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Display Quality: Color Gamut

Apple's iPad 2 Review: Tom's Goes Down The Tablet Rabbit Hole
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Gaming on a PC is arguably more fun when you have a good display to match, but that also holds true for anything you do on a tablet. I don’t like to rely on subjective opinions in order to evaluate the quality of a screen, but there is almost no way to benchmark the IPS panel on Apple's iPad 2. On the desktop, we have programs like CalMan and ColorEyes to test a monitor’s performance, but these programs don’t work on mobile operating systems. Even if they did work, iOS doesn’t honor ICC profiles.

No program currently exists to test the performance of a tablet's LCD panel, which is why I spent the few weeks last month creating a custom program. The whole process is a little complex, but briefly, I’m measuring the color gamut at the display’s native settings (native gamma and white point) with a Spectracal NIST-certified i1Pro.

Apple iPad: LCD Color Gamut

Apple iPad 2: LCD Color Gamut

Even though mobile operating systems don't honor ICC color profiles, native color management does occur at the hardware level. When a GPU sends 10 different hues of blue to an LCD only capable of displaying three, the subpixels display the closest matching color. So in a way, smartphones and tablets behave like they’re using relative colorimetric rendering (for more information read our printer paper benchmarks).

Apple hasn’t really changed the technical performance of its iPad 2's IPS panel. The contrast ratio is better thanks to deeper blacks, but honestly, I’m actually a bit surprised at the low gamut volume. It’s about what you get out of a cheap TN-based LCD. Most people won’t complain because Apple sets the saturation too low, while increasing gamma and contrast. This makes color accuracy a bit harder to discern. However, if you’re a photographer who’s fussy about color, you’ll want to reconsider using the iPad 2 as a field tool. Compared to a notebook, you’re losing a lot of detail in blue shadows and midtones. This, in turn, causes some detail loss towards the magenta border in highlights as well.

Understand that these gamut measurements carry a few assumptions. First, we're disabling dynamic brightness because it doesn’t allow us to get an accurate (or reproducible) measurement of the display’s potential. Second, brightness is set to the highest value. If you don't use the same settings, your color gamut is going to look smaller than what we're showing here.

Apple continues to using a 1024x768 LCD display with 132 PPI (pixels per inch). So, the size of the individual RGB subpixels hasn't changed when we examine them under a microscope. Though, for some odd reason, the shape of an individual subpixel looks different. I suspect that Apple is using another manufacturer for the LCD panels in the iPad 2.

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  • 3 Hide
    Yuka , June 16, 2011 4:46 AM
    What about adding other tablets in the mix?

    The XOOM could be a good choice, or the Asus Transformer.

    Cheers!
  • 7 Hide
    acku , June 16, 2011 4:49 AM
    We'll get to the others soon enough, but it's difficult to talk about other tablets without talking about Apple products.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
  • 0 Hide
    Nintendork , June 16, 2011 5:15 AM
    Samsung Galaxy 10.1 anyday.
  • -6 Hide
    gidgiddonihah , June 16, 2011 5:24 AM
    Here is the article where all the Apple fanboys start to tear this article up :) .
  • 3 Hide
    gidgiddonihah , June 16, 2011 5:27 AM
    Oops, sorry for the poor grammer :) . Posted without rereading...

    Here is an article that Apple fanboys would be glad to rip up.
  • 2 Hide
    Tijok , June 16, 2011 5:37 AM
    gidgiddonihahHere is the article where all the Apple fanboys start to tear up .


    Fixed it for you. ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    Benihana , June 16, 2011 5:55 AM
    Still no HDD expandability? No thanks. I'm not rich.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 6:36 AM
    Disagree.
    Like most computer guys like myself, adding an ipad won't make us to pack our PC/Mac to our closet. But again, mistakes like Microsoft or Linux, the "most computer guys on earth" are actually just a small group in total.
    For example:
    i've been teaching my 80 years old grandma to use pc to download, install and play simple games for years, no success. then she learned how to find/download/install/play many games after few days playing with my ipad.
    my 5 years nephew reads/plays/watch cartoons all on ipad now, she didn't turn on her pc for weeks.
    For myself, i uninstalled all my online video, movie client applications from my laptop, as I found watching these on ipad is much comfortable.

