iPhone 4′s 960×640 pixel screen as camcorder monitor?
Packing a 960×640 (o.6 MP) resolution into a screen that small means it is 326 pixels per inch. Unless you have perfect vision, reviewers have said that you’ll just not be able to make out individual pixels. This is a very high resolution for any portable LCD screen, and when shooting HD video, a high resolution monitor is critical.
How high is the resolution of the iPhone 4′s Retina display? Engadget put it like this:
The advertised pixels per inch (PPI) of the iPhone’s display is 326, but what does that really mean? Well the calculated PPI of our 1080p 60-inch Kuro: it’s a meager 36 — luckily we don’t sit 12 inches away from it. In fact a 1080p TV could only be 7-inches if it wanted to match that PPI. A 60-inch HDTV would have to have a resolution of 16815×9500 to match it — gasp — which is four times the horizontal resolution of 4k! Speaking of which, a 4K display could only be 14-inches. But the iPhone isn’t like an HDTV; its main purpose is to display text, not video. So what about a 20-inch PC display, how many pixels would it need to match the PPI of the iPhone? Try 5600×3500, which is about double the horizontal resolution of WQXGA at 2560×1600.
The problem in this comparison is that most video assist LCD monitors may start with a high number, like 800 or 960, but really crap out in the other aspect- like with only 240 pixels on this $400 monitor. If that’s the case, what’s the point? You have to spend $1500 (list) to get a 1.2 MP screen, higher resolution than Apple’s iPhone 4. So why not use the $299 iPhone your camera monitor?
It’s the video input that’s the problem. The device is designed for video output from the dock connector, not input.
Aside from the built in camera, there is no way to get video into the iPhone. While there may be some secret hack, you can be sure that any app developed to take advantage of any digital loophole to enable video input would not be approved by Apple for the app store.
So you’d be looking at a Jailbreak, and a Cydia download at the least. That dramatically limits the potential market to a developer. Smaller market means much smaller ROI. The investment would be serious because, taking any HD output from a camera (HDMI or SDI) would require serious horsepower to crunch the incoming data stream down into something the hardware could handle, in near real time, without killing the battery or overheating the CPU and killing the phone.
Yea, you can pretty much count on it never happening.
But, that doesn’t stop some enterprising developer from OEMing the screen that Apple uses and building hardware around it. Possible? Yes. For $299? Hell no. You should expect $1500+ price tag and then, I’d rather have a 7″ or larger display for that price.
So you can pretty much count on it never happening.
ProLost wrote about Apple offering the hardware API to developers so that, potentially, someone could create an HDMI to iPod converter cable to get the video in, and then software to provide scopes, aspect ratio guidelines, etc. But Prolost announcement was about iOS 3.0. We’re now using 4.0 so I think there just hasn’t been the interest… but now the screen is the highest resolution thing out there, so maybe, just maybe, there might be enough of the pieces in place to make it happen.
Fun to consider, eh? :)