Expert claims Google's Nexus 7 display has flaws

Google's Nexus 7 tablet is a great LCD with lousy calibration, according to display expert Raymond Soneira.

Google Nexus 7 tablet.
Google Nexus 7 tablet. CNET Reviews

Google's popular Nexus 7 tablet has display issues, according to an expert.

First of all, let's be clear: Google seems to have a certifiable hit with the Nexus 7 tablet and reviews have mostly been positive, if not very positive. And there have been no major complaints from review sites about the display.

That said, Raymond Soneira at DisplayMate Technologies says the tablet's display "falls short." Not mincing words, he says in a new blog post that he knew "something was seriously wrong" when he looked at the standard photos that DisplayMate uses to visually evaluate displays.

"Many of the images were noticeably washed out -- they looked like over exposed photographs with missing highlights, reduced image contrast, and weak colors," Soneira wrote.

But I was curious why these shortcomings weren't showing up in reviews -- and why Soneira seemed to be contradicting himself when he told me that the display itself was "high quality." So, I asked him to clarify this.

Here's what he said.

The LCD panel itself is excellent. Good luminance, high Contrast Ratio, excellent Color Gamut and Color Saturation. So the raw LCD display itself is great. The problem is that the factory calibration of the display parameters (generally performed via firmware) is way off (particularly the Intensity Scale) so the images that appear on this fine LCD display look washed out...the display produces washed out images and colors in spite of the fact that it has a display with excellent color saturation and contrast. Similarly, a great camera will take poor quality photos if it isn't properly factory calibrated.

He expands on particulars in the blog post.

There is about a 25 percent compression of bright image content, which is quite substantial. This holds for both the Gallery Viewer and the Chrome Browser. On some cheap displays this is done intentionally by the manufacturer because the compression actually makes them appear artificially bright. Here I think it's probably just incompetence by the manufacturer, which is too bad because they messed up a really nice display.

Soneira is a display expert so his criticism should be taken seriously. But until I hear a chorus of complaints from reviewers or long, angry threads on Nexus 7 user forums, I'll chalk this up to a glitch that, frankly, a lot of people don't seem to be noticing -- yet.

It's still early in the game and the Nexus 7 is just getting into consumers' hands. So, we'll have to wait and see.

Google declined to comment.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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