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Display expert refutes Microsoft claim that Surface RT display is "sharper" than iPad

post #1 of 69
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A display expert on Thursday compared the technology powering Microsoft's upcoming Surface RT with the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad's displays, seemingly debunking previous claims made by Microsoft that claimed its new tablet would be "sharper" than competing Apple products.

Surface RT
Microsoft's Surface RT uses a 768p ClearType display. | Source: Microsoft


In a brief device shootout, President of DisplayMate Technologies Raymond Soneira pitted Apple's iPad 2 and New iPad against what he believes to be a device comparable to the as-yet-unreleased Surface RT, an ASUS netbook.

"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," Soneira wrote. "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."

For the test, Soneira ran the New York Times website in Safari on all three displays, comparing and contrasting each screen's reproduction of the publication's small text.

"All 3 displays have the same 5.9 inch screen height in Landscape mode, so it was an excellent and very fair comparison.," Soneira said.

At issue is the perceived sharpness of on-screen images and text as presented by two different display technologies. Microsoft's Surface uses sub-pixel rendering, dubbed "ClearType," while Apple uses standard pixel rendering across its iPad line.

iPad Retina Display
Comparison of Apple's iPad 2 and New iPad displays. | Source: Apple


Soneira explained that sub-pixel rendering treats red, green and blue sub-pixels as independent addressable image elements not "bound together into specific pixels." He adds that in some cases, sub-pixel rendering can "make the screen appear to have up to 3 times the resolution" as a display using normal pixel rendering.

Earlier this week, CNET reported that Microsoft engineer Steven Bathiche told Reddit users in a IamA sesson that the 1,366-by-768-pixel, 148 pixel-per-inch display used in the new Surface RT outperforms that of Apple's third-generation iPad, which boasts a resolution of 2,048-by-1,536 pixels at 264 pixels per inch. Bathiche pointed to a measurement called Modulation Transfer Function, which combines contrast and resolution qualities to form an equivalent reading.

"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 [sic] with more resolution," Bathiche said.

As for Microsoft's Windows 8-powered Surface Pro tablet, which will have a 1,920-by-1,080-pixel, 208-pixel-per-inch screen using the same ClearType technology as its stripped-down sibling, Soneira thinks the device may level the playing field.

"It will be really interesting to compare them all... including the displays on Windows Tablets from other manufacturers, who might provide better displays than the Microsoft Surface...," Soneira said.
post #2 of 69
Well you don't say eh? I was certain I could fit three gallons of water that two gallon jug!
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post #3 of 69
Steven Bathiche's other claims:

"The Surface will make you jump higher, lose weight faster, grow a thicker head of hair, all while making you more veracious in the sack. Trust me. I'm an engineer."
post #4 of 69
It was a stupid thing for Soneira to say in the first place now he's got himself in a binder ... er I mean bind.
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post #5 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

It was a stupid thing for Soneira to say in the first place now he's got himself in a binder ... er I mean bind.

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post #6 of 69
Couldn't he have waited a week when he has the actual device in hand? There's such a thing as jumping the gun.
post #7 of 69
Subpixel rendering will also become useless as soon as you rotate the display 90 degrees - a common use case on a tablet.
post #8 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Subpixel rendering will also become useless as soon as you rotate the display 90 degrees - a common use case on a tablet.

It's my understanding that is why Apple doesn't use it on their iOS devices but use it on their Macs.

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post #9 of 69
If the Surface screen isn't better, you're holding it wrong.
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post #10 of 69
interesting point...
so Surface is for horizontal usage.
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post #11 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Well you don't say eh? I was certain I could fit three gallons of water that two gallon jug!

This brings it really to the point!

How stupid does MSFT think their consumers are?
post #12 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

Couldn't he have waited a week when he has the actual device in hand? There's such a thing as jumping the gun.

 

But that is not the way the game is played. Everyone has their own crystal ball, or chicken guts, or rune stones, or… well you get the picture then posts their expert opinion by flinging dung against the wall and then wait to see whose drys and stills sticks and who's is just a wet fart. It has nothing to do with reality.

 

"That would be telling…"

post #13 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rabbit_Coach View Post

...
How stupid does MSFT think their consumers are?

 

Now that is funny!!

post #14 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Subpixel rendering will also become useless as soon as you rotate the display 90 degrees - a common use case on a tablet.

