Good Enough!

How often have you heard or said ‘Good Enough’ in your life? To your friends, colleagues, family, etc. ‘good enough’ may mean something completely different than it does for you. Nevertheless, everyone uses this phrase with their own interpretation of what is ‘good enough’.

If you describe yourself as a perfectionist, it is more likely that you hear other people telling you that it is ‘good enough’ while if you tend to be a generalist you may more likely tell other people the same. So when is something ‘good enough’?

I would define this term as the level of quality that does not need any further improvement to fulfil its desired function. When we talk about displays, the ‘good enough’ standard does not seem to apply. There is always something to improve. This is part of life and important for CE companies to differentiate themselves from their competition. Would you buy a TV that says ‘the picture quality is good enough’? And still, strolling through the aisles at the local TV megamart, you pick the TV that looks good to your eye. Isn’t that exactly ‘good enough’?

So, how did this view pop into my mind for this article? If you read my last article (Electronic Entertainment Without (much) Power?), you know that we had to deal with a power outage for almost a week and after the power finally came back we went to the local store to look for a bigger generator and new printer (not a power-related issue – just the normal cycle of life).

Top TVs are almost ‘Good Enough’

Since there were the newest QDLCD and OLED TVs on display I couldn’t resist spending some time in front of them. There it hit me, all of these displays are really good. They are, of course, UHD 4K and HDR and whatever few other letters you can add. I wouldn’t have had any issue taking any of those home and creating a better image compared to our good old 50″ plasma TV.

The colors are saturated, the images razor sharp and the viewing distance is perfect. All of this is of course not true in our living room. The light fixture is in the wrong location and creates a reflection, the ambient light changes regularly and the image source is just like for everyone else. Let’s just say, it’s not UHD 4K.

In my opinion these TVs are pretty close to good enough for me, especially if I remember our first black and white TV at home, which was the pride of the whole family back then.

Top Smartphones are ‘Good Enough’

Smartphones are actually a bit closer to perfect when we focus on the display functionality for a moment. The authority in smartphone display comparison is our good friend Ray Soneira from DisplayMate. For example, he defines a just noticeable color difference (JNCD) and rates the color performance of smartphones with a number. Here ‘0’ would mean no difference to perfect. In his latest tests the iPhone X scored a 0.9 JNCD and the Samsung Galaxy S9 scored a 0.7 JNCD. Both display were described as ‘Visually Indistinguishable From Perfect’.

Of course he also measures other performance characteristics, but if it is good enough for him, it sure is ‘good enough’ for me.

VR not so much

In comparison to TVs and smartphones, VR headsets are still in the early stages of development. So far, every headset I have tried has encouraged me to talk about what’s wrong with the display. There are many reasons for that, but in general they remind me more of our first black and white TV than the latest OLED 4K TV from LG.

The latest AR/VR headset forecast from IDC puts a healthy growth rate of 52% on AR/VR headset sales for the next five years. They foresee a return to growth for the hardware segment this year and expect 12.4 million units being sold this year.

If you ask me when AR/VR is ready to become the next big thing, I have a good idea; when the headsets are ‘Good Enough’. NH