Nov. 6, 2012 at 2:50 PM ET
The new iPad Mini has received praise from critics for its size and handling, but the low-resolution screen has proved to be a disappointment. And now tests by DisplayMate suggest that not only is it less sharp, it also falls short in a few other ways compared with the competition.
Many were expecting a "Retina" high-resolution screen on the iPad Mini, and while the 1024x768 screen is sharper than the iPad 2's (which has the same number of pixels) because it is a bit smaller, it's a far cry from the pixel-dense displays of any recent iPhone or iPad.
But generally Apple's displays are high quality in other ways; DisplayMate commented earlier this year on the iPad 3 that it was probably the highest-quality screen consumers had ever been offered. Not so with the iPad Mini: DisplayMate compared it to the Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7, and it fell behind in several important categories.
Its range of color is significantly less, covering 62 percent of the standard color gamut — the Fire and Nexus hit 86 percent, and the latest iPhone and iPad show 100 percent. That means less saturated, less accurate colors.
Screen reflectance, the amount of light that bounces off the display instead of being scattered or absorbed, is significantly higher on the Mini than the Nexus or Fire. It reflected 40-50 percent more light, meaning visibility and contrast are reduced in brighter lighting — as further testing showed.
For some people, this won't matter; they want the Mini because of how thin and light it is. And as the testers point it, it still has "a very capable display," better than most tablets from a couple years back (though not up to snuff today). But for others, it could be a deal-breaker; Potential buyers may want to see the screen with their own eyes before making a purchase.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.