Display

While this device is targeted towards gaming, as a tablet it also needs a great display. In order to better test this, we turn to our custom workflow in CalMAN 5 to get a better idea of how good the display is. To start, we’ll look at the basics and move on from there. All of these tests were done with sRGB as it provides the best results.

Display - Max Brightness

Display - Black Levels

Display - Contrast Ratio

Unfortunately, it seems that the display is a bit dim compared to the competition. It’s still well within spec and plenty bright for indoor usage, but outdoors it won’t be as easy to read. Contrast is definitely up to par though, and as far as I can tell in normal usage image-dependent dimming is disabled, so the display has a relatively high native contrast.

Display - White Point

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

In the grayscale test, NVIDIA has done a relatively good job in keeping a balanced white point, although error ends up a bit high relative to what we’ve seen recently. It’s definitely acceptable for most users, at any rate. It's important to note here that the grayscale accuracy error average is not just a measurement of RGB color balance, as vision also depends upon the luminance aspect to be correct.

Display - Saturation Accuracy

The saturation test is where things start to fall apart. Unfortunately, it’s quite clear that the backlight used in this device just doesn’t have pure enough wavelengths for red and blue, and the result is that the gamut is well below sRGB, around what we see for the iPhone 4/4s and iPad mini line. This may be an attempt to improve power consumption, but I suspect that most are willing to forgo some battery life for a higher quality display. NVIDIA’s sRGB calibration is good up to the 80% saturation mark, but everything else past that point will have the same color, so it’s clear that NVIDIA’s display calibration tries to make do with what it has.

Display - GMB Accuracy

As expected, the ColorChecker shows the results of the poor gamut and some issues present in the grayscale. Error ends up relatively high. The display is still decent, but relative to the competition it doesn’t stack up very well. 

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  • cknobman - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    Thought Nvidia had a real killer here.

    Until I saw how crappy the screen is. On a tablet having such crappy color reproduction is just not going to cut it.
    Reply
  • ams23 - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    Overall the Shield tablet display is not bad but not great. The black levels, contrast ratio, and saturation accuracy are quite a bit better on Shield tablet compared to iPad Mini Retina. The max brightness and white point accuracy are slightly better on Shield tablet compared to iPad Mini Retina. The grayscale and GMB accuracy are quite a bit worse, however, and are the two areas that need some work. Reply
  • rodolfcarver - Friday, October 03, 2014 - link

    I agree that it's not bad, but the truth is that most games will be just as good on some of the top tablets (http://www.consumertop.com/best-tablets/ ), and they will also be better for all other tasks. Therefore I don't see the point of the Nvidia Shield. Reply
  • willis936 - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    You must have skipped the cpu and gpu benchmarks... Reply
  • ddriver - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    Color accuracy is pretty much irrelevant for gaming. Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    Well yeah, if you're a moron. Reply
  • zodiacsoulmate - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    that's mean... also you are wrong color accuracy is so irreverent in gaming... Reply
  • inighthawki - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    Games already use low resolution color palettes. Textures almost never have more than 8 bits per channel (and are often compressed beyond that), and lighting calculations and sampling error is already going to produce generally "wrong" colors with respect to the real world. You're absolutely fooling yourself if you believe you will see a noticeable difference between this and a more accurate display while gaming. Reply
  • mkozakewich - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    "Games" use an incredibly varied set of graphical abilities. Maybe first-person shooters are different, and a lot of hyper-realistic AAA games in general; but there are plenty of games that are bright or cel-shaded, and those look a lot better on a screen with rich colours.

    You can't just say a display is good or bad. The reason they give us all these specs is so that we can make our own choices. Someone who plays games with muted or washed-out colours can decided that it's fine, and that this works for them based on the tradeoffs it makes.
    Reply
  • inighthawki - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    I agree there are cases, typically indie games, where this is true, but this is an incredibly small subset of the game market, and also generally not the target audience of such a device. The shield seems to be targeted more at heavy gamers, especially those who wish to stream games from a high end PC in another room. These are the people who typically have many AAA titles and games where the graphics are so complex, and the amount of estimation used to compute lighting and texture quality is off from realistic values enough to not even realize that in cases of perfect color reproduction by the display, the game could very easily have a high error from the "real world" value anyway. Reply

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