    Yes I still do my works on my pc, mostly in my office. At home, now the only thing force me to turn on my pc is to play world of warcraft
    I mean, who says ipad can't replace anything?
  • 3 Hide
    acku , June 16, 2011 7:33 AM
    joeyluDisagree.Like most computer guys like myself, adding an ipad won't make us to pack our PC/Mac to our closet. But again, mistakes like Microsoft or Linux, the "most computer guys on earth" are actually just a small group in total.For example:i've been teaching my 80 years old grandma to use pc to download, install and play simple games for years, no success. then she learned how to find/download/install/play many games after few days playing with my ipad.my 5 years nephew reads/plays/watch cartoons all on ipad now, she didn't turn on her pc for weeks.For myself, i uninstalled all my online video, movie client applications from my laptop, as I found watching these on ipad is much comfortable. Yes I still do my works on my pc, mostly in my office. At home, now the only thing force me to turn on my pc is to play world of warcraftI mean, who says ipad can't replace anything?


    I'd actually argue that in your case you're not replacing a PC, you're augmenting it. Granted, there will be others like your nephew and grandmother who can use an iPad as their primary device.
  • 8 Hide
    damianrobertjones , June 16, 2011 7:45 AM
    May I simply say, "thank you" to Toms for writing a well thought out objective, honest and practical review of thr iPad2. Instead of getting carried away you've hit the nail on the head.

    P.s. I use an Acer W500 and I still struggle to justify why i have it.
  • 5 Hide
    Maziar , June 16, 2011 9:19 AM
    Good too see you guys are writing about tablets.Hope this trend continues and we can see reviews of more tablets :) 
  • 2 Hide
    Marcus52 , June 16, 2011 9:45 AM
    In my opinion, the tablet is a fad that will go away when everyone finds out they are very cool looking toys that really don't add anything to what you can do.

    Oh, don't get me wrong; I think they'll make their permanent mark on the smart phone and laptop scenes, the devices that really fit into people's lives - but the tablet is too limited and too clumsy in actual use.

    Certainly, they have their niche uses - as book readers, like the Kindle, for example, but as something that will actually replace anything, I think not. Lots of coolz, little practicality.

    ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    VVV850 , June 16, 2011 9:59 AM
    What about light bleeding? I mean, the number of Ipads 2 that have this issue is staggering and has to be included in a review
  • 2 Hide
    molo9000 , June 16, 2011 10:33 AM
    Marcus52In my opinion, the tablet is a fad that will go away when everyone finds out they are very cool looking toys that really don't add anything to what you can do.Oh, don't get me wrong; I think they'll make their permanent mark on the smart phone and laptop scenes, the devices that really fit into people's lives - but the tablet is too limited and too clumsy in actual use.Certainly, they have their niche uses - as book readers, like the Kindle, for example, but as something that will actually replace anything, I think not. Lots of coolz, little practicality.

    They don't "add anything to what you can do", but they do certain things much better than other devices.

    Reading this article on my iPad while sitting on a sofa was certainly much more comfortable than reading it on my desktop or laptop.
  • 0 Hide
    phraun , June 16, 2011 11:07 AM
    molo9000They don't "add anything to what you can do", but they do certain things much better than other devices.Reading this article on my iPad while sitting on a sofa was certainly much more comfortable than reading it on my desktop or laptop.


    You need a more comfortable computer chair. =)
  • 4 Hide
    damianrobertjones , June 16, 2011 11:07 AM
    Reading this article on a 108" projector screen was a lot more comfortable... :) 
  • -1 Hide
    altoidman85 , June 16, 2011 11:14 AM
    molo9000They don't "add anything to what you can do", but they do certain things much better than other devices.Reading this article on my iPad while sitting on a sofa was certainly much more comfortable than reading it on my desktop or laptop.


    You should have taken the money you spent on your ipad and bought a more comfortable desk and chair for your desktop. Then a few cases of beer.
  • 1 Hide
    brendonmc , June 16, 2011 11:48 AM
    Spot on. Even Microsoft recognized that Windows Mobile applications had to be compatible with the full versions. Unfortunately there just wasn't the hardware to make it run....well....
    Oh, and using a stylus to type sucks.

  • -4 Hide
    jdamon113 , June 16, 2011 12:05 PM
    This is Boring, just like a tablet.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 12:27 PM
    I only justify having a tablet for my girlfriend, who's work place (Hospital ER) will not allow laptop use during her down time, to browse or chat w/ me. But they do allow them to read books, or e-readers, so she has a nook color running Cyanogenmod7, so i guess the onl ytime a tablet is useful to us is when a laptop strictly isnt allowed.
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