Shortly before Microsoft began shipping the Surface RT tablet, the company claimed its ClearType display was superior to the third-generation iPad’s Retina display. We had our doubts, and now Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies has confirmed we were right to dismiss Microsoft’s claims.
In a display comparison between the third-generation iPad, the Surface RT, and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, Soneira found that Apple’s device offers significantly better color saturation and color accuracy, and sharper text.
While the Surface display does outperform the iPad 2’s 1024×768 display “across the board,” it has a hard time competing with the third-generation iPad’s 2048×1536 Retina display. Its lower 1366×1080-pixel resolution means that text isn’t quite as sharp — despite employing Microsoft’s ClearType technology — while it doesn’t come close to offering the same color gamut:
The iPad 3 has a much higher resolution of 2048×1536 and a much larger 99 percent Color Gamut. In terms of visual sharpness, the Surface RT with ClearType Sub-Pixel Rendering improves text sharpness significantly so that it is significantly sharper than the iPad 2, but not as sharp as the iPad 3. In terms of the Color Gamut, the new iPad 3 has significantly better color saturation and color accuracy.
Even the iPad 2’s aging display, while not as sharp as the Surface RT’s, offer’s better color, according to Soneria:
While the Surface RT Color Gamut is similar to the iPad 2, the iPad 2 has somewhat better color saturation because of its steeper Intensity Scale and Gamma
Overall, while the Surface RT is capable of competing with the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 — both of which have been around for more than a year — it cannot match the quality of the third-generation iPad’s Retina display. Having said that, Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet will offer a better 1920×1080 display, which should provide better results. Soneira says he will do the comparison again when the Surface Pro launches.