How to change LCD density on rooted Samsung Galaxy Tab

Tab-set-ld

One of the main highlights of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is its 7-inch screen. Boasting a resolution of 1024 x 600, it's one of the highest resolution displays on an Android device. Due to its LCD density, however, the Tab doesn't really make the most of it.

Its default density value (240) makes icons large and text extremely readable, but the trade-off is that fewer icons and lines of text are displayed. This is why a device like the Dell Streak, with its smaller, lower-resolution screen and LCD density of 160, is able to show more content in certain apps than the Tab (as shown here).

Fortunately, if your Galaxy Tab is rooted (tutorial here), then you can adjust its LCD density quite easily. What you see in the screenshot above is my Tab with its stock density value on the left and an adjusted value of 200 on the right.

The new density looks a little fuzzy in the image because it's been resized. Here's the original screenshot of the 200 density value (click to view full size):

200-settings

There are several ways to change the LCD density on your rooted Galaxy Tab. I've outlined three of the most common methods below.

Before you decide whether to follow any of the tutorials, you should know that some of Samsung's apps are designed for the stock density value, which means that changing this value will affect how these apps are displayed. For example, here's what happens to the URL bar in the stock browser when the density is set at 200:

200-web

This doesn't affect usability at all, but it does affect aesthetics. Setting the density value higher or lower will improve/worsen display issues like this, so keep that in mind when selecting a number.

The stock home launcher will also be affected by a density change, so you should use a different launcher (I use ADW.Launcher) for best results.

Now let's get to the tutorials, which were originally published on Good and EVO, my HTC EVO site.

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Method 1

Evo-lcddensity The easiest and safest way to change the Galaxy Tab's LCD density is with a free app called LCDDensity for Root.

Lcddensity

It has a simple user interface with clearly labeled buttons that let you change the density value to a predetermined value with a quick tap. Press which one you want (lower value means smaller text/icons) and hit "Apply." You'll think the app crashed and your Tab is restarting, but it didn't and it isn't. Just wait a few seconds and everything will reload with the new LCD density setting in effect.

If you don't like what you see and don't want to use the app to select the original LCD density from the list, just reboot the Tab to go back to the stock value.

Method 2

Evo-lcddench Another app that can be used to change the DPI on your rooted Tab is called LCD Density Changer.

Lcd-density-changer
Also available in Android Market, this app costs €0.75 and offers more features. The most important one is the option to save the new density value as the system setting or even just load it on demand. It also comes with two home screen widgets (1×1 and 2×1) for quick density switching and has a compatibility mode setting for apps that don't scale well. Another differentiating feature is that there are no preset density values; you can input whatever you want.

Saved changes made in LCD Density Changer will survive a reboot, though, so you need to be careful when making changes in case certain values cause problems (use the "Preview/Temp Change" button in the app before saving values). You will also have to manually set it back to 240 to get everything back to normal.

Method 3

The most complicated and potentially dangerous way to change the LCD density is to manually edit the build.prop.

IMPORTANT: You are responsible for anything you do to your rooted Tab. Proceed at your own risk, and don't try this if you don't know what you're doing.

1. Download and install Root Explorer (£2.50) from Android Market.

Chart

There are other file managers for root users available, but this is one I use and what the rest of this tutorial is based on.

2. Open Root Explorer on your Tab, scroll to the bottom, and tap the system folder.

3. Tap the Mount R/W button at the top of the screen to gain read-write access to the files.

4. Long press on the build.prop item in the list.

5. Select Open in Text Editor from the pop-up menu that will appear.

6. Locate the line that reads ro.sf.lcd_density = 240. Delete "240" and input another value in its place. 

7. Tap the Menu button on the Tab.

8. Tap Save & Exit from the toolbar that will appear on the bottom of the screen. A backup of the original build.prop will be created automatically.

9. Tap the Mount R/O button at the top of the screen to return to the previous read-only state.

10. Exit Root Explorer and reboot the Tab to see the changes.

11. Repeat steps 2-10 as needed. Set the density to 240 to go back to the stock DPI.

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I've got an LCD density value of 200 on my Tab. It's the first number I tried and since I liked the results, I didn't try anything else. Here are a few more comparison shots of a 240 vs 200 density value:

Tab-home-ld

Tab-market-ld

Again, text and icons are crisp/clear in person and only appear otherwise in the screenshots because of the compression when I resized them.

The lower density value allows more content to fit on the Tab's screen and also makes everything look less cartoony to me.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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