Fast Company

6 Ultra HD Videos Test Your New iPad's Retina Display

Pictures are neat on Apple's new Retina display, but super-high-def video is the real magic. Since cameras haven't caught up to displays, clips in 2048p are scarce, but we found some--from NASA and others.

If you brought your iPad 3 home raring to exploit the potential of its fantastic Retina display, you might find yourself without many options. Sure, there are a host of apps that take advantage of the display that Apple claims exceeds the perceptive capacity of the human retina--and naturally the OS itself displays at the full 300 ppi--but these options are hardly flashy. The real magic is ultra-HD video, the likes of which makes that Solaris on Blu-ray on your flat screen look like Dukes of Hazzard reruns on a Zenith Space Command. 

Unfortunately, few devices are built to capture images at a resolution better than HD, or 1080p--display tech has outpaced digital imaging tech. So until consumer video cameras catch up with Retina, take a breath and enjoy this lag before the masses repopulate YouTube with cat videos so crisp the whiskers look tangible.

The first place to look for extreme-high definition video is, of course, NASA. Few organizations have the government money and brainpower necessary to construct prototype cameras of unparalleled resolution with, as of yet, totally untapped commercial potential. How better to roast your eyes out than by watching the Solar Dynamics Observatory's 2048p videos of the Sun on a viewing device that some say will burn a hole right through your khakis?

Or, if you just can't get off on space porn without a little moon act, here's a choppy eclipse:

If footage of the life-giving furnace at the center of our solar system doesn't give you enough to sink your teeth into, try The Goddard Space Flight Center "Loop." It's basically a commercial for the metaphysical beauty of modern science.

If you don't have the public money to spend on experimental space-cameras, you're best bet for making extremely high-quality video is by generating it on a computer. While astronomers may be among the only ones with money to develop their own next-generation video cameras, any animation studio with processing power to spare can boost their pixel count. Here's an animation made by the Blender Institute made at 2048p.

Now, let's say you've neither a render farm nor a NASA camera. Don't worry: There's still hope. If you invested in a digital camera that can take still images at 2048p, you can make a delightful little time-lapse movie. Sure, most of these videos focus on less-than-riveting affairs of the cloud world, but give it a few months and see if a whole new YouTube genre of iPad-optimized time-lapse photography doesn't spring up to fill the void of Retina-ready content.

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5 Comments

  • Bobthedeathlord

    The iPad 3 doesn't support videos in its native resolution... you can upscale, but that doesn't do anything... its like when you convert a regular .mp3 file to a .flac file. The file is way bigger, but you're not adding any quality so really it is just pointless.

  • Justin O'Neill

    As far as I know YouTube scales down 2k and 4k videos to 720 even on the new iPad.  

    Another place to look for ultra high resolution footage is anything shot on the RED One, RED Epic, and RED Scarlet cameras.  They all shoot 4k and above.  Timelapse is another source, the series of stills is usually anywhere from 14MP to 21MP (6k) so as long as it is finished at 2k or 4k it will look amazing on the new iPad.I've done some experimenting with footage from our RED Epics and I can confirm that the iPad can play full resolution 2048 footage!  You can download some 2k clips and try it yourself here: http://camerarentalz.com/2048-...

  • Sean Millon

     Gee, I confirmed the iPad plays 2048 footage by upscaling a 1080 vid and playing it on the iPad.