Future MacBook Pro screens may kill off the bezel completely

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple is researching technologies and techniques to eliminate the bezels on the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro once and for all.




After years of gripes about the thick bezels on MacBook Pro screens, Apple cut them down with the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Actually, Apple even nudged the top of the screen up so that, apart from one central area, the screens are higher and the top bezels are slimmer than ever.

Yet there's no pleasing some people. That one central area is called the notch, and it's been objected to as if it's eating into the display area like it does on iPhones.

For certain, objections to the notch led people to develop apps that hide it -- by increasing the apparent size of the bezels. That showed Apple.

But maybe Apple listened too, because new research suggests that someone in the company has gone "challenge accepted."

"Hybrid architecture for zero border display," is newly-granted patent that's concerned with entirely removing bezels -- or at least appearing to do so.

The detail of the patent looks at rows and columns of pixels, so it's conceivable that by "no border," Apple is referring to some system of packing them closer together. However, the key part of the patent makes it clear that the intention is to make a display that is not curtailed by the reasons we have bezels now.

"Common types of display panels include active matrix display panels where each pixel element, e.g. light emitting diode (LED), may be individually driven to display a data frame," begins the patent, "and passive matrix display panels where rows and columns of pixel elements may be driven in a data frame."

"Both active and passive matrices have been proposed for the fabrication of tiled displays," it continues, "where display panel dimensions are larger than the limitations imposed on substrate and equipment size restrictions."

The screen still has to fit on the device, but it shouldn't be limited by how the edges of that device normally impose limitations.

There's a reason Apple starts off the whole patent by referring to both active matrix and passive matrix displays, too. It's because this is part of the answer, and Apple refers to the proposed solution as a "tile-based" display.

"In some embodiments the tile-based display panels may include an arrangement of pixel driver chips to drive local matrices of pixels in a local passive matrix (LPM)," says the patent.

Detail from the patent showing one approach to a
Detail from the patent showing one approach to a "tiled display" that would cut out bezels


"Compared to direct drive approach, where every pin of the pixel driver is connected to one LED, " it continues, "the LPM arrangements in accordance with embodiments may significantly reduce the silicon area associated with the pixel drivers, and the panel peak panel current."

Maybe the entire screen could use this "local passive matrix" approach, but it's more likely that it be literally an edge case. A MacBook Pro could have a regular display for the great majority of its surface area, but then passive matrix sections where there are now bezels.

The patent then concentrates on methods of staggering rows of pixels to achieve the highest quality, but it doesn't directly address the issue of quality. It doesn't seem likely that a passive matrix surround could offer the same vibrant performance of a regular main display, but perhaps it could be used for menu bars.

This is not the first time that Apple has explored ways of reducing bezels. That's plainly true since the company as achieved smaller ones in its current displays, but there are also previous patents.

The new patent is not even the first time Apple has looked at using a passive matrix portion of the display, as in 2020 it applied for a patent on just this approach. But then as early as 2013, Apple was investigating how to repurpose bezels to do more.

This new patent is credited to six inventors. They include Hopil Bae, whose previous related work includes a patent for a sliding body and flexible screen for the iPhone.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 841member
    I'm fine with bezels on my computer.  I don't really care how big they are.  They can be huge, tiny, or nonexistent.

    But that stupid notch has to go.  It's a no-brainer to give up screen real estate to get rid of it, because screen with a notch in the middle of it is useless anyway.  It was an incredibly stupid move by Apple.

    I'd rather give up the camera entirely.  Most users tape over it anyway, so it's not like anybody is actually giving up anything of value.  If you need a camera, there are plenty of external cameras on the market.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    michelb76michelb76 Posts: 386member
    Sounds cool as long as this one doesn't crack when there's a crumb in between the screen and keyboard.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,102member
    darkvader said:
    I'm fine with bezels on my computer.  I don't really care how big they are.  They can be huge, tiny, or nonexistent.

    But that stupid notch has to go.  It's a no-brainer to give up screen real estate to get rid of it, because screen with a notch in the middle of it is useless anyway.  It was an incredibly stupid move by Apple.

    I'd rather give up the camera entirely.  Most users tape over it anyway, so it's not like anybody is actually giving up anything of value.  If you need a camera, there are plenty of external cameras on the market.
    “Useless” 
    “most users”
    LOL
    roundaboutnowmr. h
  • Reply 4 of 11
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 841member
    darkvader said:
    I'm fine with bezels on my computer.  I don't really care how big they are.  They can be huge, tiny, or nonexistent.

    But that stupid notch has to go.  It's a no-brainer to give up screen real estate to get rid of it, because screen with a notch in the middle of it is useless anyway.  It was an incredibly stupid move by Apple.

    I'd rather give up the camera entirely.  Most users tape over it anyway, so it's not like anybody is actually giving up anything of value.  If you need a camera, there are plenty of external cameras on the market.
    “Useless” 
    “most users”
    LOL

    The. Stupid. Notch. Blocks. The. Menu. Bar.

    How is that anything but useless?  There are ways to move the menu bar down and turn the 'screen' space beside the notch into a bezel, but that's less than ideal.  Sure, it's better than the notch, but it wastes more screen real estate than putting the camera in a proper bezel would.

    And yes, most users.  I haven't seen a MacBook Pro in years that didn't have tape (or a torn post-it note) over the bezel.  For iMacs, it's usually just an entire post-it note with something written on it.  But the camera is covered, because almost nobody trusts a camera pointing at them all the time.  It used to be camera shutters, but those break screens now.  Entire offices have virtually every camera taped.  The only computers without tape are the few people who do videoconferences all the time and maybe a dedicated video conference computer.

    Users working from home who have to do video conferences typically tape the camera and have an external cam that they cover or unplug when it's not in use.

    Maybe my clients are just particularly privacy conscious.  But they almost all cover cameras.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,102member
    darkvader said:
    darkvader said:
    I'm fine with bezels on my computer.  I don't really care how big they are.  They can be huge, tiny, or nonexistent.

    But that stupid notch has to go.  It's a no-brainer to give up screen real estate to get rid of it, because screen with a notch in the middle of it is useless anyway.  It was an incredibly stupid move by Apple.

    I'd rather give up the camera entirely.  Most users tape over it anyway, so it's not like anybody is actually giving up anything of value.  If you need a camera, there are plenty of external cameras on the market.
    “Useless” 
    “most users”
    LOL

    The. Stupid. Notch. Blocks. The. Menu. Bar.

    How is that anything but useless?  There are ways to move the menu bar down and turn the 'screen' space beside the notch into a bezel, but that's less than ideal.  Sure, it's better than the notch, but it wastes more screen real estate than putting the camera in a proper bezel would.
    Do you actually have one? It hasn't once been an issue for me, and I've had my M1 Max MBP since just after launch. Not a single time have I  thought it was in the way. And, if you do choose to put it below the notch (I haven't with any apps yet), it takes up the exact same amount of space had they omitted the notch and extra screen real estate altogether. There are apps to completely disable the extra screen area and make it black — essentially putting the camera in a bezel — if that's what you prefer, so it's really not an issue. Useless, it is not — it's a design compromise with more benefits than not having it.
    mr. hmuthuk_vanalingamcrowley
  • Reply 6 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,143member
    darkvader said:
    darkvader said:
    I'm fine with bezels on my computer.  I don't really care how big they are.  They can be huge, tiny, or nonexistent.

    But that stupid notch has to go.  It's a no-brainer to give up screen real estate to get rid of it, because screen with a notch in the middle of it is useless anyway.  It was an incredibly stupid move by Apple.

    I'd rather give up the camera entirely.  Most users tape over it anyway, so it's not like anybody is actually giving up anything of value.  If you need a camera, there are plenty of external cameras on the market.
    “Useless” 
    “most users”
    LOL

    The. Stupid. Notch. Blocks. The. Menu. Bar.

