Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Oct 2012 23:20 UTC
Microsoft Microsoft's applied sciences department manager Stevie Bathich explains why the 1366x768 Surface RT screen is actually better than the iPad's Retina display - fancy display technology talk. Conclusion? "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." I'm sure there's some truth behind the sciency talk, but I highly doubt that the Surface's display bests the iPad's. Seeing is believing, but since The Netherlands is not important, I won't get the opportunity to compare for a long time to come.
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Comment by stabbyjones
by stabbyjones on Wed 17th Oct 2012 04:04 UTC
stabbyjones
Member since:
2008-04-15

Amazingly, person from company1 says product1 is better in arbitrary way when compared to product2; made by company2...

This style of marketing works on people way too often because it introduces the magic factor. You don't have to state anything true, just repeat until the crowd assumes it must be right and they just can't see it correctly.

Reply Score: 8

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Wed 17th Oct 2012 05:07 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

Some people will agree, some won't, and the remainder will be indifferent. "Better" is something that's perceived.

Reply Score: 2

Marketing Bullshit
by Ford Prefect on Wed 17th Oct 2012 06:01 UTC
Ford Prefect
Member since:
2006-01-16

Increasing resolution does not decrease contrast. That's just a downright lie. The hardware construction of the display and how you try minimize reflections on the display also does not have anything to do with the resolution. You could still use a higher-DPI display within Microsofts design.

A display of that low resolution is just cheap and a significant lack of screen real estate. It's funny that they now call their marketing people "applied science". But it doesn't change the facts. And they tell that one of the weaknesses of Surface is a low, somewhat outdated screen resolution.

I love the fanboy who wrote the article btw.: "Personally I am somewhat glad Microsoft chose not to pursue Apple’s helter-skelter specs race, which they pursued for resolution and now for processor speed" hahaha. Because actually providing some value for the money you spend is a bad thing!

Reply Score: 5

RE: Marketing Bullshit
by galvanash on Wed 17th Oct 2012 07:26 UTC in reply to "Marketing Bullshit"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Increasing resolution does not decrease contrast. That's just a downright lie. The hardware construction of the display and how you try minimize reflections on the display also does not have anything to do with the resolution. You could still use a higher-DPI display within Microsofts design.


Your right of course, and I was with you all the way to here...

A display of that low resolution is just cheap and a significant lack of screen real estate.


Screen Realestate?? The effective resolution of an ipad is 1024x768. That is what is was before the retina screen, and that is what it still is... If you double the resolution and double the DPI (which are inversely proportional) you get an effective change of... zero.

Microsoft is using exactly the same effective resolution, they just have a bit more area due to the AR being different. How is screen real estate an argument when compared to an iPad? It's basically identical... The real question is how good the screen looks, not the technical specs.

It's funny that they now call their marketing people "applied science". But it doesn't change the facts. And they tell that one of the weaknesses of Surface is a low, somewhat outdated screen resolution.


Its a 10" tablet. Outside of the iPad every single tablet of that size on the market has approximately the same screen resolution (mostly tiny differences due to aspect ratio). Its not outdated, its an intentional choice to not waste power pushing 4X as many pixels.

I totally get why Apple did it - because they could. They have an edge on manufacturing and supply chain management, and doing a retina screen gives them an advantage that is very hard for a competitor to duplicate economically. But that doesn't in and of itself make it a "killer feature". In my opinion, while it is certainly nice and all, it is of little utility after the initial "OMG I can't see the pixels!" wears off.

Its a tradeoff... more pixels = more power use. Yes, Microsofts spin on this is mostly bullshit, but whose isn't? Have you seen a Steve Jobs product launch???

I love the fanboy who wrote the article btw.: "Personally I am somewhat glad Microsoft chose not to pursue Apple’s helter-skelter specs race, which they pursued for resolution and now for processor speed" hahaha. Because actually providing some value for the money you spend is a bad thing!


And how is having 4x as many pixels of value when you in fact cannot see them (and hardly could before)? Seriously, I'm just saying there are other factors besides the damn screen.

