Panos Panay, the General Manager of the Surface team at Microsoft was answering questions about their upcoming tablet on Reddit. Naturally, one of the questions that came up was their competition, the 3rd generation iPad and it’s Retina display. You might think that the Windows RT edition Surface’s 1366 by 768 ClearType HD screen would compare unfavorably to Apple’s 2048 by 1536 Retina display screen, but Panay would argue otherwise.
“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.” Panay’s argument boils down to the fact that because the Surface has a less reflective screen, a wider-viewing angle, and higher contrast, that viewers will be able to see more detail on the Surface’s screen than on the iPad.
“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.”
While it’s possible that a less reflective screen is more ‘visible’ in certain conditions, and that pixels are not “the true measure of resolvability of a screen,” pixels ARE in fact the limit of the amount of detail a computer can physically place on a screen. Regardless of the font rendering techniques used, the iPad has more pixels that it can use to push out images. In a sufficiently bright room, the Surface might have an edge, but in optimal conditions the third generation iPad should win every time. The iPad can put out more detail.
You can read all of Panos Panay’s posts here.
I suppose we’ll see for ourselves how well the ClearType screen holds up to Apple’s Retina display when the Windows RT version of the Surface launches on October 26th. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.