Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If you want a tablet with the best display, that’s not the Google Nexus 7, a display expert claims. The 7-inch tablet which is garnering mainly positive reviews may have difficulty showing all the detail in bright imagery, according to the Raymond Soneira at DisplayMate.

Soneira, the same display specialist who challenged Apple’s initial claims of a “retina” display on the iPhone 4, is now taking aim at Google‘s prize tablet. In his test of the Nexus 7 display, he found its resolution, viewing angle, contrast ratio and color all to be top-notch. However, when it came to grayscale, it fell far short.

Soneira discovered the Nexus 7 reduces the intensity of bright image content by up to 25% meaning the brightest areas of an image are only about 75% as bright as they should be. That translates into some detail lost in the brightest areas of an image, and Soneira says the drop-off is “quite substantial.”

On the image (this shot of a Typhoon Guchol posted by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center), we could see that some of the detail in the whitest areas was only visible on the Samsung, although the Nexus 7′s higher-resolution display 1,280 x 800 to the Tab 2′s 1,024 x 600 made things sharper overall.

The issue became clearer viewing this grayscale pattern. Looking at the strip of white and light-gray squares on the right side of the screen, the Nexus 7 makes them all look whiter than on the Galaxy Tab 2, with the 1% box appearing identical to 0%. You can see the issue in the photo below (100% brightness, Nexus 7 on the right). The problem persists even when the brightness on both tablets is turned down to 50%.

How serious is this problem, though? We didn’t notice it at all when we reviewed the Nexus 7, and most reviews have been glowing about the tablet and its 7-inch IPS (in-plane switching) LCD screen.

Although Google is the brand on the Nexus 7, Asus makes the tablet. Soneira suspects Asus as responsible for the issue, as the manufacturer is responsible for the problematic grayscale. A software update may be able to correct the problem.

We contacted both Asus and Google about Soneira’s findings, but neither party has yet responded. We’ll update this story if they do.