It has 2x the internal storage, actual usable USB ports, it comes with Office, it has a keyboard cover that appears at least to be phenomenally cool, it looks incredibly well made, and it runs the same OS many people use at home and work. If you don't care about any of those things then you won't want one, but I think there are many people that would.

I think most of the gripes about the price are people that want a $200 tablet... We already have a few of those - this isn't one of them and wasn't meant to be.

If you don't routinely buy a new iPad at least every other generation when they come out, then this tablet isn't being targeting at you.

In other words if you have an iPad 2 you bought after the price drop... Or a Nexus 7 or a Kindle... I'm sorry, but you simply are not the target audience. It really is that simple. Microsoft is after the early adopter/price is secondary market, something that up to now Apple has totally locked up in a straight jacket.

That is why it is $499... I'm not saying anyone has to like it, but at least understand it for what it is. They have to go after this market, because if they don't they will end up competing with Apple's previous generation products, which is not a good way to make money since Apple can afford to basically give them away if need be.

Edited 2012-10-17 07:38 UTC

Reply Score: 9

RE[2]: Marketing Bullshit
by progormre on Wed 17th Oct 2012 09:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Marketing Bullshit"
progormre Member since:
2012-05-20

I totally get why Apple did it - because they could. They have an edge on manufacturing and supply chain management, and doing a retina screen gives them an advantage that is very hard for a competitor to duplicate economically. But that doesn't in and of itself make it a "killer feature". In my opinion, while it is certainly nice and all, it is of little utility after the initial "OMG I can't see the pixels!" wears off.


Reading chinese it definitively is a killer feature, it's like this:

Option A) Have retina display: Can read.
Option B) Does not have retina display: Can not read.

It can not be any clearer than that.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Marketing Bullshit
by aahjnnot on Wed 17th Oct 2012 16:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Marketing Bullshit"
aahjnnot Member since:
2008-07-24

"I totally get why Apple did it - because they could. They have an edge on manufacturing and supply chain management, and doing a retina screen gives them an advantage that is very hard for a competitor to duplicate economically. But that doesn't in and of itself make it a "killer feature". In my opinion, while it is certainly nice and all, it is of little utility after the initial "OMG I can't see the pixels!" wears off.


Reading chinese it definitively is a killer feature, it's like this:

Option A) Have retina display: Can read.
Option B) Does not have retina display: Can not read.

It can not be any clearer than that.
"
It's also a killer feature when you're reading pdfs containing large data tables (eg financial reports).

Option A) Have retina display: Can read your Board papers
Option B) Does not have retina display: Can not read your Board papers and look like an idiot in your Board Meeting

It's also a killer feature when examining photos to decide which ones to keep for posterity:

Option A) Have retina display: Can see blur and compression artifacts
Option B) Does not have retina display: Can not see blur and compression artifacts and keep wrong photos

I would personally never purchase a full-size tablet with a screen resolution significantly lower than the iPad's.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Marketing Bullshit
by galvanash on Wed 17th Oct 2012 18:05 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Marketing Bullshit"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

That is why I said "In my opinion" and "little utility" instead of "no utility"...

I did not say and do not believe that high DPI displays are a bad idea. On the contrary, I think ideally everything would have infinite resolution displays. But that isn't reality, so we have tradeoffs.

All I'm saying is that 148 dpi is not bad at all. Its higher than an 11" Macbook Air, which most people feel has an excellent screen. It higher than most other tablets as well, the only exceptions I know of being the iPad and the Asus Trasnformer Infinity. It will require significantly less battery to power it, i.e. more of the device's volume can be dedicated to logic. Less battery = less weight. Etc. etc.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Marketing Bullshit
by modicr on Wed 17th Oct 2012 18:22 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Marketing Bullshit"
modicr Member since:
2005-09-20

> Does not have retina display: Can not see blur

So on Surface more photos look better than on iPad retina => Surface is better than iPad. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Marketing Bullshit
by Ford Prefect on Wed 17th Oct 2012 12:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Marketing Bullshit"
Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

I wouldn't even claim that I disagree with you on most of the things you wrote. But I still don't like how you answer my posting.


