Weak Black Levels - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Weak Black Levels

February 6, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Savvy TV shoppers may learn about tech terms like luminance, contrast ratio and refresh rates. Then there are black levels, and that's what leads me to the 2013 Tesla Model S.

At night, I noticed that the screens (both the instrument panel and the big central touchscreen) never attain a good solid level of blackness. Where it's supposed to be black, it's really a dark-ish gray. As a self-professed TV nerd, this bothers me. No, it's not a deal breaker, but it does make it just a little bit harder to read things at a quick glance.

You can see it in the rather poor image above. Those darkest areas on screen should be black. I tried adjusting the screen brightness but what I may have needed was a contrast adjustment. Then again, it's probably the screen itself, as the picture elements simply can't block all of the backlighting.

Yes, I've gotten to that point with the Tesla. Nitpicking. The rest of the car is great. I mean that. I love driving this car.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor


  • kardax kardax Posts:

    Wow, this article's been sitting on the shelf for a while. 14,000 miles versus yesterday's with 18,000. As for the topic at hand, weak black levels are depressingly common on LCD panels at all but the highest price points...

  • This is actually something I noticed early on before the car was even "fully released", but I'm also OCD about black levels (I still use a Trinitron CRT as my PC monitor!). I would thought that, considering the premium target market, Tesla would have gone for OLED for the displays. Perhaps at the time of manufacturing OLED was still too expensive even for Tesla? Alternatively, because the screen is ALWAYS on while driving, any persistence and long-term lifetime issues would definitely make themselves known.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    This would be really distracting at night.

  • duck87- That photo seriously overstates the problem. It's fine at night, really.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @stoneymonster: Sure. Doesn't mean it can't be improved. But since this is Tesla, it's perfect out of the box, right?

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