Microsoft: Surface Display Better Than iPad’s Retina Display

BY Jason

Published 18 Oct 2012

The new iPad’s Retina Display is widely considered as the best display on a mobile device.

However, in a during a Reddit IAmA event on Tuesday, Microsoft engineer Steve Bathiche claimed that Microsoft Surface has a better display than iPad’s Retina display.

He explained:

Screen resolution is one component of perceived detail. The true measure of resolvability of a screen called Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), not Pixels. MTF is a combination of both contrast and resolution. There are over a dozen subsystems that effect this MTF number.. Most folks just focus on one number out of dozens that effect perceived detail. Without good contrast resolution decreases. Check out contrast sensitivity of the human eye graph ( and if you want more see the links below. Basically, as resolution/DPI increases the eye has becomes less sensitive. So as a result, the amount of light in a room and the reflections off the screen have a huge effect on the contrast of the display. In fact, a small amount of reflection can greatly reduce contrast and thus the perceived resolution of the display. With the ClearType Display technology we took a 3 pronged approach to maximize that perceived resolution and optimize for battery life, weight, and thickness. First prong, Microsoft has the best pixel rendering technology in the industry (cleartype 1.0 and 2.0) .. these are exclusive and unique to Windows, it smooths text regardless of pixel count. Second, we designed a custom 10.6” high-contrast wide-angle screen LCD screen. Lastly we optically bonded the screen with the thinnest optical stack anywhere on the market.. something which is more commonly done on phones we are doing on Surface. While this is not official, our current Cleartype measurements on the amount of light reflected off the screen is around 5.5%-6.2%, the new IPad has a measurement of 9.9% mirror reflections (see the displaymate link: Doing a side by side with the new iPad in a consistently lit room, we have had many people see more detail on Surface RT than on the Ipad with more resolution.

We will have to wait for display experts like DisplayMate to do a detailed analysis of Microsoft’s ClearType Display to find out if he is making a valid argument.

Thankfully we won’t have to wait too long as Microsoft started taking pre-orders for Microsoft Surface RT tablets on Tuesday and will be deliver the first batch of the tablets on October 26.

Also read:

Apple iPad vs Microsoft Surface: Specs Shootout