Next Gen Handheld Screen Resolutions

The next generation of handheld gaming is upon us. The Nintendo 3DS is already on the shelves in Japan and will be hitting the US on March 27th. Sony’s new handheld code named “NGP” is on the horizon as well, although won’t be here until Q4 (Fourth Quarter) of this year (2011).  I have created some mockups to show how the resolution compares between devices. First up is the Nintendo 3DS compared to its predecessor:

Unfortunately resolution has not increased as dramatically as initially expected. Since the 3DS is featuring movie streaming via netflix, you would expect the device to at least get 480 lines of vertical resolution, however the 3DS is only at a abysmal 240p with 400×240 resolution on the top screen and 320×240 on the bottom screen. This is however an improvement over the original DS, and should make details much sharper than anything we have seen from a Nintendo console before.

Even Sony’s last gen PSP from 2005 has more pixels than the 3DS’s top screen (if you don’t count the double pixel density of the 3D screen, or count the bottom touch screen). Here is a comparison shot of all devices:

As you can see, the NGP’s pixel density is pretty extreme, much like apple did when the launched their retina display, Sony has opted to simply double the resolution both horizontally and vertically, which makes running older applications on the new screen a simple matter of pixel doubling. note that by doubling both x and y means that the display is effectively 4x more dense.

So lets compare total pixels for each device:

Nintendo DS: 240×192 (x2 screens) = 98,304 Pixels
Sony PSP:  480×272 = 130,560 Pixels
Nintendo 3DS: 400×240 + 320×240 = 172,800 Pixels  (268,800 if you include 3D Pixels)
Sony NGP:  960×544 = 522,240 Pixels

So there you have the breakdown. Now remember, pixel resolution is not the only factor in what makes games look good. Rendering methods, design, post processing effects, and now with the 3DS, even 3D rendering and more are what make the games look good. Both systems appear to be pushing some breakthrough hardware, it will be up to the software developers to design games that are fun to play and look great.

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