Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

Summary: The display is the single most expensive component of a tablet computer, but it's also important because the display is the primary i/o interface and it determines the quality of the visual experience for every app that it runs.Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies has posted an incredibly in-depth Tablet Display Shoot-Out comparing the displays that ship in the iPad 2, Motorola Xoom and Asus Transformer.

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The display is the single most expensive component of a tablet computer, but it's also important because the display is the primary i/o interface and it determines the quality of the visual experience for every app that it runs.

Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies has posted an incredibly in-depth Tablet Display Shoot-Out comparing the displays that ship in the iPad 2, Motorola Xoom and Asus Transformer. His comparison table summarizes the lab measurements he conducted on the trio of tabs in the following categories:

  1. Screen Reflections
  2. Brightness and Contrast
  3. Colors and Intensities
  4. Viewing Angles
  5. Display Backlight Power Consumption
  6. Running Time on Battery

He concludes that the iPad 2 display beats the displays on two Android tablets quite handily:

The iPad 2 was the clear winner in every category. The Asus Transformer was a solid second, and the Motorola Xoom was way below in last place.

The iPad 2 was the clear winner in every category. The Asus Transformer was a solid second and impressive for a $399 Tablet. The Motorola Xoom was significantly below the display quality of the iPad 2 and Asus Transformer. It is a cheap low-end poorly calibrated display, which is shocking for the most expensive $599 Tablet.

In addition to testing the current crop of tablet displays, Soneira also analyzes three of the most popular iPad rumors:

  • The next generation Tablets will have OLED Organic LED displays. Right now this can be ruled out based on cost and insufficient production volume, especially in the case of the iPad. OLEDs are improving rapidly, but currently they have lower peak brightness and lower power efficiency than LCDs – both of which are very important for Tablets because of their relatively large screens. So, unlikely for the next generation, but undoubtedly coming in the near future…
  • The next generation iPad will quadruple the number of screen pixels with a resolution of 2048x1536. This would undoubtedly be a great marketing move but it’s technically an overkill and comes with a large penalty in cost and performance – requiring significantly more processing power, more memory and battery power, plus lowering the display brightness efficiency. Hopefully display pixels will not follow the same path as the camera Mega Pixel wars – because like them more pixels lowers performance after reaching a certain point. Apple had to double the resolution on the iPhone 3GS because its 480x320 resolution was very low. The iPad is starting with a much higher 1024x768 so Apps hard coded for the iPad 1 and 2 can be rescaled easily by the OS up to the new iPad 3 resolution.
  • An iPad Retina Display – to make the iPad 3 a Retina Display does not require the same pixels per inch (ppi) as the iPhone 4 Retina Displaybecause it is typically held much further away from the eye, whose visual sharpness is based on angular rather than linear resolution. The iPad is typically held 15-18 inches away as opposed to the iPhone 4’s 12-15 inches. As a result, to meet the 300 ppi Retina Display specification made by Steve Jobs at WWDC for the iPhone 4, an iPad Retina Display would need only 240 ppi. So an iPad Retina Display could start anywhere above 1862x1397 pixels. That is still a major overkill that carries a significant performance and cost penalty – so it would be primarily a marketing ploy.

Read the full Tablet Display Shoot-Out, it's a great read.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility

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19 comments
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  • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

    I don't think higher screen resolution for the iPad would just be a marketing tactic at all. Given it's use as a reader it often spends its time very close to my face and it is practically the only device that I still use that seems "pixelly".

    That said, I understand some of the tradeoffs involved so it may still be a while before we see changes to the iPad's resolution.
    SlithyTove
    • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

      @SlithyTove
      I agree, you can easily see pixelation in rendered text on the iPad. This could partially be amended with sub-pixel rendering (which the iPad does not do), but still the iPad has the lowest pixel density among similar devices.
      Scrabbler
  • Considering the source

    Considering the source of this article, I'm not surprised at the conclusion. Biased from the beginning. No thanks, you can keep your Apple (I'll refrain from using the words I normally use to describe Apple); I'll take anything other than Apple.
    roteague
    • RE: Considering the source

      @roteague [b](I'll refrain from using the words I normally use to describe Apple)[/b]

      Like you also said [b]Biased from the beginning.[/b]

      We get it - you do not like Apple or Apple products but I notice that nowhere in your post did you refute anything Jason wrote. You simply took a swat at him and moved on.
      athynz
      • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

        @athynz

        Well, how about this. Instead of just testing products that are slightly below the ipad in display, how about testing Samsung's zippy new Galaxy tab or the Hp touchpad? There's still no excuse for having really pixelated letters when using the ipad.
        business owner
    • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

      @roteague This sounds nice as long as you are not talking about a Dell computer. They have the worst track record for being hacked. Some even say there ip numbers are known before the computer is even sold.
      Rebos69
      • I am sensing that you are posting FUD

        @Rebos69
        as you have a bias against Dell systems. I would have to assume that you likely work for a PC competitor of theirs.

