Why The Microsoft Surface RT Probably Won’t Have A Clearer Display Than The New iPad

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Don't be fooled by Microsoft's claims just yet.
Don't be fooled by Microsoft's claims just yet.

Microsoft claims its new Surface RT tablet, which begins shipping later this month, has a display that’s superior to the Retina display in the third-generation iPad. But according to DisplayMate CEO Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, that may not be the case. After some basic comparisons, Soneira found the Surface tablet’s display is “significantly less sharp” than the new iPad’s.

The iPad’s Retina display boasts a significantly higher resolution that that of the Surface RT tablet’s display, at 2048 x 1536 compared to 1920 x 1080. It’s also smaller, which means it has a higher number of pixels-per-inch (264 vs. 208). So why does Microsoft think its Surface display is better?

Well, Microsoft uses a technology called ClearType, which has the ability to make some displays appear to have three times the resolution than that actually have. Soneira explains:

With Sub-Pixel Rendering the individual Red, Green and Blue Sub-Pixels are treated as independent addressable image elements and are not all bound together into specific Pixels. In some cases Sub-Pixel Rendering can make the screen appear to have up to 3 times the resolution of Pixel Rendering.

Because of ClearType technology, Microsoft’s displays appear clearer and sharper than other displays with the same resolution. That’s why the company claims its Surface RT has a better display that the iPad 3. But its claims may not be accurate, according to Soneira:

While I haven’t yet seen the Microsoft Surface RT Tablet, its screen specs are almost identical to the Asus Netbook so I repeated the Display Shoot-Out – this time with both the iPad 2 and the new iPad 3, which has a 2048×1536 264 PPI screen.

[…] The Windows ClearType 768p display on the Asus Netbook was significantly sharper than the iPad 2 768p display but also significantly less sharp than the new iPad 3 1536p display. It is certainly possible that the Microsoft Surface RT Tablet will perform better than the Asus Netbook, but it is very unlikely that it will turn out to be visually sharper than the new iPad 3.

Until Soneira gets his hands on an actual Surface RT, we can’t be completely sure of this, of course. But it certainly seems the Surface RT display may not be quite as good as Microsoft claims.

As for the Windows 8 Pro Surface, however — which offers better specifications — its 1920 x 1080, 208 ppi display should be “visually sharper” than the new iPad’s display, Soneira says, despite not being quite as impressive on paper.

Soneira promises a more in-depth comparison once he has his hands on the Surface, so be sure to keep an eye out for that when the device makes its debut later this month.

Source: DisplayMate