1. I never talked about the iPad or said that the iPad's resolution is the way to go. As an example, you could go for full HD, which is a very practical resolution and has only twice the amount of pixels. But all I'm saying in my posting is that Microsoft's spin on the issue is disinformation. A higher resolution is not academic, it *can* help in certain areas.

2. I don't care how Surface compares to the iPad. I just hate when people invent "perceived resolution" or terms alike to play down the lack of *real* resolution. And I find it amusing when other people call a lack a feature out of pure fanboyishm.

3. I also don't care about the pricing of Surface. Why are you telling me all this stuff?

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Marketing Bullshit
by galvanash on Wed 17th Oct 2012 15:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Marketing Bullshit"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

I wouldn't even claim that I disagree with you on most of the things you wrote. But I still don't like how you answer my posting.


Sorry, I wasn't trying to direct anything at you specifically - topics from some previous discussions sort of carried over into this. I apologize for that.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Marketing Bullshit
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 17th Oct 2012 13:40 UTC in reply to "Marketing Bullshit"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Certainly if you compare a "New" Ipad to an older one you can see the difference in resolution. I think MS's marketing is just a bit too aggressive in its promotion of surface.

As much as I don't really care for apple products, I do have to give them credit for making decent screens. Those things aren't junk. I'd like to see engadget test this theory of theirs. I'm highly skeptical of their claims.

However, It might not really matter. Surface/windows RT/metro seems to be designed for maximum view-ability. Certainly giant live tiles with little graphic detail are going to look pretty much the same regardless of pixel count. Most people won't notice. A retnia like screen is astounding the first time you see it, but after a while you get used to it being so good. But looking at a different screen that doesn't have such a high resolution doesn't immediately cause your eyes to bleed.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by ssokolow
by ssokolow on Wed 17th Oct 2012 08:32 UTC
ssokolow
Member since:
2010-01-21

Summary of Microsoft's claim for those who don't want to dissect the babble:

1. Readability of a screen is determined by several factors including but not limited to DPI.
2. We made a more readable screen without going "retinal" by focusing on the other factors such as susceptibility to glare.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by ssokolow
by przemo_li on Wed 17th Oct 2012 08:53 UTC in reply to "Comment by ssokolow"
przemo_li Member since:
2010-06-01

Their screen is "retinal".

By Apple definition.

This is when you reverse engineer Apple declarations about "RETINA" for first iPhones that got them, you get numbers of DPI at USAGE DISTANCE.

Surface have similar ratio of DPI at USAGE DISTANCE.

So you benefit from higher iPad resolution only in 2 cases:

1) For some strange reason you use your tablet closer than usual.
2) You are those lucky 30% or so of population that have better eyes than those used for defining "RETINA", but there are high chances that iPad is still over kill for you.

So for 70% of population, for the most usage scenarios Surface HEAVE RETINA DISPLAY.

PS Why Apple gave bigger res? So apps scale well, cause iOS can't do it well.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by ssokolow
by Tony Swash on Wed 17th Oct 2012 16:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ssokolow"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22


PS Why Apple gave bigger res? So apps scale well, cause iOS can't do it well.


So retina display is a bug not a feature. I got it all wrong ;)

Honestly what is about Apple and it's products that make people talk such utter bollocks in public?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by ssokolow
by redshift on Wed 17th Oct 2012 19:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ssokolow"
redshift Member since:
2006-05-06

Their screen is "retinal".

By Apple definition.

This is when you reverse engineer Apple declarations about "RETINA" for first iPhones that got them, you get numbers of DPI at USAGE DISTANCE.

Surface have similar ratio of DPI at USAGE DISTANCE.

So you benefit from higher iPad resolution only in 2 cases:

1) For some strange reason you use your tablet closer than usual.
2) You are those lucky 30% or so of population that have better eyes than those used for defining "RETINA", but there are high chances that iPad is still over kill for you.

