If Apple can squeeze 960×640-pixels into its four-inch iPhone retina display, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that the iPad 2, rumoured to be looking at a northern-spring 2011 release, could well see the highest resolution display on any portable device.

Rumours are growing that the iPad 2 will feature a 2048×1536-pixel resolution LCD panel, four times the pixels in the original Apple iPad that launched in April 2010.

While the numbers are impressive, given the size of the screen – expected to again be 9.7-inches as Apple CEO Steve Jobs has given an emphatic “no” to anything smaller – it isn’t quite “retina”-grade as the iPhone 4.

According to AppleInsider, the pixels per inch or PPI for that resolution in a 9.7-inch display is around 260, which isn’t quite the level at which the human eye can’t distinguish individual pixels.

However, if it does happen, the iPad 2 will likely leave most of the Android tablet devices behind. At present, the majority of Android tablets are only 800×480-pixels, the maximum resolution supported by the Google operating system although 1280×800-pixel tablets will be available before the end of Q1 2011.

Delivering that level of resolution being rumoured for the iPad 2 will enable it to give clearer detail not just in text but also in diagrams and photos, making the new device a real textbook replacement, ideal for schools and universities. However, it also raises other issues, particularly with performance.

With so many pixels to handle, Apple is rumoured to be upgrading the processor in the iPad 2 to a high-performance multi-core ARM Cortex A9 chip as well as the SGX543 quad-core graphics and video accelerator chip.

The SGX543 is developed by Imagination Technologies and was first showcased at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in 2009.

The latest in a long line of rumours is that the iPad 2 could see a northern-spring 2011 release.

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