Samsung Galaxy Tab S display review: Simply the best tablet display

by Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies

June 24 2014

Samsung provided DisplayMate Technologies with pre-release production units of the Galaxy Tab S tablets so that we could perform our well known objective and comprehensive display lab tests, measurements, and analysis. We found that the OLED displays on the Galaxy Tab S are truly impressive..

The key element for a great tablet has always been a truly innovative and top performing display, and the best leading edge tablets have always flaunted their beautiful high tech displays. But tablet displays are more challenging to produce because their large screens are 3 to 4 times the size of a smartphone. Up until now tablets have been almost exclusively LCD based – so while the Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones are flagship models for Samsung to show off its latest and greatest OLED displays and display technology, there haven’t been any OLED tablets until now (except for a single 7.7 inch OLED model launched in 2012).

With the continuing advancement in manufacturing OLED displays Samsung has now produced the Galaxy Tab S series, which true to form, will be the flagship models for their line of tablets – with display performance widely expected to be comparable to the OLED Galaxy S5, which is the best smartphone display that we have ever tested.

Here are the conclusions of our Shoot-out:
 

Best tablet display

Based on our extensive lab tests and measurements, the Galaxy Tab S is the best performing tablet display that we have ever tested, not surprisingly with performance that is almost identical to the OLED Galaxy S5 smartphone that we recently tested and found to be the best performing smartphone display.

The Galaxy Tab S establishes new records for best tablet display performance in:

  • highest color accuracy,
  • Infinite contrast ratio,
  • lowest screen reflectance, and
  • smallest brightness variation with viewing angle.

Both Galaxy Tab S models offer Quad HD 2560x1600 pixel displays (with 287 to 361 pixels per inch), currently the highest for tablets, with 4.1 Mega Pixels, double the number on your HDTV.

Where the Galaxy Tab S does very well but does not break performance records is in maximum display brightness – the current record holder for tablets is the Nokia Lumia 2520. High screen brightness is only needed for high ambient light, so turning Automatic brightness on will provide better screen visibility and also a longer battery running time. Its record low screen reflectance of 4.7 percent further improves the effective screen brightness, resulting in a very high contrast rating for high ambient light with Automatic brightness on.

 

Multiple screen modes and color management

Most tablets only provide a single fixed factory display color calibration, with no way for the user to alter it based on personal preferences, running applications, or ambient light levels. Samsung’s implementation of color management for their OLED smartphones and tablets allows them to provide multiple screen modes with different color gamuts and color calibrations – other tablets only provide a single fixed screen color gamut and calibration.
 

Most accurate colors

The Galaxy Tab S basic screen mode has the most accurate colors for standard (sRGB/Rec.709) consumer content of any smartphone or tablet display that we have ever measured (even slightly better than the Galaxy S5 the previous record holder. Color accuracy is especially important when viewing photos from family and friends (because you often know exactly what they actually should look like), for some TV shows, movies, and sporting events with image content and colors that you are familiar with, and also for viewing online merchandise, so you have a very good idea of exactly what colors you are buying and are less likely to return them.
 

Adobe RGB AMOLED photo mode

Most high-end digital cameras have an option to use the Adobe RGB gamut, which is 17 percent larger than the standard sRGB/Rec.709 gamut used in consumer cameras. The AMOLED photo screen mode on the Galaxy Tab S provides an accurate calibration to the Adobe RGB standard, which is rarely available in consumer displays, and is very useful for high-end digital photography and other advanced imaging applications. The large screens on the Galaxy Tab S makes them especially useful for photographers to check their Adobe RGB photo shots and for showing them off.
 

Adaptive display wide color gamuts

The OLED display’s native wide color gamut in the adaptive display screen mode has significantly more vibrant and saturated colors, with 138 percent of the standard sRGB/Rec.709 color gamut, the highest that we have ever measured for tablets and smartphones. Some people like vibrant colors, plus it is useful for special applications and particularly for medium to high levels of ambient light viewing because it offsets some of the reflected glare that washes out the on-screen colors.
 

Comparisons with the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and Apple iPad tablet displays

In 2013 the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablets became the top performing tablet displays in our display technology Shoot-out series, leapfrogging the competition with cutting edge displays using quantum dots and low temperature poly silicon. But with the ever continuing and impressive improvements in display technology the Samsung Galaxy Tab S has now taken the lead for the best tablet displays. The Apple iPad Air, which came in second after the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, now moves into third place for flagship tablet models, and the iPad mini with Retina Display, with a very disappointing 63 percent of the standard sRGB/Rec.709 color gamut and poor color accuracy moves further down the pack for the mini tablet models. (You can directly compare all of the display performance measurements and results in our Display Technology Shoot-Out article series.)

For more information about the Galaxy Tab S displays, you can read the complete Shoot-out with detailed results here.

(DisplayMate Technologies of Amherst, New Hampshire, produces display calibration, evaluation, and diagnostic products for consumers, technicians, and manufacturers.)

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