Tablets Screen Display Fight: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Rules Over Other Android Tablets, Beats iPad 2

July 28, 2011
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If Android tablets and the iPad 2 had a boxing match over which device has the best screen display, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 would knock out the other Android tablets and leave the iPad 2 in black and blue. That is how we would creatively state what Dr. Raymond Soneira, chief of DisplayMate Technology Corporation, found after conducting a series of tests involving Android tablets and the iPad 2.

According to Soneira’s report of his comparative evaluation of 4 Android tablets and the iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 ranks at the top spot in terms of screen display. Soneira’s assessment of the Motorola XOOM, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, Acer Iconia Tab A500, and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and Apple iPad 2 produced the following rankings:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  2. iPad 2
  3. ASUS Transformer
  4. Acer Iconia Tab A500
  5. Motorola XOOM
Overall Assessments1
Apple iPad 2 Motorola XOOM ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Acer Iconia Tab A500 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Image Quality Good Subdued Good Subdued Good
Color (Photos and Videos) Too little color Too little color Too little color Too little color Too much color
Contrast (Photos and Videos) Too much contrast Too little contrast Good contrast Good contrast Too much contrast
Color Shifts with Viewing Angle Small Large Small Large Small
Overall Display Assessment2 Excellent Mediocre Very Good Fair Excellent
Overall Grade3 A– C B+ B– A–
Overall Rank4 2 5 3 4 1

1 This is a simplified version of Soneira’s overall assessments of the test tablets.

2,3,4 Applies only to the current generation of tablets

Impressive and Outstanding Display with a Shortcoming

According to Soneira, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has “an impressive, potentially outstanding display”–and he is not making up that assertion either. The results of his comparison test back it up. But, while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 delivers the best display, the tablet’s “obnoxious levels” of colors seem to be overkill and too much.

Display screen on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Soneira thinks that Samsung did it to “overcompensate and blatantly standout from other mobile LCD displays that have subdued color.” What Samsung advertises as “amazing color, radiance, and clarity,” Soneira practically affirms–albeit guised as a criticism.

For Soneira, the iPad 2 provides better color picture quality and accuracy than the other tablets in his comparison, despite the iPad 2’s subdued colors. Soneira says that when it comes to color on tablet displays, “too little is a lot better than too much.” This seems to imply that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives too much color, even more than the iPad 2 does–but the generosity of colors doesn’t necessarily give the Galaxy Tab 10.1 an edge. Giving too much, in this case, is actually a shortcoming for the Galaxy Tab 10.1, according to Soneira.

Display screen on the Apple iPad 2

According to Soneira’s report, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has no user-controlled mechanism for lowering the factory-set color levels, which are high by default, and when viewing photos or videos with strong color content, the extreme color levels can become intolerable and can strain the eyes. Such a “sledge hammer approach to color” can be easily fixed by a software update, which Soneira recommends–either from Samsung or Android developers–that will provide color picture controls so that users can adjust color levels accordingly.

Test Categories

The results of Soneira’s lab-based comparison tests are neatly reported in a comparison table. The tablets were tested and compared according to 6 test categories: screen reflections, brightness and contrast, colors and intensities, viewing angles, display backlight power consumption, and running time on battery.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 showed results indicating the best performance among the test tablets, while the Motorola XOOM was the worst performer overall.

Display screen on the Motorola XOOM

Screen Reflections

When a tablet screen reflects 10 to 15 percent of light, the display on the screen becomes harder to view or read. To compensate, the screen’s brightness can be increased, but at the expense of battery power. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was found to reflect only 8.2 percent of light coming from all directions, and reflected only 10.5 percent of a narrow beam of light shone on the screen to measure mirror reflection. The Samsung tablet had the lowest percentage of screen reflections among the other tablets measured.

Brightness and Contrast

The brightness and contrast tests showed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to have an “excellent” measured maximum brightness (peak luminance for white). The tablet display’s black level at maximum brightness and its contrast ratio were found “very good for mobile.” The Galaxy Tab 10.1 also received the highest contrast rating (57) for high ambient light, and a grade of “A-” (“Very Good”) in the test for screen readability in bright light. Having the highest contrast rating among the other tablets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 also has the best screen readability even with bright light from the surroundings.

Colors and Intensities

In terms of white color temperature, the iPad 2 and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer (both tablets’ white color comes closer to the D6500 standard) fared better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 whose white was determined to be “too blue.” The color gamut test found each test tablet to have a color gamut color that was “too small.” The Galaxy Tab 10.1 earned a rating of “Good” (contrast is too high) for the intensity scale and image contrast test; only the Acer Iconia Tab A500 received a “Very Good” rating for this test. The Galaxy Tab 10.1’s gamma for the intensity scale was rated too high. The Galaxy Tab 10.1’s color gamut and intensity scale values account for saturation that is “Too High” and colors that are “Too Strong.”

Display screen on the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101


Display screen on the Acer Iconia Tab A500

Viewing Angles

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 showed the least percentage decrease in brightness (52%) when viewed at a 30° angle. All tablets, however, were found to experience a “Very Large Decrease” in brightness when viewed from that angle. Yet, despite the decrease in brightness, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 registered the highest brightness (224 cd/m2) when viewed from a 30° angle. Both the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 have a contrast ratio deemed “Very Good for Mobile” when viewed at a 30° angle. All tested tablets exhibited small shifting of primary colors when viewed at a 30° angle, with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 registering the least JNCD (Just Noticeable Color Difference). The Samsung tablet also registered the least JNCD (i.e., least color shift) when a “reference brown” color was viewed from a 30° angle.

Display Backlight Power Consumption

Backlighting consumes battery power. Soneira explains that a tablet’s backlight set at maximum can eat up about 51% of battery power on the average. Among the tablets tested, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, sadly, eats the most power (4.7 watts)–while the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer consumes the least (2.1 watts)–when the backlight is set to maximum brightness. The Galaxy Tab 10.1’s Relative Power Efficiency of 3.3 watts means it is also the least power efficient.

Running Time on Battery

Despite having a battery with the largest capacity (7000 mAh) among the other tablets in Soneira’s test, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 ironically has the shortest running time on battery. With display set to “Always On”, brightness at maximum, Airplane Mode turned on, and no applications running, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 exhausted its battery power only after 4.8 hours. When the brightness setting is set to medium, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 ran a bit longer (6.6 hours), which Soneira deems acceptable. The iPad 2 has the longest running time among the other tablets in the batch, with up to 11.8 hours of battery life at medium brightness.

Dungeon Defenders FW Deluxe on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (photo credit: Mac Morrison/Flickr)

Conclusion

In sum, Soneira’s comparative evaluation found the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 having superior display to the other tablets. Although the iPad 2 performed comparably in some of the tests, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 performed better than the iPad 2 in most of the tests. However, although indirectly consequential to display quality, power efficiency and battery running time are two areas where the Galaxy Tab 10.1 loses some appeal.

The tablet’s screen display quality is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a tablet. Although Soneira’s comparison tests used objective measures for determining the best display, a tablet buyer’s subjective experience, perceptions, and personal preferences can sway the buyer’s judgment.

What tablet do you currently use? What can you say about the quality of its screen display?

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