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We are creating a product which has an small embedded OLED display (64 x 48 pixels). We would love to support Chinese in this product and wonder what is that smallest resolution that would be needed to support Chinese writing?

I assume simplified Chinese would give the best result?

Currently in our product, which supports English only, our smallest font size is 5 x 7. I'm pretty sure Chinese symbols will need more resolution.

  • It seems for recognizable Chinese characters, the resolution should be no lower than 7*7. I'm using my phone so I can't go check, you may download the fonts mentioned in this page. – Stan Dec 2 '15 at 10:11
  • I think 16 * 16 is needed as least. hefuliang.cai.swufe.edu.cn/EXAMPLE/PROG0069.htm – songyuanyao Dec 2 '15 at 10:15
  • @Stan - I don't believe 7x7 is correct as counting the lines in some of those symbols its more... around 12. – TheGrovesy Dec 2 '15 at 10:30
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    I just did a search for 'nintendo gameboy chinese symbols' and found this interesting link: link. It suggests that 16x16 is normal but it can be achieved using 11x11 or 12x12. @songyuanyao - I have just seen your reply. Unfortunately my company has blocked that weblink! but it looks like I am close to an answer. I will check out that link at home. Thanks for the help. – TheGrovesy Dec 2 '15 at 10:36
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    @TheGrovesy there are a few actual fonts with 8x8 pixels in the link of my first comment, and I did see some samples before. I describe them as "recognizable", because it may be the limit to native speakers (with context). For 12x12, that can render a character rather clearly. – Stan Dec 2 '15 at 12:00
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8x8: Lowest necessary resolution for Chinese characters

As far as I know, the recognizable lowest resolution for Chinese characters, is about 8x8 pixels. The following paragraphs are rendered by the Special SimSun font's smallest 8x8 bitmap glyphs (Note: "Before Revision" is rendered by the Windows Vista's default simsun.ttc; "After Revision" shows how Special Simsun improves the quality). I believe native speakers are able to read these 8x8 resolution characters within the context, though a few are difficult to be recognized individually.

Special SimSun

"The Special SimSun font is revised based on simsun.ttc and mingliu.ttc contained in Windows Vista: First, it replaces ugly bitmap glyphs of Windows Vista's simsun.ttc with those of Windows XP's, and adds a few other bitmap glyphs; Second, it completes the bitmap glyphs in CJK EXT A (6852 characters), and supports the GB18030 character set (27533 characters) – especially, some low-resolution bitmap glyphs are included so that characters can be rendered in the bitmap way under 6pt–21pt for 96dpi; Finally, all bitmap glyphs are revised one by one, so the rendering quality is improved." — By the author of this font

It would be remiss of me not to mention the 7x7 resolution font: 超宋体 (Super Song) made by 夏夏@bbs.themex.net. However, this font is simplified Chinese only, and we can imagine it will be even more difficult to read than 8x8 resolution characters, so my conclusion for OP's question is "about 8x8".

12x12 would be moderate

The following paragraphs are rendered by the 方正像素12 font with its 12x12 resolution glyphs. Almost every character can be recognized without context. Of course, compared with the 16x16 resolution, it has to lose strokes even for many simplified characters; however, yes, native speakers may feel relaxed to read them now.

方正像素12

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Stan's answers are great, but assume NATIVE speakers. As a newbie, and assuming GRAYSCALE (I personally find it hard to read anything lower than 16x16)... If you are using an OLED display that is only capable of monochrome, I think newbies will need MUCH higher (at least 24x24).

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