Regarding an Retina Display iMac
So Apple finally did it, they released the Retina MacBook Pro which everyone has been clamoring for. And of course the resolution was double the old one. Cult of Mac suggested Apple didn't need to double the resolution to receive "Retina" resolution, they claimed a smaller resolution bump would suffice. This is completely wrong, even the new Retina MacBook Pro doesn't qualify as a "retina" display as they explain here. However, what qualifies as a "Retina Display" will not be discussed in this post, but I'll address the subject soon, stay tuned.
Apple also needed to double the resolution because they only make UI elements in OS X at a standard size and a 200% size (@2X). All Macs have roughly the same PPI, this allows OS X to only use one set of UI resources. The 11.6" MacBook Air has a slightly higher PPI to accommodate for the smaller screen and the 27" iMac has a slightly lower PPI. But the PPI's are all close enough use the same UI resources. If Apple instead of doubling the resolutions of the Macs made a smaller increase the @1X UI resources would look painfully small, and the @2X resources would look comically big. Therefore Apple has chosen to go with doubled resolutions.
Of course this gives Apple a challenge, increasing the resolution by this much is not an easy job, thus they chose to start with the 15" MacBook Pro which had the highest PPI of all Macs making it the easiest choice.
In the comment sections of tech blogs you might have seen people claiming creating such high PPI displays is impossible and years away from now, news flash, it isn't.
I did the math and that viewfinder (click the link) has a PPI of 5374. So now we know getting the right PPI isn't the problem, of course you get lower yields with Retina displays but its not what's hindering Apple.
Alright then, what is hindering them? Ah, of course, the GPU! I've stumbled over tons of comments claiming the Macs don't have enough power to drive a Retina display. For god's sake! The iPad can drive a 2048x1536 display, and it's just a tablet! The integrated Ivy Bridge GPU can drive displays up to 4096x4096, the 11" MacBook Air can drive the 2560x1400 Thunderbolt display and the old 15 and 17 inch MacBook Pros can run TWO Thunderbolt displays, PLUS the integrated display at the same time! Thats a resolution of 7040x3960, that is insane!
So power is aplenty. A Retina iMac would clock in at 5120x2880, which is a piece of cake power wise.
This leaves us with two reasons for why the Retina displays are hard to accommodate, cost and battery. The move to Retina with the new iPad meant Apple had to make some big design changes, more specifically to the battery, which consumes the vast majority of the device's inners. The same goes for the MacBook Pro, a huge amount of the insides are consumed by battery in it as well. And of course you can't have missed the price hike, it now starts $2199.
There has been some rumblings that a 13" inch Retina MacBook Pro is only a few months away, I believe this is true, and I also believe the rest of the Mac line will get "Retinized" within a year. And I ALSO believe the iMac is the next one in line. Why? Well it doesn't have to deal with the battery limitations that the MacBooks do, and also check this out. Take a look at the iMac score. Surprisingly low, huh? Could the performance hit be credited to a Retina display? Well, I think so. It's certainly a long shot, and I might have to eat my own words, but one can hope, right?
Hope you enjoyed the post, please correct me if I'm wrong somewhere, and I look forward to your responses! :)