especially once you start working with Visual Studio, SQL Server and the rest.

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Pint

Re: if you don’t need to run Windows... the best laptop is the MacBook Air.

Got you now. Thanks for the clarification.

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Precision - reduced configurability?

I'm attracted to the 3800/4800 Dell Precisions, but as with most Dells there're far fewer configurable options on the web site nowadays. And aren't these Precisions now down to just two memory sockets/16GB max?

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LDS
Silver badge

Photographers like large gamut displays that can be color calibrated.

When it comes to photography, you don't really care too much about resolution (although more pixel can be better) and how much photos 'stand out' with its default settings. Although many casual viewers may like highly saturated and high contrast images, it's not what you need when processing photos. What you need is a large gamut display able to cover more than sRGB, close to full AdobeRGB, and which can be fully calibrated. Otherwise Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. can't be used at their best, and HighDPI support becomes of little use.

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JC_

Dell M3800

Prices start at around £1,500 for a model with a conventional 1920x1080 display, but it’ll cost you £1,848.00 to step up to a "quad-HD" display with 3200x1800 resolution.

It's worth keeping in mind the Dell Outlet store (and those for the other manufacturers). I'm typing this on my M3800 with the quad-HD screen and it cost £1,050 + VAT a few months ago. Even in the regular shop there is always a discount code available.

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Dell: Still waiting for something better than my Precision M90...

Dear Dell,

I am still waiting for a 17" class laptop with a screen resolution that exceeds my 2007 era M90's 1980 x 1200 with an nVidia 512M.

If you don't do it, another manufacturer will.

8 years later and Dell still isn't offering anything better. What a bunch of crap.

(I got excited when I saw this article, went to Dell's site, saw the M3800's screen res and then went to the M6800 and saw that it is still 1920 x 1080. What a dissappointment).

15" screens are too damn small for doing serious development on. I need a desktop replacement type.

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Re: Dell: Still waiting for something better than my Precision M90...

"If you don't do it, another manufacturer will."

Its been a few years already and no other manufacturer has bothered.

I don't find 15" (or 15.6") too small for development, although I run windows at native resolution on the 1920x1080 panel. Its big enough that I very rarely run applications maximised.

My previous laptop was a Dell M65 with a 15" 1920x1200 screen. Like you I thought I would be missing out with 120 less pixels. But once I had acclimatised to the slightly different shape it didn't bother me in the slightest.

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Wot no 15" MBR?

Come on Reg, if you are going to start on about 15" HiDPI displays then at least put the Macbook into context with its cousins. I doubt that the 13" MBR is intended to stack up against the awesome Aorus X3, but the 15" MBR can take it on, albeit at a heftier price tag.

PS this comment is not sponsored by Aorus, or even Apple ... but I'm open to offers :)

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these days

a vertical resolution of 769 probably counts as uber-hi-res

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Elephant in the room

Unfortunately, you forgot the one thing that still really spoils all the PC versions. And that is, they all have the same cheap, nasty and multimedia-friendly 16:9 screens instead of a more professional oriented 16:10 screen. The Macbook is therefore still unique in this area.

The laptop manufacturers are all busy scrabbling around trying to turn things around, but the one thing they're yet to click on is that the professional user does NOT want a 16:9 screen. Doesn't matter how many pixels they cram in, the aspect ratio is still rubbish and not geared towards proper work.

Give me a 16:10 option and I'll whip out my credit card and join the queue. Until then, I'll stick with my upgraded 2010 Lenovo laptop. Because it's designed for work, not just for watching movies on.

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Silver badge

Re: Elephant in the room

Hear. Hear.

Like you I need the larger vertical screen to do useful work yet the manufacturers have missed this either because they have been brainwashed by the motion picture industry or they use the cheapest screens they can find.

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Re: Elephant in the room

... that, along with colour accuracy, where most mobile phones put laptops to shame at actually being able to cover sRGB.

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16:9 vs 16:10 and high res.

Back in the spring I moved from my 5+ YO 13" unibody Macbook to a Dell XPS15 with the same QHD screen as the Dell laptop in the article. Based on experience, 16:9 is terrible on a 13" laptop, and I shudder to think how horrid it is if you've got to work with it.

However.

16:9 on a 15" QHD screen feels significantly less cramped than working on a 1200:800 13" screen. There, I said it. 16:9 is OK on a 15"+ laptop with decent resolution. It's no substitute for a reasonable 24" 1920:1200 screen (there are more important things than pixel pitch) but it's certainly a much nicer option to live with than many.

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Anonymous Coward

Progress?

Hmm the T60 I'm typing this on has an SXGA+ (4:3 15" 1400x1050) fleview IPS display, however there was a better IPS available back in the day, the models with the UXGA flexviews were 1600x1200 and these machines date from how many umpty ump years ago?

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Re: Progress?

ThinkPad T60 was available with a 2048x1536 screen - I have one.

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FAIL

Ten years ago.

I got a Fujitsu Lifebook E8010. It has a 1440x1050 display.

I got it via eBay (was as new) and it only cost about 1200-something DM (which in todays money would be about 500 UKP). One reason it was so cheap was probably because it doesn't have a DVD-burner and just a lame Intel GPU.

I think it even came with a docking-station and a 2nd PSU and loads of other stuff.

It still works today (one of the PSUs died after a couple of years), though I don't use it very often anymore (and it's on it's 3rd HD, at least - as it's still got PATA, once that HD dies, I will have to see where I get a replacement). It only has 1 GB of RAM - but works great with OpenSUSE and LXDE. Just avoid Java, Flash and the full-text-indexing of Thunderbird...

The relatively high resolution is also nice for keeping a few x-terms open in parallel.

I was shocked when recently I tried to locate a decent 13" laptop not actually made by Apple - most that are cheaper than MBAs also have a crappier 1366x768 or so display.

Those with better displays are even more expensive than mid-level 13" MBPs or come in "strange" form-factors like the Yoga.

It's no wonder Apple are sucking in almost all the profit in that sector.

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I am fairly disappointed that there is not more 4K laptops on the market. Part of the problem is much of the 4k display production is being used for home consumer displays.

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