Now that, I don't quite get. Would it really be impossible to keep subpixel rendering independent of the screen orientation?

post #15 of 69
Quote:

Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post
 

 

 

Fixed that for you.

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post #16 of 69
So comparing a similar, but lower resolution display as a benchmark stand in for a device that has yet to be released? The MS claim along with this premature comparison/judgement are both retarded.
post #17 of 69

The claim has been removed from the blog. Because as usual, MS doesn't get it. 

 

But this was done quite deliberately. MS knew that the claim itself will generate much bigger headlines than the refutation thereof. In fact, the refutation would simply be added after the fact, after the initial effect (which *might have* impressed some consumers.)

 

MS knows that in light of the iPad, they might have a dud, so they'll make wild claims in order to at least win some consumer attention and interest.

post #18 of 69
refute surface is better by using something that isnt the surface...

Sure its similar, but he couldnt wait until release to thrash it, or was he advertising?
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post #19 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Subpixel rendering will also become useless as soon as you rotate the display 90 degrees - a common use case on a tablet.

This is probably why the Surface does not work well in portrait.

post #20 of 69

Let's get the story straight, shall we? The Microsoftie said the Surface would be easier to read than the iPad 3 when both tablets are oriented so as to reflect sunlight directly into the user's eyes. MS gathered data to support this.

post #21 of 69
They really don't get it. Design is all about how it works - from the ecosystem (apps) down to user's overall experience.

M$ $urface may have the super-duper-cleartype LCD tech..badabingbadaboom..and then what?
post #22 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by imgmkr View Post

interesting point...
so Surface is for horizontal usage.

 

From what I've seen, you need to go into the "Settings" control and tell the Surface Win 8 tablet that you want to run in Portrait mode, then close the control application and voilá, you are there... instantly! 

 

Only Microsoft could innovate a solution for quickly changing from Landscape to Portrait... never again will you have the dizzyining experience of the display flipping from one mode to the other while handling the iDevice. 

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post #23 of 69

Not surprised at all. Move along.

post #24 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post

Now that, I don't quite get. Would it really be impossible to keep subpixel rendering independent of the screen orientation?

It's not.  Whether or not MS has implemented it in both orientations is anyone's guess.

 

I don't really know why everyone here is crapping on subpixel rendering.  It's a pretty cool technology and probably does help clarity.

post #25 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Dorin View Post

It's not.  Whether or not MS has implemented it in both orientations is anyone's guess.

I don't really know why everyone here is crapping on subpixel rendering.  It's a pretty cool technology and probably does help clarity.

They really aren't harping on the technology itself, more that Microsoft is claiming/claimed that a device with half the dpi is going to look better than the ipad3 screen, by using some slight of hand.
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post #26 of 69

I have heard that the Surface looks pretty good, as long as it doesn't lock up:

 

(as shown in ten seconds through the end of the video).

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-pMZd1fupw

post #27 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Dorin View Post

It's not.  Whether or not MS has implemented it in both orientations is anyone's guess.

 

I don't really know why everyone here is crapping on subpixel rendering.  It's a pretty cool technology and probably does help clarity.

 

Microsoft appreciates your faith. Now go buy a Windows 8 PEECEE and make Ballmer proud!

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post #28 of 69
If them iPad minis come in a bunch of colors all hell is going to break loose up in this bi***!
post #29 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post

Now that, I don't quite get. Would it really be impossible to keep subpixel rendering independent of the screen orientation?

 

I think the concept is valid, but breaks down when subjected to Microsoft's handling of fonts. My understanding:

 

In normal landscape mode, the display subpixels are arranged horizontally. With Microsoft's ClearType approach, the horizontal lines in glyphs are forced to align with physical pixels, while the vertical ones are aligned to sub-pixels, i.e., 1/3rd pixel. Diagonals or curves are essentially anti-alised on this grid. With western languages (and probably most other horizontally-arranged writing systems) the horizontal lines are more consistently placed and therefore more important. Verticals may be a little blurry, but they aren't consistently placed and therefore not as important. This does result in very minimal color fringing, but the human eye is not very sensitive to color detail, and this is usually not noticable. However, this can cause fonts to oddly change proprotion when chanign between small sizes; the same font at 8 and 10 point can look noticably different from each other and from a printed page.

