Google Nexus 7 bright image compression blamed on OEM incompetence

Google Nexus 7 bright image compression blamed on OEM incompetence

Summary: The Nexus 7 is selling out faster than anyone (including Google) expected but expectations are falling short in one key area: the display.


I'm still digging my Nexus 7 tablet, but switching from the iPad 3 to it accentuates one of its worst traits, the display. And I'm not the only one, hardware problems have been reported with the screen, and Ray Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies notes that it literally stumbles and falls short.

Soneira notes that although the Nexus 7 looks great on paper (1280 x 800 display, 216 Pixels Per Inch, premium IPS LCD), benchmarks competitively (brightness/luminance about 350 nits, contrast ratio about 1,000) and even has a decent color gamut (86 percent versus the iPad 3's 99 percent), but that's where the party ends.

According to his report, images on the Nexus 7 are noticeably washed out, missing highlights, suffering from reduced image contrast, and weak colors. However, darker images look a lot better than brighter ones, which actually tipped him off to the problem: 

The Intensity Scale (often called the Gray Scale) is way off. The display's Brightness fails to increase sufficiently for bright image content, causing bright image detail to be compressed and lost. See the Figure (above) for the Nexus 7 and this Figure (below) to see what the Intensity Scale should look like. The Nexus 7 Display Stumbles and Falls Short both figuratively and literally... There is about a 25 percent compression of bright image content, which is quite substantial. This holds for both the Gallery Viewer and the Chrome Browser.


Soniera adds that some OEMs do this intentionally to boost brightness but blames the Nexus 7 bright image compression on "incompetence by the manufacturer." The good news is that it may (or may not) be correctable with a software update. 

Topics: Apple, Android, Google, Tablets

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  • The good news?

    It "may be" or "may not be" correctable with software?

    This is the good news? The uncertainty?

    Obviously, software controlled devices can "compensate" these things -- as this has been done for ages with any display. But this means something else will have to sacrificed and, there should be proper display calibration software layer in Android to handle this transparently. Or, there will be one Android version for the Nexus 7, another for the Nexus 7.7 etc.
    • fairly typical

      This sentence also evokes the same 'wha?!' reaction. It would be great if zdnet writers actually took some journalism classes.

      "The Nexus 7 is selling out faster than anyone (including Google) expected but expectations are falling short in one key area: the display."

      It doesn't seem like its the display panel itself that is the issue (this is actually the good news by the way). But the uncertainty is whether the software that is controlling it is in a chipset that can't be upgraded or in some firmware/software that can be fixed.
  • OEM incompetence ... approved 100% by Google

    Google approved the quality of the specs and the device produced. Unless the "OEM" diverted from the specs approved, the entire blame is still on Google's side of the court.

    Funny how nobody blames Foxcon when there is a hardware issue with the XBox, Dell computers, HP computers, Apple devices, etc. But with Google, everybody else is to blame but them.

    And BTW, how is ASUS (and all other Android OEMs) feeling now that Google is blaming them for everything? They must be thrilled and happy .... NOT.
  • Blame Google

    The buck stops at the top.

    The display is NOT the only issue with this cheap half-baked product.
    Tim Acheson
    • Half Baked?

      Rage much?
      I am really liking mine and find myself using it more and more in place of my iPad 2 and Transformer for consumptive stuff.
      Any issues aside (have found very few) it is a great buy and a fantastic tablet.
  • Likely software problem

    Look at the black trace on the first graph shown in this article. The scale goes up to 100% of the display brightness. By definition, this is each pixel area turned on as bright as it will go. It is not some fixed brilliance, it is simply the screen brilliance as high as that screen would go. Of course different manufacturers screens will have different amount of lumens at their respective "full on" intensity, but for a given screen 100% represents THAT screen turned full on.

