Apple famously claimed that its iPhone 4 has a “Retina Display,” thanks to its pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, which the company said exceeds the 300 ppi that the human eye can distinguish.
Many have taken issue with that precise number… but there’s certainly a strong case to be made that at a certain point it’s hard to pick out pixels with the naked eye. That number is higher for devices that are meant to be held close to your face, like smartphones. And it’s lower for devices that are further away like laptop screens… or TVs. That’s why a 4K TV is probably overkill unless you either get a TV with a really big display or plan to sit very close to your 32 inch set.
But what about devices that are meant to be closer to your eyes? Today’s best virtual reality headsets have displays that range from about 450 to 600 pixel per inch… and honestly, it’s not quite good enough. So Samsung is aiming higher.
The company is reportedly working on a standalone VR headset with a 2,000 ppi display.
When I tested the Google Daydream View virtual reality headset with the Google Pixel XL smartphone last year, I figured slipping a phone with a 534 ppi screen into the headset would provide a pleasant VR experience.
I was rather disappointed with the results. While some games and immersive videos were fun for a few moments, the screen door effect always started to bother me after a few moments. Since VR headsets like the Daydream View and Samsung Gear VR use special lenses to adjust the focal distance, I could actually see the lines separate one pixel from the next, which made me feel like I was looking through a screen door when watching movies or playing games.
A higher-resolution display could help address this issue, and others.
Some folks also experience dizziness or nausea when using virtual reality headsets. But Naver says “industry sources” claim that these issues start to go away once you go higher than 1,000 pixels per inch (although I suspect screen refresh rates and other factors are also important).
Naver reports that Samsung’s new high-ppi headset will be a standalone version of the company’s Gear VR headset, which means it’ll have a built-in OLED display rather than relying on a smartphone display.
There’s no word on how much the new device will cost, when it will be available, or if it will be compatible with Google’s new Daydream standalone headset platform or if it’ll use Samsung’s own app ecosystem.
In fact, it’s not entirely clear if we should classify this report as a leak or a rumor at this point. But if Samsung isn’t working on a 2,000 ppi display for virtual reality now, I’m pretty sure that it’s just a matter of time before Samsung or another company starts to do so.