IPS goodness with high PPI
The entry-level T300 Chi has a respectable 1080p display, but our optioned-up unit kicks the resolution up to 2560x1440. This grid squeezes nearly twice the pixels into the same 12.5" panel, resulting in a much higher 235 PPI. Impressively, that pixel density beats the 226 PPI boasted by the new MacBook's Retina-branded display.
To my eyes, individual pixels are indistinguishable on the T300 Chi at normal viewing distances. Images are filled with sharp details, and text is spelled out with crisp characters. Jagged edges are faintly visible if I push my face right up to the screen, but focusing on them is difficult at such close proximity.
The 16:9 aspect ratio is great for movies and spreadsheets, but I'd prefer 16:10 or 3:2 proportions with a little more vertical area. At least the screen's other attributes negate some of the pitfalls associated with its wide aspect ratio. The decent-sized panel doesn't feel too cramped in any dimension, and the high PPI serves up lots of horizontal and vertical pixels regardless of the orientation.
A bonding process sandwiches the display layers together, with no air gaps between them. This approach helps to make the assembly thinner, of course, and it's also supposed to reduce reflectivity. The key word there is reduce—not eliminate. When I'm using the system, my silhouette is still visible to me in the screen's glossy coating, especially with darker backgrounds in brighter environments. To be fair, the reflections do seem a little more subdued than with previous Transformers.
Thanks to its IPS panel, the T300 Chi offers wide viewing angles in every direction. Here's how the display looks angled forward, back, and to the side. Click the buttons below the image to switch between the dead-on and angled views.
Although the colors don't shift, the whole picture dims slightly when viewed from an angle. That's not uncommon for IPS displays, but it's more problematic here because of the dock's limited tilt range. When using the Chi in a correct ergonomic position at my standing and seated desks, I can't get a perfectly direct view of the screen even when it's leaning all the way back. Bumping up the brightness generally balances out the dimming effect. I can also slouch or use the system with outstretched arms to get a better angle on the screen—just don't tell my wife, the occupational therapist.
Straight on, the display produces vivid colors that look great to my eyes. It exudes a natural richness that's free of obvious over-saturation or bias. The plot below maps the display's coverage of the sRGB color gamut alongside some other tablets. Click the buttons to switch between the results.
According to our colorimeter, the T300 Chi comes reasonably close to nailing the sRGB gamut. The range of available hues represented by the white triangle drifts a little too deep into green territory and not quite far enough into red, but it largely covers to the reference region defined by the dark triangle. Among the other results, only the eye-popping OLED awesomeness of the Venue 8 7000 produces a wider range of colors.
All our measurements were taken with the Chi running its default color profile, but there are other options. The pre-installed Asus Splendid utility software offers vivid mode, which saturates the colors, and eye-care mode, which has a sepia tone conducive to late-night reading. A manual slider also lets users control the color temperature in extremely granular increments—not that the default needs tweaking.The color temperature sticks close to the 6500K ideal across the full range of white levels:
Click the buttons below the plot, and you'll see that the T300 Chi comes closer to the so-called daylight illuminant than any of the other systems.
Our final color tests measure delta-E, and the T300 Chi has the lowest average of the bunch. None of the individual colors is especially out of whack, either, at least compared to the other competitors we've lined up.
Next, we'll look at white and black levels at minimum, maximum, and typical brightness settings.
Blacks on the T300 Chi fall just short of the abyss-like darkness produced by the Venue's OLED. But the Chi is brighter than the Dell at full luminance, which helps when battling reflections in bright outdoor environments. Too bad that's usually a losing proposition, as with all too many modern notebooks and tablets. More than enough candelas are on tap for indoor use, though.
A built-in ambient light sensor lets the Transformer adjust its display brightness automatically. The results are generally dimmer than I'd prefer, and subtle lighting changes sometimes trigger wild swings. Fortunately, it's easy enough to disable the sensor and tweak the brightness manually.
Somewhat surprisingly, the display's brightest region isn't in the center of the screen. The upper-middle quadrant posts the highest luminance according to our colorimeter.
Luminance and perceived brightness are measured on different scales, so the screen is more uniform than the graphic suggests.
In our final display test, we'll look for signs of light bleed by examining an image of a black screen in total darkness.
I see a few bright spots in the bottom right corner and up the right edge, plus faint glowing in some of the other corners—nothing egregious.