So for 70% of population, for the most usage scenarios Surface HEAVE RETINA DISPLAY.

PS Why Apple gave bigger res? So apps scale well, cause iOS can't do it well.


I ware glasses... but with them my corrected vision is 20/20. Text looks clearer to me on my friends iPad 3 vs my iPad 2. It does reduce eyestrain for me to read on a retina display. The pixels are not wasted.

In windows cleartype was created as a software solution to compensate for typical low density LCD screens. I read an article a few weeks ago that stated that Microsoft did not apply cleartype to metro (or whatever the non sexy actual name is now) because it is built with higher density displays in mind (so now I am confused that they claim to be using cleartype on a surface... but perhaps it is more branding than software this time). Cleartype sharpened things, but it also distorted fonts a bit in the process. Apple had a similar technology that was more accurate to the intention of the font designer, but was not as sharp on the screen. With retina class displays, you can render the font as it was intended without distorting it to look sharper on a low density lcd. MS should really be wanting to use a high density display in the long term, so I am surprised they did not push to use it on a showcase product for the same reason.

As for glair... I really hate the display manufactures and Apple went insane and pushed shiny displays. I understand why phones or iPads have it because you are pawing all over the screen and those coatings were fragile and hard to clean. I special ordered a 17 macbook with a anti-glare screen, because after decades of paying for nice tube monitors with special low glair coatings, I could not understand why we would want to go backwards. If the Surface does nothing more than to make manufacturers work to minimize glair on other products, I am going to have to thank MS for its contribution.


I really wish I could find the article that I read about cleartype not being in metro... because it went into wonderful detail about font rendering and hi-dpi even if it was wrong about it not being in metro.

Reply Score: 2

przemo_li
Member since:
2010-06-01

Everybody have different Eyeballs. They differ in how much detail we can see at given distance.

So when Apple say "retina" they mean, "retina" but for 70% or so of population.

Yes there will be people who will see pixels at advertised distance. (That is part of the story why, in Apple stores iPads lay so LOW).

But you can use math here as well.

1) First you want to decide what portion of population you want to guarantee the effects. 100% is daunting task. 70% is easier. (eg. my father have near perfect sight, Eagle from 2km and he still can see details, while other need to use binocs to decide what bird it is).

2) Next you need to decide NORMAL usage for the device. It can be done scientifically. (what you want to do is to make sure that people will rarely use device at closer distances to their eyes)

3) You calculate needed Screen Resolution.

Done. Of course you can give more SR. That is what Apple did. NO APPLE DID NOT GIVE YOU MINIMAL SCREEN RESOLUTION NEEDED FOR THEIR "RETINA" DEF. THEY DOUBLED SPECS, SO APPS CAN SCALE WELL, SINCE IOS SUCK AT SCALING APPS.

But there are more thing to perceived QUALITY than those. Contrast, Lumination, Consistency of both over whole screen. Lots of things.

But to test those you need LAB. Not some people, when you do not know how good eyes they had....

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Victor.Drake
by Victor.Drake on Wed 17th Oct 2012 09:53 UTC
Victor.Drake
Member since:
2012-01-11

Just laugh at MS and don't ever believe what they say. :-)

Reply Score: 0

It's obvious....
by Tony Swash on Wed 17th Oct 2012 10:08 UTC
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

....people aren't looking at Surface the right way

Reply Score: 2

Wow, look at the incompetence
by WereCatf on Wed 17th Oct 2012 12:34 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

Hey this is Stevie. 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.


(Bold mine)

No, resolution is resolution. It doesn't increase or decrease with contrast. Your ability to see details obviously diminishes as contrast goes down, but the resolution stays the same.

Mr. "Stevie" here is just trying to set a stage for the extraordinary claims he's going to present later on by claiming that your ability to perceive difference between colours somehow affects resolution.

Basically, as resolution/DPI increases the eye has becomes less sensitive.


