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Wide gamut notebook displays


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#1 craig

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 05:49 PM

Recent workstation-class PC notebooks have been shipping with optional wide gamut displays. Although I'm a Mac user, I set out to obtain and test and example and determine the feasability of running OS X on such a notebook.

My first machine was the Sony AW series. I ruled the machine out because of the unacceptable size and Sony's policy of refusing parts necessary to perform system upgrades. The LCD looked good but I didn't test it.

I ruled out the Lenovo because it has the narrowest gamut and used CCFL. That may have been a poor choice but that's what I thought at the time. I also ruled out Dell's M6400 because of its massive power supply and mandatory $1000 graphics option. I tried to obtain an HP DreamColor notebook but HP direct turned out to be too difficult to work with. I ended up purchasing a Dell M4400 15.4" notebook.

Installing OS X is doable on a Dell notebook but supporting the various peripherals is a lot of work and power management isn't great. I made the machine work well enough to test and benchmark but left a number of components unsupported. Having a quad-core processor made the Dell more than a match for any Apple portable running photo software.

Shortly after my Dell purchase, Apple announced the new MBP 17s with a wider gamut so my efforts shifted toward comparing the two. Here's the result:

gamutcomp.jpg

The first graph shows the new MBP display against the old CCFL MBP 17. AdobeRGB is shown in white. The new display has a much broader gamut than the old one.

The second graph shows the new MBP display in green, the Dell M4400 display in red, and my NEC3090 in blue. As you can see, the Dell has a larger gamut overall than the Apple but not in all areas. It's not clear which display is better for UW shots between the two. Because of that, I have cancelled my pursuit of OS X on the Dell and will be keeping the new MBP. The Dell is much faster and has some nice flexibility features (like dual hard drive) but it's not enough to put up with the downside of OSx86 for me. Leaving "the fold" is only justifiable to me if the advantage is compelling. The Dell doesn't accomplish that but it would make a great choice for Windows users.

Both notebook displays are 6 bit and posterization can be seen on test images. On real images I haven't seen a problem.
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#2 loftus

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:32 PM

At least from your 2-D graphs it appears the blue areas are well represented by the MBP which should be better for UW.
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#3 craig

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:50 PM

Yes, although I'm not sure pure blues exist so much underwater. The greens are much wider so I don't know which would be better for water tones. These graphs don't show luminance. I could provide those or even provide the icc files for anyone interested.

The MBP showed less posterizing overall because it wasn't so wide in red and green. The Dell showed the worst posterizing in greens and obviously different treatment of blues next to the Mac. It is interesting to see the distinct differences in these displays when displaying Granger rainbows.

Both machines are huge improvements over my old CCFL MBP. Both are glossy, but the Dell's gloss is less objectionable. I'll have to get used to a display where I can always see my own reflection. :P
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#4 loftus

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 07:11 PM

Never looked at a Granger Rainbow before; interesting how much smoother it is on my Eizo than my 24" Apple.
I can't get used to glossy screens for my print work; Which is OK because I can't carry my Epson 4800 around anyway.
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#5 craig

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 07:41 PM

Yeah, my NEC humbles the notebooks when displaying granger rainbows...and it's matte. :P Surprised to hear about the 24"monitor tho.

I've never liked glossy but people here have advocated them. The new MBP's antiglare option isn't matte, it's a coating with an alternate bezel I found less attractive. Since I couldn't see it I opted out. I'll adjust to the gloss and I had no problem calibrating it.

Even tho the Dell is glossy it's not nearly as objectionable as the Apple. They've really gone for form over function there.
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