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 2048x1536 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?



    I've already got one and think its great for the price. A new ROM or update from google should be able to fix any problems its got. Anyhow, I'm waiting for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.....that should be great.

    But the Screen review pretty much said it's a great screen, hampered by poor firmware.
    It's possible (and even likely) that the issue can and will be resolved.

    This follow up piece stumbles and falls short.

    The original analysis finished with, "If high image and picture quality is important to you, then you might want to skip the Google Nexus 7 and wait for a Tablet with a better display, or wait and see if Google can correct the problem."

    The important part of this recommendation is that it is aimed at those who value high image and picture quality, not telling people in general to cancel their pre-orders.

    Why is this a rubbish display?? Rubbish may be to harsh a term considering how many actual rubbish screens there are out there.

    "stumbles and falls short, both figuratively and literally". Really? A device with no means of self propulsion literally stumbled over, and fell down before reaching its intended physical checkpoint?

      Surmised my thoughts exactly.

      Just what I was thinking! he got the "figurative" part right, but then he just HAD to add "literally" like some imbecilic sportsperson In fact, worse than a sportsperson because he knew to use "figurative".

      What an embarrassing verbal error.

        Americans do this all the time! They literally don't know what literally means and tend to use the word to simply add emphasis. Pathetic I know.

    Maybe I'm out of touch, but my Nexus 7's screen looks pretty bloody awesome. I guess I don't have the same standards as these guys.

      Totally agree, I love my Nexus 7 and the screen is a non issue. I love it.

      My brother has a 7" Android tablet with a "rubbish" display. I haven't seen a TN screen that bad in years; viewing angles are about 20 degrees before solarising (Ramos W17Pro - it's all great on paper; dual core, 1GB RAM, 16GB flash, 1024x600 etc ). But at $130 shipped, you really can't complain.

      Next to that, the N7 is amazing, if you don't mind paying twice the price.

    Another reason is doesn't matter: I don't get all jittery with the lose of 13 percent of the colour gamut as compared to the new iPad.

    I've used really bad monitors over the years, and this is still better than those by a long shot. Only people who are really REALLY anal about this, or do studio tests, will care about this kind of limitation in the screen as it is today.

    Hmm perhaps I'm not fussy enough - the display for me is fantastic and far outperforms my previous Acer Iconia!

    "The only issue is that the closest iPad is nearly twice the price of the Nexus 7"... At a list of $429 vs $299 I don't think so.

    Horses for courses. The Nexus 7 is an outstanding value proposition. The iPad 2 is also an excellent value proposition if you value the extra real estate.

      The article that he's referring to didn't make any comparisons between the iPad 2's screen and the Nexus 7, they only focused on the New iPad's display. Based on this, it seems fair that this article compares only the new iPad's price to the Nexus 7.

      True though, both N7 and iPad2 are excellent value for money.

      IMHO, the N7 equals and often exceeds the $429 iPad 2 in pretty much every respect - unless you specifically want iOS, 10" or a rear camera, of course.

    Mine just arrived and I love it - great value for money.
    Haters gonna hate though.

    Still not enough to convince me to get one. If it had a microSD slot, maybe. But I've actually seen a couple of people with these on the train the past few days and quite honestly the screen still looks pretty tiny. I think I'll wait for a 10 inch variant, or hope Surface fits my needs.

    I don't understand this article, of course your going to get limitation because of the price the same as everything ELSE!.

    Rather pay the extra for an ipad and get quality! and use that comfortably for 2-3 years with nothing to whinge about .

    Who doesn't want higher resolution on a tablet??? It's silly to say you don't want it or stubborn.

    Manufactures will pump out more android tablets within a few months, then the nexus 7 is crap in every way.

    P.s. is apple sells the new ipad for $500 if they make a 7inch im sure they can do it for $300 with quality.

    Footnote: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" prices have plummeted below the RRP $499. I'm sure I've seen them under $300.

    "Still want to cancel that pre-order?"

    Pre-order? Im pretty sure most people who preordered have their Nexus 7 by now and if not I WOULD be cancelling and walking into a store to buy one like I did almost a week ago now.

    Also this article is a very weird follow up to the previous article about the Nexus screen. It would seem more balanced if both opposing points were in the same article not two seperate ones.

      Yes I got my N7 today at BL and in the display, it was placed next to a Samsung white 7 incher, I am not sure of it is the old 7 or the Tab 2 /7 Samsung have so many different sevens. But this 8 gig Samsung 7 was 295 and the sales person said Samsung reduced it soon as N7 came out, we know why. But still side by side I did noticed the Samsung screen is much brighter more brilliant and of course only dual core and 8 gigs with no Jelly bean. Despite having a Super AMOLED, it is not future proof what of Key Lime Pie? Can the dual core handle it?
      The N7 is pretty smooth and very fast.

    So tell me, how does an article that says things like "excellent colour saturation and contrast" and "impressive 86% of gamut" with a caveat of "noticeably washed out", get translated as "rubbish" and a "nothing short of a washed out mess that lets down the whole show" (which, incidentally, Dr Soneira did not "go on record" as saying)?

    Everyone else is fine with it. The Verge,said "while the Nexus 7 isn't Retina display quality like the third-generation iPad, it isn't too far off either", Engadget called it "plenty bright, too, a properly nice screen", even Giz US called it "bright and colorful". The worst I could find was "a bit washed out when compared to Super AMOLED". So why is Giz AU trying to rubbish it so hard?

    You guys are of course entitled to your opinions, especially in your reviews, but even there you stopped well short of this level of trash-talk. I know you like your iPads, but one has to wonder if Dr Soneira would agree with how you've characterised his findings.

    Galaxy tab 2 7.0 RRP has been $299 for at the very least a month

      Tab 2 /7 is actually a cheaper version of the tab 7 it replaced. Not only that, it does not have quad core like the N7 nor Jelly Bean and most likely unable to handle Key Lime Pie.

    once dev's start making kernels with colour control it should fix it up pretty much - my galaxy nexus screen looks a lot better with gamma and contrast settings tweaked

    So it's got a display that even when it's working properly (i.e. not one of the ones with the screen separating from the tablet's body out of the box) is pretty poor quality. But hey, cheap!

    I tell you what is rubbish display, have you looked at the ell Steak 7 now on Optus Prepay? Sill selling everywhere at 199 OMG that is the most rubbish display I have ever ever seen, more rubbish than rubbish itself. Maybe the Kogan Agora is even better.

    I tell you what is rubbish display, have you looked at the Dell Steak 7 now on Optus Prepay? Still selling everywhere at 199 They must thibnk Australian have no eyes, charging 199 for that rubish excuse called sceen. OMG that is the most rubbish display I have ever ever seen, more rubbish than rubbish itself. Maybe the Kogan Agora is even better.

    I'm writing this comment on my Nexus 7 and I'm a Google "fanboy" but I can tell you that it does have very a noticeable problem with colour and exposure... I went from a Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus to the Nexus 7, which has exemplified the problem and I notice the problem even more when I watch videos on YouTube... I don't think Google would have know about the problem when they were testing it, I think it would have been ASUS pushing to keep up with orders or something... I don't know....

    If you go to a store like the one I went this arvo to get my N7 and if you can put the Tab 7 next to the N7 you will see it is very obvious one screen is much more brilliant and the other a little dull even with brightness full. However in a real life situaltion I find myself very rarely holding a Tab 7 side by side with a N7 everywhere I go so I will not notice it so much.

    Of course, it begs the question - why don't they offer two versions, one with this display and a premium one with a better display at a higher price? Everyone does it with phones and laptops, so why not here?

    I have had a few devices over the years. And so far I love my Nexus 7 the most out of all of them. Maybe I like slightly washed out images. I look at a Galaxy S2 and my eyes hurt. I want to look away, it the display with many of the brash wallpapers going around makes me think of teenage gamers and their over juiced desktop wallpapers of scifi scenes and busty babes. I think the whole contrast, brightness, color war is a bit moot. The nexus 7 feels mature, fresh and well balanced. Sometimes you can just spend way too long reading reviews and indepth tests of devices, and you just need to get out there and get one in your hands and have a play. The Nexus 7 is fantastic.

    "The only issue is that the closest iPad is nearly twice the price of the Nexus 7."
    The comparable ipad is 16-gig ipad 2, which cost $100 more, not "twice as much" (i.e. $318 more)
    "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."
    The 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 about the same as the Nexus 7 these days.

    -At least with the $68 markup on the Nexus 7 in Oz they are all similar in terms of value. To assert otherwise by comparing with galaxy tab launch-RRPs and ipad3s is just dishonest

      how is this comparable to the iPad2? Nexus 7 and a higher screen resolution and cpu spec to begin with ...

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