        :|
        Tim Cook
  • Will consumers "settle"?

    This article demonstrates the dilemma facing iPad competitors. Every other article on ZDNet is about how non-Apple "tablets" cost too much. Over and over, we're told that they need to be under $300 -- and preferably under $250 -- to succeed.

    The problem is, the display is not only the single largest cost item in the device, it is also the most noticeable feature. Consumers who don't know a Tegra from a Snapdragon can instantly spot fuzzy text or dithered 16-bit color. This means that the most effective measure one can take to lower manufacturing cost will also have the largest negative impact on sales.

    Historically these dilemmas get resolved in the computer business by the concept of "adequacy." The thing that wins is the lowest-cost offering that's good enough, where "good enough" is decided by those millions of people out there called The Market.

    So far we have not seen a tablet offering come close to the acceptance rate that the iPad is enjoying. Maybe that's price, maybe it's ecosystem, maybe it's the relative lack of advertising. But one thing we can be pretty sure will not work is the pursuit of a lower price by compromising on the display. It might be safe to shave the size a bit, say down to 7", but giving up color depth or accepting a low ppi is probably going to hurt the sales of a tablet, even if you can sell it for $250.
    Robert Hahn
    • A good question.

      @Robert Hahn <br><br>Something I've been thinking about myself as I see more competitors like Vizio try to enter this space by ditching great features like IPS display, something that gives the iPad great viewing angle. It's a tough spot to be in having to compromise on such important features just to lower costs, especially when Apple is rumored to upping the resolution on the already great iPad screen. Possibly even lowering the cost themselves.<br><br>These are not netbooks were consumers knew about the compromises before buying what was essentially a much <b>'cheaper quality'</b> laptop. Tablets are more personal than personal computers. I think display will be one of the key things that's looked at when making a decision, comparison shopping.
      dave95.
  • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

    Gimme a break here, guys. Your headline says "iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs" and you offer comparison between the iPad and only <I>two</I> of the droid tabs???!
    FeralUrchin
    • Actually there are no better screens in Droid than in Asus Transformer --

      @FeralUrchin: -- it even has IPS, even though with poor colour depth, and layers not glued together to fight parasitic refraction (all of which clearly result in inferior quality of image).
      DDERSSS
      • Was that supposed to be an endorsement?

        @DeRSSS
        Sure doesn't read that way ...
        <i>all of which results in a clearly inferior ...</i>
        use_what_works_4_U
  • Apple seems to own the market.

    Why here in New Zealand I listed a 7 inch Android tablet with all its specs and a review of it from my perspective and Trade Me (the auction site) withdrew the auction and sent me an email saying people might mistake it for an apple product and that is now against it's policy.

    Redid the ad though so hopefully it goes through now.

    Auction number: 386809690 trademe.co.nz
    kurt16
  • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

    Folks I am looking at the same web and pic/video images on my iPad2 and Transformer side by side...<br>The Transformer has a much better image quality than the iPad2.<br>Just MHO......
    rhonin
    • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

      @rhonin
      btw, I was at Best Buy yesterday looking at the Tab 10.1 and compared it to the Ipad2 (displays were side by side) and the Transformer.
      Based on that minimal interaction, the iPad2 came in 3rd....
      rhonin
      • Because you said so

        It's not really fair to let you get away with off-the-cuff comments when the other guy conducted lab experiments with quantitative measurements of brightness, reflectivity, viewing angles, etc.

        How about you get back to us when you have some solid numbers?
        Robert Hahn
    • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

      @rhonin
      OK so we still waiting on your test results. Ray Soneira posted lab results and in depth study and all you have to say is i saw them side by side and the ipad loses.
      illwill112
  • RE: Tablet display shootout: iPad 2 trounces the droid tabs

    Of course. Next.
    james347
  • should compare with the playbook screen

    just my 2 cents, i owned an ipad until i bought the playbook, fell in love and sold the ipad. the playbook screen is amazing, even outside, which i hated whenever i took my dog out with my ipad. yes i played around with the ipad 2 before purchasing the playbook.
    kaylajazzmin