Display

The iPad 2 continues to use what boils down to the same 9.7 inch 1024x768 (XGA) LCD as the iPad 1. It isn’t the 300 or close PPI display that many speculated would launch with the iPad 2. Instead, for the most part, it’s identical to the 132 PPI panel which shipped in the first iPad. 

Side by side the two have very similar brightness, black level, and contrast. That said, we’ve noticed some differences in the numbers between the four iPad 2s spread among us. Two are 16 GB WiFi models, one is an AT&T WiFi - 3G, and another is Verizon WiFi - 3G. Each have slightly different brightness and black levels, and correspondingly different contrast as well. 

Display Quality Comparison
  White Level Black Level Contrast Ratio
Apple iPad 2 #1 (AT&T 3G) 406 nits 0.42 nits 966:1
Apple iPad 2 #2 (VZW 3G) 409 nits 0.49 nits 842:1
Apple iPad 2 #3 (WiFi) 352 nits 0.45 nits 778:1
Apple iPad 2 #4 (WiFi) 354 nits 0.41 nits 859:1

After looking at the numbers we’ve collected, there seems to be a pretty obvious trend emerging. The WiFi iPads seem to have a brightness closer to 350 nits, whereas the 3G models have brightness levels at 400 nits. It seems entirely possible that there are either multiple suppliers for these panels, or different batches with differing performance characteristics between the WiFi and 3G manufacturing lines. 

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Display Contrast

We measured white point on the iPad 2 with an X-Rite i1Pro and found that (at least my AT&T 3G model) it was right at 6604K, very close to D65 and good performance. Conversely, the iPad 1 WiFi on hand measured around 6908K which is admittedly still acceptable, but not quite as good. In reality, there will probably be a large amount of drift in color temperature across different panel suppliers and batches, just like we saw with the Verizon iPhone 4’s noticeably blue display. 

Indoor viewing angles on the iPad 2’s IPS display are still excellent. Uniformity is also good, with one caveat.

There’s been a lot of talk about backlight bleeding on the iPad 2. Initially, I didn’t notice any backlight bleed on my iPad 2, however I now notice a small blotch where backlight bleeds in the bottom right corner. Pressing on the glass surface, I can change the intensity of this backlight bleed, which would imply that the bleed is due to stresses in the glass and TFT like you’d see if you were to press on a panel. It’s not bad at all, especially compared to some of the worst-affected examples I’ve seen in forums online, but hopefully this gets worked out with better manufacturing. Oddly enough, side by side with the iPad 2 the iPad 1 also shows some noticeable light bleed. 


Left: iPad 2, Right: iPad 1

Outdoor glare and viewing angles are essentially unchanged. Subjectively the iPad 2 seems a tiny bit better, perhaps thanks to the slightly thinner glass and adhesion process, but it’s still hard to read anything outside in direct sunlight. 

Compared to the Xoom, the iPad 2 is more usable outdoors:

In summary, the iPad 2 display is relatively unchanged from the previous generation, aside from some obvious (and repeatable) differences between the WiFi and 3G + WiFi models. If you're holding out for an iPad with an extreme resolution display, this isn't the one you're looking for. Maybe in 12 months time.
WiFi and 3G Basebands On the Strength of Glass
POST A COMMENT

189 Comments

View All Comments

  • synaesthetic - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Touchscreens are the very antithesis of good ergonomics. Unless haptic feedback can defy physics or we get some deformable/flexible screens, devices with actual buttons will always be superior.

    The human brain simply reacts better to physically pushing a button. Touchscreens have horrible ergonomics--a tiny bit of vibration is not really much haptic feedback. It feels like a lot to us (and it certainly helps me on my phone) but it only feels like that beccause a touchscreen is so far away from any semblance of "natural use."

    Touchscreens should be used when they are REQUIRED--such as on smartphones, where the number of controls, commands and options far outstrip the physical size of the device and the physical space to place buttons.