    Now, look at the red trace, and it is obvious that above about 30% brilliance that the pixels are not being turned on as brightly as they are capable of. The black line by definition is what the pixel is capable of. While it may well be true that the amount of drive to each pixel may not be linear, that is relatively easy to fix with a fixed lookup table, and what is certainly true by definition is that the screen brilliance is not being turned on as brightly as it is capable of. In other words, it is not being turned on to the 100% level, so the inherent brilliance capability is not being sufficiently exploited. So, software guys -- fix it!
  • Useless Graph

    The graph includes plots for the new iPad, the iPad 2, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS, but no Nexus 7 data. While granting that my eyesight could be better, I have been extremely pleased with the display quality of my N7, even side by side with an iPad. Some bum units may have been shipped, but nothing seems wrong with the actual design.
    • Agree

      Looking at the same hi-res photos side by side with the iPad2.
      Adjusting the brightness on each, the photos look better on the N7. Sharper, better more realistic color. Photo's taken with a Lumix DSLR.
  • Google Vista, it's official

    How to make your Nexus not suck:

    Video: Nexus 7 touchscreen defect

    Google Nexus 7 Display Problems Reported

    Nexus 7 suffering from screen defects and separation
    • Really?

      The first article is somebody whining about the fact that the screen doesn't change orientation on the home screen. The next two are about the same problem, touch screen issues, which are quite likely the minority. The last one, which has an issue that all LCD monitors face as well as an actual issue, is the only credible one of the lot.

      Are you really trying to make yourself look like an idiot?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • You didn't read the links, did you?

        "Venture Beat's Devindra Hardawar says that at times the device's touchscreen doesn't register inputs while performing data-intensive operations such as updating several apps simultaneously or syncing the tablet with several apps from a phone"

        Second link. Each one of these 4 DISTINCT issues is being WIDELY reported. There was a bumper crop of links for each of them. The most time spent was trimming the list down to discrete issues...

        Reading fail much?
        • I did read the links

          "widely reported" is something that can be used for anything from 50 to 500 to 5,000. And you still haven't told me why the first is even relevant, it's personal preference.
          Michael Alan Goff
          • Now the word is Google has PULLED the 16GB because of massive problems

        • Not Sure

          I think you're taking this a bit too far. Of the jillions of reviews, blog posts, and other online accounts regarding the N7, there is virtually no mention of these issues other than your links and the echoes of this "journalism". This makes me think this is extremely isolated. I remember random stories about iPads overheating and large numbers of dead pixels very common on MBP displays. Making hay out of this crap news is exactly what bottom-feeder journalists and forum trolls love.

          Try to think more than one step ahead.
          • 83,200 results in the past 24 hours for "Google nexus 7 display issue"


            But go ahead, bury your heads in the sand.
  • Does the graph show iDevice problems on lower end?

    Agree with S_Deemer. Having 2 separate graphs does not help in comparison. Moreover it looks like while N7 has 25% loss at higher end, all iDevices except new iPad have 50% loss at lower end. A combined graph showing 0 - 100 for all devices will probably clearly show which device has problem where.
    • Two different issues.

      For the N7, if you command a pixel to "full brightness" you will only get a pixel that is 75% as bright as the display is capable of. All of the iDevices deliver maximum display brightness when commanded to do so. The fact that the iDevices diverge from the standard means that there is a scaling issue. For example, If I command a pixel to 50% intensity, the standard reference says the display should respond with an illumination value of 11.2% (of maximal brightness) . The graphs shows for that iPhone 4 and iPad2 respond with a display brightness of only 10.6% and the iPhone 3GS is about 11.6%

      Keep in mind that both scales are logarithmic The result is that a large divergence near the origin represents a small error in magnitude. For example at 10% of Image intensity the iPhone 4 and iPad2 are only 0.3% below the Standard (0.3% vs 0.6%).
  • The Good News?

    Apple Zealots now have a rallying cry as they face the future of the Tablet Market!
  • The Bad News

    My Nexus 7 stopped working on Day 5.

    Never buy from Google again.
    Quasi Quazy
    • You should pair some limburger with that whine

      My iPad 3 died after three days. But I didn't whine in any forums following an Apple story, I took care of it. I don't really hold it against Apple either.

      I suggest you do the same. Give me your "broken" N7 if it's really such a burden -- I'm very intrigued and wish I could find one available.