Screen Quality of Acer Iconia and T-Mobile G-Slate Tablets

Published on May 1st, 2011 by Jeff Yerkey

Acer Iconia and T-Mobile G-Slate Android Tablets

Acer Iconia (foreground) and T-Mobile G-Slate Android Tablets


You know the drill: Another day, another few Android Honeycomb tablets. I’ve been scouring the Interweb reading all I can about the new batch of, er, iPad killers. While the tech news site reviewers have all the ’speeds and feeds’ of this first significant crop of Honeycomb tablets, I like to actually see, feel and evaluate them IRL.

As a graphic and web designer, I actually care about the clarity, contrast and color fidelity of these little guys. My year-old first generation iPod has a very, very nice display. And while its color cast is a tiny bit cool, it still turns heads. It’s clarity is good, its colors are bright with true saturation. The tints within colors are pretty damn good.

Acer Iconia A500

I was the first person to actually inquire about the $450 Acer Iconia at the Fairfield, CA Best Buy last week. Not a good sign. Tracking down the computer supervisor, she revealed they had a whole cart of them in the back but none out on the floor. So we broke one open and peeled off the clear film and fired the Iconia up.

After going through the few Honeycomb setup screens that I was familiar with from my seven days with the Motorola Xoom, we were on the Net and I started browsing websites I had designed. (I should mention I also had my iPad 1 with me next to the Iconia.)

What I saw was pretty awful. The Acer Iconia’s LCD 10.1 inch display was gray, washed out and, as the sales associate said, looked “milky.” Colors were a good one-third less saturated than the iPad, with greens faring by far the worst. This was certainly not the Android tablet that would defeat Apple, even at $50 less.

T-Mobile G-Slate with Google

With the dismal memory of the Acer tablet and its “got milky” display behind me, I hightailed it over to the nearest flagship T-Mobile store with high hopes for T-Mobile’s expensive new 8.9-inch G-Slate tablet “with Google.” (Reminds me of an old tagline from the 1960s, like “Crest — with Flouristan!” What the hell was Flouristan anyway?)

T-Mobile’s in-store marketing culture is the polar opposite of the Apple Store and its confident display of typically 8-10 iPads on its front tables. The T-Mobile salesman had one G-slate tucked under the cash register for me to try out. I felt like I was asking to see a porn magazine.

Positioning my iPad next to the G-Slate, I fired up both displays to about 80% brightness. The store was bright with its full glass facade. My iPad was on AT&T 3G and the T-Mobile was on in-store wi-fi. I loaded NYTimes.com to do a white balance comparison. The G-Slate, while just as bright as the iPad, had a noticeable yellow cast. Not “beige” or “putty” “soft white” — but yellow.

Over at CNN.com, images on the G-Slate exhibited visible JPEG compression blocking on its images. I’m not sure if this was from the hardware or from Android’s browser, but it was quite apparent to the eye. When I visited some of the sites I had designed or art directed, the colors, while chromatic and “somewhat” accurate, all suffered from the same yellow wash over the whole screen. At $749.00 (without a two-year contract), the G-Slate with Google feels like a sucker bet. I might get used to the yellow tint after a while. But why bother when the iPad exists.

If you are a photographer, graphic designer, art director, I am pretty sure you’re going to be on the iPad. But the thing that drives me crazy is the tech bloggers and journalists all seem to look past these Android tablet display distractions as if they don’t exist.

Hopefully I will get to do a followup on the BlackBerry Playbook soon.

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