Forum Question: Can Any Printers Replicate a Retina Display?

I will be upgrading my computer the end of the summer. Retina displays are incredible, but if I cannot print what I see on the screen, they are not compatible with what I do. A similar problem exists with sharing photographs with people who do not have a Retina display.

Comments: 4 Responses to “Can Any Printers Replicate a Retina Display?”

    6/24/12 @ 1:10 am

    Actually, printers have been better than displays for decades. For instance, a typical non-retina display might be 72 or 96 DPI (dot per inch). Laptop screens are higher. Retina displays could be around 300 dpi. I’ve never calculated it.
    But by comparison, even a cheap printer will print photos at 300dpi. Most will do 600dpi on nice glossy paper like you would use for photos. Some so as much as 1200dpi.
    So printers have had “retina” or higher resolution for years.
    In fact, if you force a printer to use a low DPI like 72, it will look blocky. But it is in fact the same resolution as a typical non-retina screen. We are just used to seeing that resolution on a screen, and a higher resolution on paper. That, and a screen looks better because it is lit, rather than reflecting light in the room.
    When you share a photo with someone else, of course it will not look as good on their screen if you have a better display. But they still have the same photo — they can enlarge it and zoom in on portions of it if they like. A similar situation to if you sent someone a 4×6 print instead of an 8×10 print of a photo. It is still the same photo. But you’ll be looking it at on a better, more detailed, display. Nothing you can do about that unless you want to send them a new MacBook Pro :)

      6/24/12 @ 7:09 pm

      B&W film is way beyond anything in color. Typical color photographs (Not digital prints, but Kodak stuff) was about 250 DPI – that is beyond what the human eye (absent a magnification) can see. So if you just want to print the retina display, just about any decent color printer today (Iaser or inkjet) qualifies. I have forgotten the figures for B&W, but it is way beyond color.

    Jack Larson
    6/24/12 @ 9:23 am

    Many thanks. Just the answer I wanted.

    10/26/12 @ 1:19 pm

    That is true but… not true.
    Printers have a theoretical DPI, that measures how many small “drops” of ink can address on an inch of paper. That DPI numbers are higher than a Retina display, it is an evidence.
    But once on paper, an “small drop” became a “very big drop” due to the absorption of paper, —and a phenomenon called “capillarity”— paper “sucks” and “expands” drops up to twice or three times the area of the original drop.
    Take a magnifying glass and look carefully a pattern of pixels on a Retina Display, and then look the same printed on a good quality paper.
    Pixels are always perfect squares, brilliant, sharp.
    Drops are fuzzy, imperfect, not so defined.

    In fact, I cant find any printing paper (newspaper, magazine, or even art book) that can be fairy compared to a Retina display.

    Make your own test, and see yourself.

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