Computing

Why The Nexus 7's Rubbish Display Doesn't Matter One Bit

Displaymate’s Dr Raymond Soneira has gone on the record today saying that the screen on the Nexus 7 is nothing short of a washed out mess that lets down the whole show. He’s right about the display being rubbish and it’s certainly disappointing, but here’s why it doesn’t matter one bit.

For those of you playing at home, here’s a quick summary. The Nexus 7 sports a 1280×800 display with 216 pixels per inch (PPI) on a premium IPS LCD. Sounds great, but upon testing the display Dr Soneira found a serious problem.

He confirmed an issue we raised in our review, saying that the colours are officially weak and washed out. He described it by saying that the screen looks like an “underexposed photograph”.

The root cause of the issue, he says, lies in the way the tablet compresses and displays bright image content:

The display’s brightness fails to increase sufficiently for bright image content, causing bright image detail to be compressed and lost. The Nexus 7 Display stumbles and falls short both figuratively and literally.

This shouldn’t put you off buying or pre-ordering one though. Why? Well at the end of the day, it all comes down to price.

You’re paying $299 for a 7-inch, 16GB, Wi-Fi tablet from Google and Asus that comes with a 1280×800 display and 216 PPI. Compare that to the tablet market leader, the new iPad and you get a few more inches of screen real estate and a Retina display that boasts a massive 2048×1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch. The only issue is that the closest iPad is nearly twice the price of the Nexus 7.

Even if you compare the Nexus 7 to equivalent 7-inch competitors like the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2, for example, and you’re paying an RRP of $499 for lesser hardware.

Google and Asus could have put a weaponised display unit into the ME370T before it made its debut as the Nexus 7, but it didn’t. IHS iSuppli’s teardown of the Nexus 7 tells us that it costs Asus $38 for the display it puts into the tablet. All the components combined in the Nexus 7 means that, all up, Asus pays $US159.25 to have the whole thing assembled. Compare that to the iPad’s insane Retina display and it’s $87 in a unit that costs $US306.05 to assemble. If Asus and Google had opted for the better display to compete with the iPad, it would have likely blown the price out.

Trying to compare the iPad and the Nexus 7 then as Dr Soneira would have us do, is like comparing apples and oranges. The Nexus 7 doesn’t pride itself on its display, it prides itself on price, size and the all-important operating system, Android 4.1.1 known as Jelly Bean.

If you were to pay $500+ for the Nexus 7 and it came with the display it has now, then we’d be having a different conversation. But the Nexus 7 is almost half the price and it’s just as good.

Still want to cancel that pre-order?


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