Apple's new iPad display is better than most HDTVs

Apple's new iPad display is better than most HDTVs

Summary: Display expert Raymond Soneira has put the new iPad screen on the test bench and found that it's not just the best tablet display, it's "much better than most HDTVs, laptops, and monitors."


The new iPad display isn't just the best in mobile, it's one of the best screens on any device.

The new iPad display isn't just the best mobile display, it's one of the best displays on anything.

Some people think that Apple's new iPad Retina Display is a game-changer. Others say that, yes it is better but its "isn't quite like the jaw-dropping jump," they'd been led to expect. So, which is it? Dr, Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate, the world's leading display and display tuning company, has put the next-generation iPad to the test bench and found that the "The display on the new iPad decisively beats (blows away) all of the Tablets we have previously tested.

How so? Well, for starters, the new iPad really does meet Steve Jobs' Retina Display specification. To do that, "an iPad Retina Display only needs 240 ppi (pixel per inch) - and it has 264 ppi. So according to Apple's own definition, [which is based on 20/20 vision] the new iPad is indeed a true 'Retina Display.'"

Soneira asks "Do you really need all of that 'Retina Display' resolution and sharpness?" He answers, "In many cases no." But, the 2048x1536 3.1 Mega Pixel Retina Display actually will make a noticeable visual improvement when you're looking at text, which "will appear much sharper, but it will make the most difference whenever there is tiny text and fine graphics, which you often see when surfing the web (like the front page of The New York Times) or in a complex spreadsheet. Then there is a tremendous visual difference between the new iPad and the iPad 2 or existing Android Tablets. You won't have to zoom in as much or switch to Landscape mode as often when reading tiny web content. Full screen high quality photographs with lots of fine detail will also stand out and take full advantage of the new iPad's High Definition screen."

Moving to the test bed, Soneira found "all of the images, especially the text and graphics, were incredibly and impressively razor sharp. In some photographs, that extra sharpness made a significant difference, especially in close-ups and when fine detail like text was photographed." The new iPad's color display was also much better. The "new iPad has a virtually perfect 99 percent of the Standard Color Gamut (a 38 percent improvement over the iPad 2). The colors are beautiful and accurate due to very good factory calibration - they are also "more vibrant" but not excessively so or gaudy like some existing OLED displays." Indeed, "with some minor calibration tweaks the new iPad would qualify as a studio reference monitor."

iPad apps to show off the new Retina Display

Perhaps the third generation iPad's most impressive feature is its battery life. Soneira explains, "There are 4 times as many pixels in the display that need to be kept powered. Also 4 times as much memory and processing power is needed for the images. In addition, the light transmission of the LCD decreases as the pixel density increases, so a brighter Backlight is necessary. In fact, the number of Backlight LEDs has roughly doubled (from 36 to an estimated 72 to 82), so the Backlight power has approximately doubled. Since the display normally consumes about 50-60 percent of the total Tablet power, the new iPad needs at least a 50 percent larger battery. In fact, the battery increased from 25 to 42.5 watt hours, a 70 percent increase. … At the Middle brightness slider setting, which is closer to typical user settings, the running time was 11.6 hours, which is almost identical to the iPad 2, indicating that Apple has used an appropriately larger battery (and confirms Apple's 10 hour claim)."

At the same time though Soneira notes that "While the enhanced resolution is important, it's also a technical overkill that parallels the Mega Pixel wars of digital cameras. More pixels are better up to a point, and then they wind up adversely affecting both performance and manufacturing costs. ... Still Apple has managed to pull everything together nicely so that in the end it all performs quite well. Just as surprising is that Apple has managed to keep the retail price the same as the iPad 2." Soneira also thinks there's room for improvement with screen reflectance, the ambient light sensor, and display controls.

Still, when all is said and done, Soneira thinks that "Apple has taken the very good display on the iPad 2 and dramatically improved two of its major weak points: sharpness and color saturation - they are now state-of-the-art. Our lab tests and visual tests agree with Apple's claim that the new iPad has "the best display ever on a mobile device" so we have awarded the new iPad the Best Mobile Display Award in DisplayMate's Best Video Hardware Guide. But there's more…the new iPad's picture quality, color accuracy, and gray scale are not only much better than any other Tablet or Smartphone, it's also much better than most HDTVs, laptops, and monitors.

Related Stories:

New iPad's amazing display: I was blind but now I see

New iPad Retina Display is a game-changer

New iPad not a must-have, but an amazing display

First impressions of my new iPad: it's absolutely gorgeous

Does the new iPad suffer with heat issues?

Topics: Tablets, Apple, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility

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  • Cool

    I want it but I won't buy until I really need it.
  • Still in the fog.....

    and the point of this article is....?

    A tablet is not a tv and as most TV's are a completely different layout (4:3 vs 16:9/10) I fail to see the article point.
    and text seems to be the biggest benefactor?

    • The iPad also cost twice as much as my 42" TV

      So not sure how comparing the 2 is "apples to apples"
      William Farrel
      • A 42" flat screen HD TV for $250.00 based on the list price of 499.00

        for the iPad? Wow!!! Where do you shop:)

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • I was basing it on a list price of 599

        and you just have to be able to know a good sale when it comes along.

        Still an iPad screen and plasma TV screen are 2 different technologies and uses, so still an odd comparison to be true.
        William Farrel
      • Wilie the Ferret changes goal posts

        @James Quinn
        See? He didn't mean that.

    • You don't get it?

      Do you sit 1 foot away from your TV? Try it. How close are you to a tablet screen? If you are still not getting it, you need higher resolution to maintain clarity the closer your eyeballs get to the screen which is also true for zooming in.
      • Exactly

        So why compare a device intended to be viewed at 9-11 feet (the design of my tv room) to a device to be viewed at 9-15 inches?

        Don't get it.
      • Re: Exactly

        rhonin: [i]So why compare [an HDTV] intended to be viewed at 9-11 feet .. to [an iPad 3] to be viewed at 9-15 inches?[/i]

        Because, for a single viewer wearing earphones, an iPad 3 viewed at 12" is [i]functionally equivalent to[/i] (and better IMO) than a 42" stereo HDTV at 10 feet.

        I've compared watching HD films on an iPad 3 and headphones with an HDTV, and I personally prefer the iPad 3. Despite the lack of bass, the iPad provides a more immersive experience than the TV and the display is better.

        (My test was with an iPad 3 that I borrowed from a friend. Personally, I'm still getting by happily with an iPad 1. If iTunes Australia starts renting and selling more HD films then I might consider upgrading in a year or so: by then, my iPad 1 will be three years old and that's all I ask of a $650 device.)
  • and yet

    a microscope is better than a pair of glasses, but would you need it for every day use?
    The Linux Geek
    • Depends...

      If you plan on reading sure. This includes digital book, news, magazines, web pages etc. High def games sure. Looking at and possibly editing pictures? Why not. I think when one stops and thinks what they will likely be doing with a tablet "reading" either email, web pages, or books is likely a very large part of their interaction with a tablet:)

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • Depends...

      I think most people will find "reading" in one form or another is what they will be doing on a tablet. What do I do when surfing the web or on Facebook? Read of course. What about email? Yup I'm reading. What about other digital media like books and such? Again I'm reading!!! Arrrrrggggghhhh! Can't escape it! Also with still images I can view them better and with the updated tools edit them as well:). Then there is games. A few now but more, many more will come.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • Way down there

      [ul][i]need it for every day use?[/i][/ul]I do. I'm 1,254 feet tall. To me, human beings look like ants. Without a microscope, I can't tell William Shatner from Angelina Jolie.
      Robert Hahn
      • i think you could

        i am sure william shatner would look like a bigger dot than angeline jolie
      • Chuckle - maybe not

        When seen from above, AJ's chest enhancement lends to a width (front to back) that likely rivals Bill's.......
  • All on the comfort of a 9" Screen

    The iPad 3 display is very nice but comparing video playback I see little or no difference and even some apps stating they have updated to work with the retna display look no different. Text is crisper and the App icons are crisper but that is about all I see.
  • This article is a joke, right?

    IPad has better sharpness and battery life than a 50" HDTV!!!
    The same is true for (say) iPod nano. Does it make it "better" than HDTV?

    I find video playback on the iPad grossly inferior to that on large 1080p TV.
    But its battery life is better :)
    • True but try carrying and or reading on your TV:)

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Re: True but try carrying and or reading on your TV:)

        Why would I?
        What is the point of comparing different kinds of devices?
        One can also say that iPad has better screen (and battery life) than most cars. And you can't use a car for reading or take it with you on a bus. And it costs 50 times more :)
      • And many cars runs longer then 10 hours

        before needing to be "recharged". so definatelly better for reading then an iPad.
        William Farrel