View the VivoTab Smart's 10.1" panel up close, and you'll see fonts don't look quite as crisp as they do on the iPad. That's because this display only has a 1366x768 display resolution. 1366x768 painted across 10.1" yields 155 pixels per inch, which is better than many desktop monitors but still much lower than the 264 PPI of the iPad or the 302 PPI of the Google Nexus 10.
The visible text pixelation doesn't impede readability in landscape mode (as pictured above), although it is noticeable. It only really becomes a problem in portrait mode, where the screen's 16:9 aspect ratio forces websites to shrink into a very thin column. Scaled fonts look very jagged, and the ClearType antialiasing scheme leaves ugly splotches of color around them. You can always zoom in to enlarge the text, of course, but that's not always convenient, especially when you're dealing with wide text columns.
Portrait-mode reading is much nicer on the iPad, which has both more vertical screen space and more vertical pixels. The iPad's fonts still shrink in portrait mode, but they remain much crisper and more readable than the VivoTab Smart's.
At least the VivoTab Smart's display doesn't skimp on other areas. It features an IPS panel with good color reproduction and excellent viewing angles.
The shots above show the screen leaning back at 110°, rotated 30° to the side, facing the camera at 90°, and leaning forward at 70°. Since there was no hinge to hold the display in these positions, we propped up the tablet on its side using the TranSleeve to take our pictures. The 30° shot was taken with the tablet leaning against a couple of boxes.
As you can see, the on-screen image looks largely identical at all angles. Contrast does shift a little when the display is viewed from the side, but nowhere near as badly as it would on a TN display. We've tested many low-end notebooks with cheap TN panels, and they've all exhibited huge variations in contrast and color accuracy when viewed off-center. Since tablets are much less likely to be held in a fixed position than laptops, wide viewing angles are a must—and the VivoTab Smart delivers.
A nice and wide color gamut doesn't hurt, either. The VivoTab Smart's color gamut is narrower than the iPad's, but it's comparable to that of the ARM-based VivoTab RT and of the much pricier ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T from Samsung. That said, the tablets are all calibrated a little differently, so their white points aren't the same.
The white-point differences are also apparent here, in our color temperature measurements. The VivoTab Smart falls much closer to the 6500K sweet spot than the VivoTab RT and the Samsung 700T. That's good; when color temperatures are too far above 6500K, colors pick up a blue-ish tinge, which is hard on the eyes.
The VivoTab Smart doesn't have exceptional backlight uniformity. The left side of the panel is a lot more luminous than the right—although, as we always point out, luminosity and perceived brightness follow different scales. When displaying a solid white color, the display looks almost completely uniform to the naked eye.
The display is also nice and bright. 350-400 cd/m² isn't enough for comfortable use in direct sunlight, but it's sufficient for indoor utilization under bright artificial lighting.
Displaying a plain black color across the whole screen reveals backlight leakage, which is minimal on the VivoTab Smart. There's a faint white smear near the top left of the screen, but it won't bother you when you're watching a letterboxed movie.
We did notice one flaw our usual tests didn't pick up. There were two small, bright blobs on the screen. One was about a half-inch from the left edge, half-way between the top and bottom of the screen. The other sat three inches diagonally from the top-right edge. These only showed up on one of the two VivoTab Smart review units Asus sent us, so we expect they're more likely due to a fluke than to a design flaw.