Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Qualifying and quali-dieing resolutions

PocketPCs currently have VGA screens. Palm OS enthusiasts wait eagerly for the first VGA handheld and expect a smooth transition. The change from Lores to Hires was a more-less easy one-pixels were doubled and bitmaps could be preserved. However, it looks as if the switch to VGA will be a hairy one.
The problem that arises with every resolution change is legacy-there are literally hundreds of legacy applications that need to be adapted before the new toy will become useful! The adaption of LowRes apps to highres apps was easy because one could pixel-double all the graphics(a pixel became a 2x2 rectangle). However, the switch to VGA will not be as easy, as the factor is a number with a decimal part. Since one cannot divide a pixel in two(to accomodate for the 1:1.5 Ratio), special trickery is required. Handera already did this on their 330 and was pretty successful with it-as long as users didn't want any games and applications didn't contain any bitmaps!
When bitmaps got involved, the show started to get funny. Aliasing effects, uneven borders, lines not hitting each other and not beeing straight, the unit had loads and loads of ugly things on board for its users. The same thing is currently happening with the Qool QDA700. When an application is optimized for the device, all problems stop dead though.
Lets conclude for now-VGA is possible on the Palm OS, but it will definitely lead to compatibility problems. Application developers will eventually adjust to the new screen system-but the transition will not be as easy as the last few have been. The next natural resolution for the Palm OS would be 960x640-but who makes such a LCD? Eventually we need to take the step-the sooner, the better!
What do you think?


Anonymous Steven Fisher said...

I don't think this is going to turn out to be a big deal at all. With 16-bit color and the ARM chipset, Palm OS devices will have more than enough power to do smooth 1.5 bitmap scaling.

Yes, scaling can be quite smooth. It isn't going to look native, but I bet it looks good enough that it isn't jarring.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment. Apart from games the scaling is quite tolerable. If you are building a game, on the other hand, you will want to tune it form the new resolution. Hopefully you've built on a framework that will make this work relatively painless...

7:28 PM  
Blogger PhillyPocket said...

The problem is scaling only make things look more or less "ok". I know this would not satisfiy me. What I want are applications that take advantge of the additional resolution. I want more information in the space available. I want graphics optimised for the greater resolution.

And unfortunately, developers rarely move as fast as you want them to, to address that small subset that want to take advantage of what the newest features paid for.

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

320 x 320 centered on the screen

Problem solved!

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a 640 x 480 tablet with the dot pitch of current devices but can run 160x160 apps at 3x, can scale 320x320 apps at 1.5x or leave them centered, either way you get a 480x160 VG area to play with.

Standard apps work cause the dev made them work, things like Docs2Go and other big devs will have something quick and then somebody writes a codediver like utility and we're all happy enough.

Maybe somebody will write a real photo tool for it too.

Doesn't matter though, cause there aren't any POS liscencees with the balls and/or money to blow on a risky device.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi you all,
all of the comments made above have reason to them. However-a quick word to the guys wanting to have apps run in smaller windows:
A LCD cannot adjust its resolution. If you draw the 320x320 App in a 320x320 Window, it will be so small that it is barely useable. In addition, the digitizer of current Palm Os handhelds isn't accurate enough for this...
Best regards
Tam Hanna

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Steven Fisher said...

Reading through these comments, it seems like most of you are stuck in the 80s or something.

1.5x scaling on modern monitors is more than "okay." And with both 1x and 2x images available to sample from, it should turn out even better than what an LCD panel can do.

Yes, it's better to have images tuned to 1.5x. Nobody's going ot disagree with that. But saying it will be ugly or is impossible is just sensationalism.

(Although it *could* be ugly. We'll have to see how much effort PalmSource puts in. I'm just saying it doesn't have to be.)

5:01 PM  
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