What is the importance of brightness on equipment screens? And what are nits? – Computers

The brightness of screens, whether on smartphones, a monitor, laptop or television, has always been something to consider when making a purchasing decision. And over the years the manufacturers have increased the brightness capacity of their technological productsespecially since HDR is becoming more and more common.

We know that the brighter a screen is, the easier it is to see the image in brighter places, especially outdoors. And the measure used to qualify the capacity of the screens is the nits. normally, a good screen offers 500 nits of brightness, the top of the range has at least 700 nits, but the best and most modern ones are already around 1,000. But the run now includes so-called “spikes” of nits, which can exceed 2,000 nits.

Before we try to understand what nits are, we need to understand why brightness is very important on screens. Of course, on the latest equipment, when you switch from an indoor to outdoor usage environment, you will notice an automatic change in screen brightness. In the smartphone options, you also have manual access to the brightness of the screen, which you can quickly adjust to improve reading comfort.

The brightness increase of a device allows the images to be perceptible in very bright environments. For example, when you try to use a tablet or smartphone on the beach, if these devices do not have enough brightness on the screen, it will be very difficult to see the content, as the reflections of the sun “dim” the display area. So, the more brightness, the greater the contrast and the more legibility the screen will have.

What are nits and how does this unit system work?

Knowing that the brighter the better, the nits work as a benchmark so they can identify and compare the intensity of the screens. According to the International System of Units, the Brightness intensity is based on Candela measurement, Spanish term for candle. The idea is to place a wax candle in a square meter box and light it. A The ability of the light emitted by the candle to reach the four walls of the square is called a nit.. So two candlesticks within that frame means two nits, and so on.

So, when you hear about 500 or 1,000 nits, understand that this would be the equivalent of having the same number of candles within that square. Ie if you put a device with a 500 nits screen inside that square meter, it would be 500 times brighter than a single candle.

It is therefore easy to understand that equipment with a few nits of brightness will work without problems in dark environments. But when exposed to the sun or other very bright scenery, the reading is practically impossible if not compensated with more brightness debited by the equipment screen.

And that is why these are increasingly intelligent, with sensors that pick up the intensity of surrounding glare and adjust the display accordingly. This avoids image micromanagement and of course savings in battery life. You certainly won’t want to make adjustments to the TV when you decide to spend an afternoon watching movies and change the natural lighting coming in from outside.

The brightness differs between SDR and HDR

Current technological equipment with a screen uses HDR systems, that is, High Dynamic Range, being a paradigm shift in the last decade compared to the previous SDR (Standard dynamic range), used by televisions and CRT monitors, for example. In SDR equipment, the information of the television images debited 0.1 candela per square meter and one equipment offered a maximum of 100 nits of brightness.

You probably remember examples like a window with the blinds all drawn up, letting the sunlight into the room, that was enough to prevent us from seeing the television image. There have been some manufacturer tweaks and table adjustments that have allowed for more nits, but overall SDR gear has a very limited brightness capability.. For example, it was possible to map all tones from 0.1 to 100, to obtain more nits through the brightest elements of the image.

SDR offers limited dynamic range, meaning there is less distance to display the brightest and darkest levels of the image. Everything changed with the introduction of HDR technology, first as an add-on to more expensive equipment, is now basically the industry standard on all display equipment.

Through HDR, it is possible to multiply the information in the video signal from 0.1 to 1000 by the content. Dolby Vision technology even allows you to boost up to 10,000 nits. Imagine a TV with 700 nits brightness, but an HDR video can be optimized, increasing the image to 1,000 nits. This is due to the greater range of dynamic range compared to SDR.

In this way, the higher the brightness level of the image, thanks to HDR, it is possible to display more detailed images simultaneously in the light and dark areas. This is possible thanks to tone mapping technique that adjusts these areas, providing more realistic detail and greater depth of imagesbut above all better contrasts in tone.

Growing trend towards increased screen brightness

Smartphone manufacturers continue to focus on increasing the brightness of their equipment. A recent report of the Counterpoint research realize that in 2022, more than a third of premium smartphones (that sell for more than $600) offer displays of more than 900 nits. This value corresponds to an increase of 171% compared to the previous year. The increase in nits is still considered a differentiating factor in high-end devices, but it is a trend that is gradually increasing in low-mid smartphones as well.

Considering that smartphones are devices that are always in your pocket and used everywhere, often outdoors, increasing brightness becomes important. And as mentioned, the adoption of HDR allows the consumption of high-definition video content.

One thing to consider in manufacturers’ communication about brightness is the general concept of it and what is called a peak, which is often indicated by manufacturers in the description of net output. oh typical glare is when using the smartphone or other equipment in a general environment. The brightness peak is when we use the equipment in an extremely bright environmentlike a bright sunny day.

Increased brightness on smartphone screens

Increased brightness on smartphone screens- Source: Counterpoint

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Increased brightness on smartphone screens- Source: Counterpoint

One of the manufacturers that increased the brightness of the screens in their smartphone portfolio was Samsung. Premiums are more than 700 nits, reducing the amount of low-mid stretch gear by less than 450 nits to 20%. Considering that the manufacturer had more than 90% of equipment in this category with less than 450 nits in 2021, proportion of equipment above 700 nits grew by 13% in 2022 compared to the previous year. Galaxy S Ultra models already offer a peak of 1,750 nits.

In general, smartphones appear to be the devices in which there will be a greater increase in brightness. These devices range from 300 to 1500 nits, remember that they are often used outside, to view messages and access content.

On the other hand, laptops can vary greatly in needs, but they are usually used indoors, at work, at home or at school, so modern models offer between 200 to 600 nits. It’s clear that the most powerful notebooks, with mini LED screens like the Blade by Razor, have no trouble reaching 1,000 nits. Finally, one monitor, for home computers, varies between 100 and 500 nitsas the user can control the lighting around him and will certainly not need more.

These are not exact values ​​and you can find HDR models with different brightness offerings but equally significant price ratios.

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