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Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Display expert says iPad 2 LCD nearly as good as iPhone 4

An in-depth scientific analysis of the iPad 2 display reveals that Apple's latest tablet, despite having significantly lower pixel density, delivers "almost identical" performance to the iPhone 4.

Dr. Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, conducted the tests in a "shoot-out" between the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4.

According to Soneira, the iPad 2 "has excellent LCD display hardware," but could benefit from a software update to improve anti-aliasing and automatic brightness controls. Soneira's overall assessment concludes that "other than PPI resolution the iPad 2 display delivers similar performance to the iPhone 4 Retina Display."

The report suggests that anti-aliasing enhancements to iOS would compensate for the iPad 2's lower pixel density. The iPad 2 maintains the same density, 132 pixels per inch (ppi), as the original iPad, while the iPhone 4 boasts a Retina Display with 326 ppi. Soneira sees the iPhone 4's high pixel density "as something of an overkill (and primarily there for App compatibility)" because anti-aliasing methods can reduce pixelation at lower resolutions and ppi.

Soneira also notes that a "bug" in Apple's automatic brightness controls locks brightness based on "the brightest ambient light sensor value that has been measured at any point starting from the time unit was awakened," even after a substantial decrease in ambient light. This issue, however, occurs across all iOS devices, and could be a simple software fix.

iPad 2


According to the report, Apple will likely upgrade the resolution of the iPad in the next-generation version. AppleInsider reported last month that cost and manufacturing restraints had led Apple to push back a Retina Display upgrade to the iPad 3.

It had previously been suggested that Apple planned to double the resolution of the iPad to 2048 x 1536 on the second generation of the tablet.

Though rumors have surfaced(1, 2) that the Cupertino, Calif., iPad maker had planned a tablet upgrade for later this year, Apple CEO Steve Jobs seemed to quash speculation when he declared 2011 the "Year of iPad 2" at a media event unveiling the device earlier this month.

The iPad 2 is set to have a blowout launch after drawing record lines last Friday. Checks by analysts revealed on Tuesday that new shipments of the device have sold out immediately, prompting speculation that Apple could delay the planned March 25 international launch of the iPad 2, as it did with the original iPad last year.

Shipping times for online orders of the iPad 2 have slipped to 4-5 weeks from launch day estimates of 2-3 weeks.