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The A0, A1... A5 paper sizes are defined with a length to
width ratio of sqrt(2), so that when you tear one sheet into
two the smaller sheets have the same length-to-width ratio.
A big drawback of non-windowed operating systems for
tablets (like the one on the iPad) is that they make it
to interact with more than one app at a time.
For example, it would be convenient to copy something
from a webpage to a document, by opening them both side
by side and dragging stuff from one to the other - but this
isn't possible with only full-screen apps.
You would rarely need to interact with more than two
applications at the same time, so I think a split-screen
side-by-side view would suffice in the vast majority of use
Of course, much of the time you would still want to run
your applications full screen. This would require most app
writers to support two different modes - full screen and
split screen, which is extra work.
A tablet computer which has a screen with a length-to-
width ratio of sqrt(2) would eliminate this problem,
because now when the user enters side-by-side mode, the
operating system can simply shrink the app uniformly to
take just half the screen.
It's true that fonts will become smaller, but only by about
29%. If the app uses at least 11 point font while in full
screen, I think text would still be readable (just a little
under 8pt) while in side-by-side mode.
The aspect ratio 1.414 is between standard (1.333) used
by the iPad and all, and widescreen (1.78), so it would be
quite natural to use. While watching widescreen video
there will be some letterboxing (but not as much as on a
standard screen), and for standard aspect video there
would be black bars on the sides (but not as much as on a
A real A4 sized display would be about 14" across, but this
could be a smaller device as well, as long as the ratio is
sqrt(2). I think a good resolution to have is 1154 * 816
(very low error rounding to integer pixels).
For people who aren't obsessed with office supply stores and don't understand paper sizing (and Americans, who use stupid paper). [In No Particular Order, May 07 2010]
Not sure how soon it's coming... but the demos are nice. [Jinbish, May 08 2010]
||I think the general idea of standardising screens to sqrt2
ratio is a good one, especially for windowless displays where
there's no menu bar. So [+].
||Oh, and I second the motion to make the Americans conform
to rational paper sizes.
||//people who aren't obsessed with office supply stores// You can't just assert the existence of entities without giving some evidence that they exist. In fact, evidence that they could physically exist would be better than nothing!
||8pt font is not exactly easy on the eyes.
||I'm certain I recall an A4 screen that was available as part of the early Macintosh range. My recollection is of a screen that could be physically rotated to either landscape or portrait format
||Personally I don't like uniformity or conformity. My vote is for randomly Quadrilateral screens.
||[MB] //make the Americans conform to rational paper sizes//
sqrt2 is rational?
||I'd prefer a spherical computer screen, please.
||<topologist>What's the difference?</topologist>
||I know the idea specifies "non-windowed" OS, but I find the whole idea a bit moot - I've had a great little Fujitsu tablet since about 2004 with a touchscreen (8.9 inch). A wee bit small - but very useful for reading.
||The notion that you only have one application open at a time is a bit daft... and earmarks the iPad out as an evolution of "a big phone".
||//What's the difference?// The location of [goldbb]
||[xenzag]: You recall correctly. There was the Apple Portrait Display, a vertically oriented monitor that showed a full, pixel-accurate greyscale page at 72DPI - American letter-sized, as I recall; the Apple Two Page Display, which showed two side by side; and the Radius (third party) Pivot monitors, which swivelled from landscape to portrait orientation and signalled the video card to switch modes automagically. The latter functionality is still missing from modern pivoting displays as far as I know.