John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Retina iPad Mini’s Color Range Still a Shade Shy of the Best


With the next-generation iPad mini with Retina display, Apple managed to create a device identical to its sibling, the iPad Air, in most ways, save size. The two tablets run the same A7 chip and use the same cameras — front and back. They feature the same design, and they are nearly equivalent in performance and battery life. But they do differ in one important area: Color accuracy.

Two new analyses of the Retina iPad mini display reveal that the device has the same color gamut as the now year-old standard iPad mini. That means its color range is narrower than that of not just the iPad Air, but rival tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. According to Anandtech’s tests of the Retina mini , the device’s Delta-E — a measurement that represents the “distance” between the color a display is told to reproduce and the color it actually shows — is much higher than that of the iPad Air. The Retina mini scored an average Delta-E of 6.5, compared to 2.4 for the iPad Air (and 3.3 for Google’s Nexus 7). This isn’t a huge deficit; the Retina mini’s display still looks great, but as Anandtech observes, it lacks the same visual punch you get from the iPad Air (compare the reds in the Retina mini and iPad Air above).



DisplayMate reached a similar conclusion in its analysis of mini tablet displays. The firm ranked the Retina mini last in a display shootout with the Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX 7, and criticized Apple for leaving it with the same small color gamut as the original iPad mini and even older iPad 2.

“That is inexcusable for a current generation premium tablet,” DisplayMate President Ray Soneira said. “The big differences in color gamut between the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Nexus 7 and the much smaller 63 percent gamut in the iPad mini Retina display were quite obvious and easy to see in the side-by-side viewing tests. … This all appears to be due to incredibly poor planning. Instead of moving up to the higher performance (and cost) low-temperature poly silicon LCDs, Apple chose to continue gambling on IGZO, which has resulted in both production shortages and inferior products.”

Strong language, that. Question is, does it really matter to anyone who isn’t sitting at a test bench? Not likely.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik