Test Setup

We have covered this information in our desktop LCD reviews, but for those of you unfamiliar with some of the terminology used when discussing displays/LCDs we refer back to our Gateway FPD2485W review. The various specifications have become somewhat meaningless on the desktop, as the difference between higher contrast levels and higher quality isn't immediately apparent, for example. On notebooks, things are further exacerbated by the fact that most of the LCD panels don't list any specifications beyond the size and resolution. In some ways, this is the reverse of what we see on the desktop; we would almost go so far as to say that the manufacturers are aware of the poor quality of their laptop LCDs and they don't want to draw attention to this fact by listing specifications.

We couldn't dig up much information beyond the size and resolution, but we will provide actual measurements of some of the specifications later in this article. Here's a quick overview of the displays on the four laptops we're looking at today, all of which have been previously reviewed here at AnandTech. Hopefully, notebook manufacturers will begin to include more detail in their specifications in the near future.

Laptop LCD Specifications
Panel Size Resolution Panel Vendor Penel Model
ASUS A8Js 14.1" 1440x900 CMC CMO 1416
ASUS G2P 17.0" 1440x900 AU Optronics AUO 4087
Dell XPS M1710 17.0" 1920x1200 Seiko Epson SEC 3155
MSI S271 12.0" 1280x800 Unknown Unknown

Update: One of our readers suggested we try using a utility called Advanced System Information Tool (ASTRA32) to determine which LCD panels were actually being used in our test laptops. While we can't guarantee that the information is 100% accurate, it's at least something some of you will find useful. (Note for example that we were unable to get any details of the MSI S271 panel so far, but we will update the table if we can find updated drivers that will work with ASTRA32.) There is a very good chance that some notebook manufacturers will source LCD panels from more than one location, so for example the Dell XPS M1710 we have for testing may not be (and probably isn't) representative of all such laptops in the area of the LCD panel.

We mentioned in our review of the ASUS G2P that it had one of the best notebook LCDs that we had ever experienced, and our opinion has not changed. The only drawback is its relatively low resolution for a 17" laptop, but we have seen some other laptops advertising "ultra bright" LCDs with 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 resolutions, so those may be comparable to the G2P LCD. We can also say that the 1920x1200 17" laptops that we've encountered to date (the ABS Mayhem Z5 and some brief use of an Alienware notebook) appeared to be very similar to the XPS M1710 display.

Given how rapid desktop LCDs have been improving over the past three or four years, we're actually a bit surprised at the relatively low quality that we find in laptop LCDs. We understand the need to conserve power, particularly when running off of batteries, but the performance of laptops has reached the point now where many people would be more than happy with midrange (or even entry level) processor and graphics performance with a high-quality display, as opposed to extreme performance with a low-quality display. In some ways, the ASUS G2P is a perfect example of this, as its graphics chip is relatively underpowered compared to many of the other similarly priced notebooks. As we mentioned in our review, despite the "Gaming Series" moniker given to the G2P, it serves far better as a moderately powerful laptop with a great display than as something suitable for mobile gaming.

Just like in our desktop LCD reviews, we use a Monaco Optix XR (DTP-94) colorimeter and Monaco Optix XR Pro software for most of our objective measurements. Since the majority of people don't have such hardware/software available, we will also look at the uncalibrated performance of the notebooks.

Index Brightness and Contrast Ratio
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  • koljit singh - Saturday, August 9, 2008 - link

    i was confused in different manufacturers making same size lcds and which one fit which ones ?

    i would like to import them but the model no are so huge it seems difficult to import all of them
    is there any way to find out which ones fit which ones like compatibility chart would be great help


  • Oscarine - Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - link

    Just a point of note that probably holds true for all the laptop manufacturers (especially Dell). Although the basic technology process for the displays I'm sure is the same, the quality of the sourced display even in the same model can vary wildly. When purchasing a dell with a WUXGA+ Res screen you could be recieving any number of manufacturers displays, fro Phillips, LG, Samsung, etc, and even among those manufacturers numerous different versions of the same panel. Case in point I owned a Dell 9300, with a samsung wuxga+ screen, it had poor contrast, miserable colors, and horrible light bleeding. Whereas my wife's 9300 had LG unit that had much better contrast, richer but less accurate color, and much less light bleed. All of this within the same model, at the same time period. So just like all the other components from DVD, HDD, even keyboards and whatnot are sourced from multiple manufacturers so are the displays, and some are significantly better than others in performance.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - link

    Yeah... which really sucks but unfortunately we can't do much about it other than point out the fact. I will try to determine the panel manufacturers on the various laptops and update the table to reflect this information.
  • lazybum131 - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Just a note about the updated table with the panel vendors, most likely the Seiko Epson panel reported for the M1710 is actually a Samsung panel. I just replaced a Samsung panel with a LG-Philips on my Latitude D620 (you may have heard about the screen complaints), where Astra reported the Samsung as a Seiko Epson SEC4457.
  • Wesleyrpg - Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - link

    hey there, great and infomative article.

    Any ideas who the manufacturer is of the panels in each laptop? I'm curious about the G2P, and apparently the A8JS has two different manufacturers of the panel used in it depending on the country you are based in.

    I'm using a fujistu lifebook n6220, its got a Samsung 17inch panel, 1440 x 900, and a beautiful display, i wonder if its the same panel as the G2P???
  • austonia - Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - link

    The quality of the display (viewing angles, brightness, contrast) is very high on my priority list when buying a notebook, yet few of them come with a decent display and few sites/reviewers focus on it. I hope Anandtech will follow up on this idea with a wider range of notebooks, when they can.
  • jmvillafana - Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - link

    This is a great topic with too few attention. As IT head for a large corporation I used to have Dell as standard for Laptops I used to be glad with response from the total user experience. When switching some 50 users from ispiron 8600 provided in 2004 to a Latitude D820 in late 2006, we had very bad comments. Better speed, better resolution, but the display brightness and clarity was really difficult in users eyes. When looking around for options of other brands, we found similar trends in other brands. Toshiba´s looked better than Dell´s still were not as good as their own laptops from three years before. It seems that most brands have looked for this area as a cut cutting opportunity. The problem is that we could not get better displays even as options for additional cost. The company that grabs this as a marketing opportunity has a good chance of making good money.
  • figuerc - Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - link

    Agreed - my old Toshiba (Celeron 400) has a better screen then my newer one (P4 2.8 ghz - not that new). Some of the newer dells and gateways are just terrible on the eyes.
  • Theguynextdoor - Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - link

    This little laptop has the Xbrite screen with an LED bulb. Does anyone know if this will be tested anytime soon?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - link

    If Sony deems to send us one, we will happily test it. We don't have any contacts at Sony right now, unfortunately, so the best we can do is ask and hope for a response. If any of you have an inside track at Sony, tell them to contact me via email.

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