    I don't think tablets will ever stop being a toy.
    Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Page 2, final picture. The iPad 2 is on the BOTTOM not the top there. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Fixed! Thanks :) Reply
  • Omid.M - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    "There's also the idea of synergy among devices. Even if you play within the Apple universe and own a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, there's no magical way of sharing data and applications between them. I should be able to work on my Mac, step away and have my apps/data come with me. Your best bet is something like Dropbox but that's no where near the type of cohesive solution I'm talking about. Think HP's webOS touch-to-share but on steroids and you're on the right track."

    Anand/Brian/Vivek:

    I'm sure that's what Apple is planning with NFC-enabled iOS devices, but then wouldn't that require a saved state to be stored in the cloud and then re-downloaded on demand on the next device used? I would imagine that "lag" in the UX would be a problem. How long would you feasibly have to wait for stuff to download the first time you sit down with a new device (new as in rotation) ?

    Also, would this be limited to stock-Apple stuff only? It would be a bear for Apple to save the state of arbitrary 3rd party software from one device to the next (assuming both devices have the client installed). Right?

    Next...

    "So if you're actually torn between the iPad 2 and the Xoom my best advice is to wait. Apple needs to update iOS in a major way and Honeycomb needs a hardware update. Whichever gets it right first should get your money."

    This is really the money statement of the review. I think Android tab makers need to NOT simply look at the iPad 2 to figure out their next move, but to pave their own path, not for the path to be a RESPONSE to the competition. The Xoom should have higher quality display for sure, and Honeycomb needs faster incremental updates. I really liked it but it just lacks so much in terms of functionality and compatibility, at least if we're considering it for productivity.

    None of the tabs on the market right now are really meant for editing/creating content--even if you're able to with a handful of apps--but simply consuming existing content (iTunes music streaming, sharing videos, social networking--and I think that's the biggest issue with tablet to replace netbooks or become devices taken seriously.

    Please, please cover the WebOS tablet when it comes out.

    Thanks for the review, guys. Great work. The technical section on glass, for instance, is one reason with AT does the best reviews.

    Worth the read. Will tweet for others to check it out!

    -Omid
    Reply
  • clb - Monday, April 04, 2011 - link

    I agree on both, but the point on #1 is missed. It is not the need for the cloud on NFC, but the fact that you cannot actually sync the device:

    >I should be able to work on my Mac, step away and have my apps/data come with me.

    Even if you are going from a Mac to the iPad (1 or 2), there is no sync feature that covers everything. A note created on the iPad has to be emailed to your Mac; Apple will not let you read a note created on the iPad on a Mac unless you email it to yourself! And there is no way to get a note into the Likewise, using DropBox is great, but now files have to be loaded up, then you must reconnect, then load down. You cannot simply have the Mac send to the iPad or vice versa.

    This is because unlike the early iPods, the iPhones and iPads do not allow the user to move files. Early iPods could be treated as FireWire drives. Not the iOs devices. Everything must go through iTunes or via the cloud (i.e., third-party sites). If I'm at a beach house with no cloud connection, and want to move content from my PC/Mac to my iPad, I'm SOL in many cases.

    This is bad.
    Reply
  • Adam Chew - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Judging from your review of the iPad, its competitors will stand no chance of ever gaining traction in everyday use.

    So get a Macbook Air.....LOL

    The problem is the everyday user is not a tech blog blogger, the iPad is ideal for consumption of everything of the net and not like some tech blogger who needs to blog unnecessarily with a laptop when an iPad is at hand.
    Reply
  • nickdoc - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Loved your contribution! The geek talk was getting really boring and repetitive. Hello! Normal people have needs, too. This is what the reviewers often forget. Not everyone needs to create content to be consumed by other creators of mostly the same content. Lol! Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    OK, why where you joining *two iPads* together with magnets and buying a "smart vase" from Apple? :D

    "The iPad aligns and attaches to the body of the iPad 2 using six magnets along its side that line up with a similar set of magnets on the device. When I acquired the smart vase at launch, I [...]"
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Fixed again :) Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    How the f does it work? Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now