Blurred fonts on the Prime



#25


#26

We use freetype2 so there definitely is a very capable rendering engine in there, hinting is on, and a quality TTF. We are also not able to provide pixel strikes for every font size due to size limitations, nor would that really resolve the problem.

Turning on subpixel rendering made basically no visible difference! I did explore this heavily. Again, the fact that we are using 16 bit color and a very low density screen probably negated the potential improvements. Throw into that the fact that subpixel rendering increases memory use by x3...

Shifting the characters to have the main vertical legs line up on pixel boundaries just will not work well with this lower pixel screen. The spacing of the characters was very visibly noticeable and looked very strange and was very distracting.

However, the font rendering that is in your unit right now is tuned for the emulator. I assume that will be tuned for the hardware at some future point in a similar way. That being said, I have very little experience working with freetype2 and if you consider yourself an expert, or have some tips or anything I'd love to hear about them.

Here are two renderings (first is potential, second is current). Please let me know your thoughts.

TW

Edited: 30 Oct 2013, 10:24 a.m.


#27


#28

Just one follow up here - the font used is Droid Sans (fallback full for coverage). There is no gamma correction happening at all. Nor adjustment for the background vs foreground colors.

Feel free to email me directly and I'd love to chat about fonts and rendering. Just my name at hp.com if you don't have it already.

TW

Edited: 30 Oct 2013, 1:29 p.m.


#29

On a low pixel density display like the Prime,
why smooth the fonts at all?

I'd think nice crisp 1 or 2 pixel wide fonts,
ie: no aliasing labeled example in the original post,
would look so much better?


Edited: 31 Oct 2013, 9:10 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


#30

+1

d:-)


#31

#32

It actually doesn't, especially with some of the various complicated characters used in some languages.

TW


#33

I want a fourth font text: [extra large font], for easier operation with fingertip


#34

Quote:
I want a fourth font text: [extra large font], for easier operation with fingertip

<rant>YES YES YES!!! Just look at the big, beautiful size of the HP-41 digits... then the HP-48's much smaller digits... then the even shorter HP 50g digits... and now the microscopic Prime digits. Getting old is bad enough without having to squint at these Incredible Shrinking Digits!

Most annoying of all is the fact that as the digits gets smaller, the screens get bigger. DUMB DUMB DUMB!!!

Sure, having a smaller font is great when you need to squeeze a lot of stuff on the screen, like hi-res graphics or program listings or pretty user interfaces... but when using it as a CALCULATOR (hello? remember calculators?), especially in RPN mode, having nice big numbers would be awesome!</rant>


#35

Quote:

<rant>YES YES YES!!! Just look at the big, beautiful size of the HP-41 digits... then the HP-48's much smaller digits... then the even shorter HP 50g digits... and now the microscopic Prime digits. Getting old is bad enough without having to squint at these Incredible Shrinking Digits!

Most annoying of all is the fact that as the digits gets smaller, the screens get bigger. DUMB DUMB DUMB!!!

Sure, having a smaller font is great when you need to squeeze a lot of stuff on the screen, like hi-res graphics or program listings or pretty user interfaces... but when using it as a CALCULATOR (hello? remember calculators?), especially in RPN mode, having nice big numbers would be awesome!</rant>


I am a bit surprised that the command line does not have the option to "zoom in" -- the calculator uses freetype2 after all. Shouldn't the font be scalable in an easy fashion? Perhaps my lack of knowledge of fonts is why I am oversimplifying things. My idea is to enable the users to "zoom in" on the screen to enable easy editing. Imagine double-tapping the command line and it switches into an equation editor type of environment where the font is really large.

There's a lot of room for improvement in the user-interface department.


#36

Quote:
Imagine double-tapping the command line and it switches into an equation editor type of environment where the font is really large.
That would be SO nice. Compare the real fonts sizes currently available on the Prime's Notes & Info editor, with the three Home and CAS sizes available ("Small", "Medium", and "Large"), with a few even larger ones faked in the bottom part of this image:

(I don't know why HP calls the font sizes "10" through "22"; those numbers do not correspond to the point sizes. Pixel height perhaps? The font sizes shown below the blue line are real.)

Look at that bottom number! Wouldn't that be awesome for ordinary CALCULATOR type work? If the digits look too big, please note that they are SMALLER than the HP-41's digits!

Of course, touch-screen gestures to allow pinch/zoom could make the Home & CAS display infinitely adjustable to suit the user's preferences. THAT would be the ultimate in user friendliness.

Just thinking out loud here.

#37

We will prove the opposite with the WP 43S. Just you wait and see.

d:->


#38

The WP34S Prime version, methinks? Could this be in the works...


#39

Quote:
The WP34S Prime version, methinks?

True and false. Just look for 43S in this forum and you'll learn.

d;-)


#40


#41

Thanks for the demonstration. For comparison, here are the original pictures of six months ago:

The screen will be significantly smaller than pictured.

d:-|


#42


#43

Thanks for your open words. As you mentioned, it's all in a very early state, and I promise to improve the fonts as far as suitable for a scientific calculator. Elevating the height (level?) of the crossbar of the A is done most easily.

I don't see, however, how any anti-aliasing or grey-scale gymnastics improves the appearance of these strings in the real world. Maybe it's caused by my aging eyesight, so I thank you in advance for (intense) enlightenment.

([:-)


#44

The display used by the DIY543 hardware can't support Grey scale. It is monochrome, and the maximum full frame update rate is about 20 Hz, so it can't do it very well by sequential frame method either. Since it is a true monochrome display, it has no problems with color subpixel aliasing.

The pixel pitch is 173 dpi, and the bitmap fonts I have rendered from Truetype font look fairly decent (IMHO). That's totally unrelated to Walter's font.

#45

Quote:
Your typography is just terrible.

Yes and no: It is in my opinion not more "terrible" than the typography of (e.g.) technical drawings with a lettering stencil.

Besides some important aspects of font design (cf. the DIN font) we should not forget that we are talking about a pure numerical calculator with some "boundary conditions" (multi-lingual letters; grid for grouping of numerals etc.), not a computer algebra or typesetting system. So, the yardstick seems to be more the display of a scientific instrument (or a technical drawing) than a textbook.

Martin


Edited: 1 Nov 2013, 12:31 p.m.

#46

Quote:
The screen will be significantly smaller than pictured

I disagree. The physical display of the DIY543 hardware is about 43 mm wide, but your image is only about 27 mm wide (as viewed in the Web browser on a Galaxy Note 3 without zooming in).


#47

I stand corrected. I did presume a 'normal' labtop or computer screen, not a smartphone or how it is called now.

d:-/

#48

One other thing that doesn't help is that the LCD is mounted 'sideways'. If you look at the screen turned into portrait mode, the legibility over a range of incident angles is much better than when viewed holding the calculator normally.


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