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And the winner for best tablet display of 2011 goes to...?

by George Jones

December 20 2011

DisplayMate declares Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet the winner in lab tests pitting it against the iPad 2 and Kindle Fire.

For many years now, DisplayMate has established itself as an expert resource for analyzing, testing, and evaluating large- and small-screen displays. In recent years, the company--under the direction of founder Dr. Raymond Soneira--has begun evaluating display quality for tablet devices. 

In a report released today, Soneira reveals the results from lab tests where DisplayMate analyzed the displays of Apple's iPad 2, Amazon's Kindle Fire, and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet. All three screens use IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology, which offers wider viewing angles, better image contrast, and faster response times than the less expensive displays used by most other tablets.

These tests were unable to identify a clear-cut winner amongst the three tablets' displays, but because the Nook Tablet was the leader in more categories, Soneira declared it the winner in overall display performance and picture quality.

Other conclusions: 

  • The iPad 2 is an excellent display, and came close to winning. "What is impressive is that the iPad 2 is still delivering top display performance close to what many predict is the end of its product cycle," Soneira writes. 
  • The Amazon Kindle Fire was clearly the inferior display of the three, although in most categories it placed just behind the Nook Tablet and iPad 2. DisplayMate's tests revealed two major flaws: incredibly high reflectance levels (70% higher than the iPad 2 indoors), and inferior image performance in the tablet's Gallery native image viewer that only provides 16-bit color. According to Soneira, the latter flaw could be theoretically fixed with a software update. 
  • The Nook Tablet has the lowest reflectance of any tablet DisplayMate has ever tested. It's 28% less reflective than the iPad 2. 

Earlier this year, DisplayMate staged another tablet shoot-out ptting the iPad 2 against Acer's A500, Motoroloa's Xoom, Asus' Eee Pad Transformer, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab. Some interesting findings from that test were: 

  • All of the tested tablets had a "reduced color gamut, which produces images with less saturated colors." According to Soneira, this is an intentional trade-off made to "increase screen brightness, power efficiency, and battery run time." 
  • All of the tested tablets had unsatisfactory ambient light sensors and automatic brightness control. (No surprise to any tablet user.)
  • All of the current 1280 x 800 Android 3.1 tablets actually have only 1280 x 752 available pixels because 48 pixels are reserved for the system bar and navigation buttons.

More granular results, specifications, and details can be found on DisplayMate's site

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