    How is that anything but useless?  There are ways to move the menu bar down and turn the 'screen' space beside the notch into a bezel, but that's less than ideal.  Sure, it's better than the notch, but it wastes more screen real estate than putting the camera in a proper bezel would.
    Do you actually have one? It hasn't once been an issue for me, and I've had my M1 Max MBP since just after launch. Not a single time have I  thought it was in the way. And, if you do choose to put it below the notch (I haven't with any apps yet), it takes up the exact same amount of space had they omitted the notch and extra screen real estate altogether. There are apps to completely disable the extra screen area and make it black — essentially putting the camera in a bezel — if that's what you prefer, so it's really not an issue. Useless, it is not — it's a design compromise with more benefits than not having it.
    Bang on.

    I don’t even notice the notch. It’s a total non-issue. 
    fastasleep
  • Reply 7 of 11
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,844member
    Firstly if the patent is newly granted then it was applied for before the notch was even public.  Ie Apple challenged themselves.

    interesting idea would take a lot of quality control to get the tiles right but in theory the same tile mass produced could then be laid out-to make every display Apple needs. As tiles get better they roll down in to lower price products. 


    fastasleep
  • Reply 8 of 11
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,102member
    crowley said:
    darkvader said:
    darkvader said:
    I'm fine with bezels on my computer.  I don't really care how big they are.  They can be huge, tiny, or nonexistent.

    But that stupid notch has to go.  It's a no-brainer to give up screen real estate to get rid of it, because screen with a notch in the middle of it is useless anyway.  It was an incredibly stupid move by Apple.

    I'd rather give up the camera entirely.  Most users tape over it anyway, so it's not like anybody is actually giving up anything of value.  If you need a camera, there are plenty of external cameras on the market.
    “Useless” 
    “most users”
    LOL

    The. Stupid. Notch. Blocks. The. Menu. Bar.

    How is that anything but useless?  There are ways to move the menu bar down and turn the 'screen' space beside the notch into a bezel, but that's less than ideal.  Sure, it's better than the notch, but it wastes more screen real estate than putting the camera in a proper bezel would.
    Do you actually have one? It hasn't once been an issue for me, and I've had my M1 Max MBP since just after launch. Not a single time have I  thought it was in the way. And, if you do choose to put it below the notch (I haven't with any apps yet), it takes up the exact same amount of space had they omitted the notch and extra screen real estate altogether. There are apps to completely disable the extra screen area and make it black — essentially putting the camera in a bezel — if that's what you prefer, so it's really not an issue. Useless, it is not — it's a design compromise with more benefits than not having it.
    Bang on.

    I don’t even notice the notch. It’s a total non-issue. 
    Darkvader gonna concern troll...
  • Reply 9 of 11
    digitoldigitol Posts: 268member
    YES!!! Bezel-less and Notch free please! Make me a buyer again. :D
  • Reply 10 of 11
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,844member
    digitol said:
    YES!!! Bezel-less and Notch free please! Make me a buyer again. :D
    Nothing in the patent suggests notch free. Just the artist’s impression. Sure apple have a stack of other patents for that and the screen tech might be part of making screen as a camera real but that isn’t directly covered by the tech. 

    So they could use it and still have a notch or a punch hole. 
  • Reply 11 of 11
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,217member
    There is no denying that Apple was terribly late to packing the most screen possible into the smallest space on laptops. That means reducing bezel size and one would have thought it would be a top priority.

    It's definitely the way to go, as large bezels aren't necessary nowadays and look very dated. Taking them down to virtually nothing is probably an industry goal so expect to see all manufacturers move in the same direction.

    Similarly the chin on the iMac is way past its best in terms of design so the sooner that moves 'all screen' the better. 

    As for notches, I don't have an issue with them on phones but have come to prefer hole punches and pills. On laptops I think it's even less of a problem but can understand why some people don't like them. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
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