CNET tests tablet Web speed, battery life

CNET's test results for non-Windows tablets.

Eric Franklin Former Editorial Director
Eric Franklin led the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.
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Eric Franklin
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Each tablet has its own idiosyncrasies, and when testing them, those oh so charming little quirks come to the surface. In my experience thus far, the Xoom, iPad, and Galaxy Tab provided the least amount of frustrating, hair-pulling moments. Eric Franklin/CNET

Editors' note: The video battery results for the Motorola Xoom were corrected from the original post. The original post contained results not in line with our final testing methodology. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

During the deluge of iPad 2 coverage last week, you may have missed CNET's handy tablets table. In it we gave an overview of the major non-Windows tablets already released and those soon-to-be released.

For the few tablets we actually have in the CNET Labs, we're able to go a bit more in depth with what each has to offer. For the last few weeks, we've tested the Web site speed and video battery life of a whole mess of different tablets. We've also tested their default and maximum respective luminosities and their contrast ratios.

Here's what we have so far, which is just the tip of the iceberg. We'll be adding more tablets and additional tests over the coming days, weeks, and months.

Tablet name Video battery life (in hours) Web site load time (in seconds; lower is better) Maximum brightness (in cd/m2) Default brightness (in cd/m2) Contrast ratio
Apple iPad 12.6 9 388 161 881:1
Archos 70 8GB 4.7 13 302 216 581:1
Archos 101 8GB 5.8 11 177 133 1106:1
Dell Streak 5 4.7 8 340 135 1172:1
Dell Streak 7 3.3 7 330 146 868:1
Motorola Xoom 9.3 6 312 131 1,200:1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.8 8 364 123 674:1
Viewsonic G Tablet 7.8 8 364 123 1,093:1

How we test tablets

In the CNET Labs, we currently run three different tests to evaluate the performance of non-Windows tablets.

Battery life
We evaluate battery life by continually running a movie file on the tablet until its battery dies.

We set each tablet to Airplane mode and adjust its respective brightnesses to 150 candelas per square meter (cd/M2) or as close to that number as is possible.

For the iPad, we run the iPad version of "Toy Story 3." For Android tablets, a 720p version of "Toy Story 3" is run. The reason we chose 720p for Android was that not every tablet can run 1080p video just yet, and we wanted to make sure we tested Android tablets under the same methodology.

On iPad, we ran the movie through its iPod app; for Android, we used the movie player, mVideoPlayer, as it provides a much needed repeat video function that not all native Android movie players include.

Site-loading speed
We used GiantBomb.com as our Web site of choice, as it doesn't use Flash or have many dynamic elements. Each tablet was connected to the same closed network with no other devices on it, with the router about 5 feet away. The test began the moment we pressed Enter, with the end of the test signified by the disappearance of the browser's blue progress bar. We measured speed in seconds, with a lower number indicating faster performance.

We used the latest version of iOS for the iPad, and the Xoom is, of course, using Honeycomb, with all other Android tablets using Android OS 2.2.

Contrast ratio and brightness
We also tested the maximum brightness, default brightness, and contrast ratio for each tablet. We conducted these tests using the Minolta CA-210 display color analyzer. With each screen at full luminosity, we placed the sensor in the middle of the screen. We used a completely white screen to test the brightness and a completely black screen to test the black level. We then divided the maximum brightness by the maximum black level to get the contrast ratio.