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Display Quality: Color Gamut

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: A Second-Gen Android Tablet
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Most tablet vendors don't have the resources needed to manufacture their own LCD panels. This is not the case with Samsung, which is in the display business.

Its Galaxy Tab 10.1 features the company's home-grown 1280x800 Super Plane to Line Switching (PLS) panel. Under a microscope, the subpixel structure looks similar to S-IPS, but that's where the similarities end. This is easily the best display we've seen on a tablet, and you're about to see why.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: LCD Color Gamut (S-IPS)

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 as if they’re using relative colorimetric rendering. For more information, read Tom's Hardware Benchmarks Inkjet Printer Paper!

Most tablets still deliver less color quality than the cheap TN panels we see on the desktop. Not so on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Overall, color quality is pretty close to what you'd expect from a decent desktop monitor, thanks to Samsung's Super PLS technology. Without going into too much detail, Super PLS is a minor evolution of IPS that offers better viewing angles, color quality, and higher brightness.

Compared to IPS-based tablets, maximum white luminance is roughly the same. However, Super PLS seems to be capable of achieving a deeper black, which results in a higher contrast ratio.

These gamut measurements are accompanied by a couple of caveats. 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.

If the Galaxy Tab 10.1’s Super PLS display has one weakness, it’s color temperature. At 8900 K, the colors appear far too cool, which is particularly evident as white backgrounds appear with a slightly bluish tint. The low gamma helps mask the problem with other colors.

Understand that gamma doesn't affect black or white performance, but it does affect midtones. If gamma is set too high, the midtones appear too dark. If it's set too low, they're too pale. Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft all recommend a gamma of 2.2. It's an arbitrary value carried over from the NTSC standard, but it was originally chosen because it allows colors to appear more natural in slightly dim environments.

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