 

I don't think ClearType handles rotated displays well at all. At work I have a 2-monitor Windows7 machine, and I recently started using one monitor in portrait to get more effective area for reading PDF documents. I immediately noticed that small text looked very indistict. Fortunately, most of the stuff I am looking at is large enough text or documents that I can live with it for the productivity boost... but GRRR!

 

The problem is that Microsoft still needs to keep a consistent letter shape. This forces thethe horizontals to a full pixel, and the verticals to a 1/3rd pixel. However, as it cannot display the 1/3rd pixel, they get ani-aliased, and look very blurry. If they aligned text to the sub-pixels this way, fonts would look very different based on screen orientation, and generally worse for the majority of users.

 

Apple's font rendering displays the fonts without the adjustments, but I believe does use sub-pixel anti-aliasing. Individual letters may not look as "crisp" as on Windows with a given resolution, but overall are more consistent with different font sizes and when printed. This works with either orientation as well. Use of a Retina display resolves the crispness complaint.

 

I went looking for comparisons, and found this article. I haven't read it in detail, but it looks informative:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/04/24/a-closer-look-at-font-rendering/

post #30 of 69

deleted


Edited by MacRulez - 1/22/13 at 7:02am
post #31 of 69
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post
Great post, because that could never happen with an iPad.

 

Hmm. That search isn't for "iPad locking up on stage during its introduction".

 

Maybe it should be, if you weren't just lashing out in anger.

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post #32 of 69
Does Surface have a gyroscope?
post #33 of 69
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post
Does Surface have a gyroscope?

 

Yes. Hardware-wise, it's really similar to the iPad. The pooch is only screwed in the fact that it's running Windows, which is inexcusably pathetic, and the design is unusable. Windows has a domino effect whereby its laughable power management will ruin the battery life (neither model's is even stated yet), etc. 

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post #34 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Dorin View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post

Now that, I don't quite get. Would it really be impossible to keep subpixel rendering independent of the screen orientation?
It's not.  Whether or not MS has implemented it in both orientations is anyone's guess.

I don't really know why everyone here is crapping on subpixel rendering.  It's a pretty cool technology and probably does help clarity.

Wouldn't that depend upon the physical juxtaposition of the subpixels to one another?

Wouldn't that be different in portrait and landscape modes?
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post #35 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post

That my good sir was brilliant!!

As was yours... ;-)
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post #36 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCJ001 View Post

I have heard that the Surface looks pretty good, as long as it doesn't lock up:

 

(as shown in ten seconds through the end of the video).

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-pMZd1fupw

 

It was lucky he had a back up unit there, ready and waiting for just such an unexpected occurrence.

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post #37 of 69
Help me understand this........

I understand the tech behind all the pixels and whatnot.....

But.....

I just realized that I have never seen a picture of the Surface or any Windows RT/8 tablet on any news or tech website.....

In portrait orientation.....

What the hell?

Anyone have any non photoshopped links...

I use an iPad in portrait mode 95% of the time, like right now.

I don't read books or websites in landscape mode...

What is the tech or marketing thinking behind always showing the device in landscape mode?

Are they tryinging to convey the message that you can use it like a laptop? Are they implying that users need a keyboard??? Will most consumers use it on a table or handheld?

Does it suck in portrait mode and that's why they have allowed very little hands on demos?

I'm sincerely interested in this....

Amazon mostly shows their devices in portrait mode while other Android manufacturers display their products in landscape. Amazon has a goal of emphasizing ebooks. The others don't seem to know how to tell consumers how to use thei tablets.

Any ideas?
post #38 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Yes. Hardware-wise, it's really similar to the iPad. The pooch is only screwed in the fact that it's running Windows, which is inexcusably pathetic, and the design is unusable. Windows has a domino effect whereby its laughable power management will ruin the battery life (neither model's is even stated yet), etc. 

 

http://www.microsoft.com/Surface/en-US/surface-with-windows-rt/help-me-choose

 

They have talked about teh RT one for awhile now.

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post #39 of 69
Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post
They have talked about teh RT one for awhile now.

 

Where? 

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post #40 of 69
This comes as no surprise as you can't really coax better image quality out of a finite number of pixels no matter how much subpixel rendering magic you add. More, smaller pixels can simply represent more information, whether that is more defined text or something else.
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