Bullshit. As long brightness, contrast and color-accuracy stays the same then the display with higher DPI offers higher clarity.

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.


Has absolutely nothing to do with resolution. Slap a 32x32 pixel screen there and you'll STILL see the same effect, something that shouldn't be possible if we were to go along with "Stevie's" arguments.

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)


Subjective. Also, this only applies to text, and well, not all content visible on the display will be text. When you're displaying anything besides text ClearType won't help you. Not to mention that I remember Microsoft themselves saying that ClearType won't be used on Windows 8 RT anyways; if this has changed I atleast am not aware of it.

Lastly we optically bonded the screen with the thinnest optical stack anywhere on the market..


Any proof to back up this claim?

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: http://www.displaymate.com/iPad_ShootOut_1.htm). 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.


So, basically he is saying that their display has better colour-representation and contrast than the iPad. While that may or may not be true that's totally misleading in this context. Yes, good colour-representation, brightness and contrast are obviously good things to have they're still not the same thing as resolution and as such the whole article starts off from the wrong foot and seriously undermines their credibility.

That is not to say that the display can't have better colour gamut and all than the iPad's one, but given how Microsoft sets the stage and intentionally tries to mislead here I atleast would rather wait for 3rd-party comparisons.

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

"Hey this is Stevie. 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.


(Bold mine)

No, resolution is resolution. It doesn't increase or decrease with contrast. Your ability to see details obviously diminishes as contrast goes down, but the resolution stays the same.
"

It is possible that, rather than display resolution, he's actually talking about optical resolution (the capability of an optical system to distinguish, find, or record details) - which is effected by contrast. And given that he talks about "perceived detail" and "resolvability" early in the paragraph, I think it's fairly likely that it's optical resolution he's talking about.

I would still fault "Stevie" for using imprecise wording, though.

Reply Score: 3

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

It is possible that, rather than display resolution, he's actually talking about optical resolution (the capability of an optical system to distinguish, find, or record details) - which is effected by contrast.


That would still be a no -- the optical resolution doesn't change when contrast changes, the resolution still stays the same. The ability to tell one colour from another obviously is affected by contrast, but that doesn't change resolution at all, contrast is literally all about telling one colour from another. Of course you will be able to more easily tell details the better contrast you have, but just as well if you were given two displays with the exact same brightness, colour gamut and contrast you'd be more easily tell details on the one with higher DPI.

And given that he talks about "perceived detail" and "resolvability" early in the paragraph, I think it's fairly likely that it's optical resolution he's talking about.


No, he is talking about colour gamut and contrast.

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

That would still be a no -- the optical resolution doesn't change when contrast changes, the resolution still stays the same. The ability to tell one colour from another obviously is affected by contrast, but that doesn't change resolution at all, contrast is literally all about telling one colour from another.


I'm no expert on optics, but every source I can find indicates that contrast does effect optical resolution. E.g.

"The concept of resolution is inseparable from contrast, and is defined as the minimum separation between two points that results in a certain level of contrast between them."
- http://www.olympusconfocal.com/theory/resolutionintro.html

"Savants talk about resolution and contrast being the same thing. Ultimately, they do go hand-in-hand, because you can't distinguish contrast without resolution and you can't distinguish resolution without contrast."
- http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/le...

Of course you will be able to more easily tell details the better contrast you have


In other words, you will be able to better resolve details the better the contrast you have.

but just as well if you were given two displays with the exact same brightness, colour gamut and contrast you'd be more easily tell details on the one with higher DPI.


Oh, I'm not saying his larger conclusions have any actual validity.

"And given that he talks about "perceived detail" and "resolvability" early in the paragraph, I think it's fairly likely that it's optical resolution he's talking about.

No, he is talking about colour gamut and contrast.
"

Yes, he is talking about colour gamut and contrast... specifically, how they relate to resolution.

Reply Score: 3

Seeing is believing
by Drunkula on Wed 17th Oct 2012 13:03 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

I would have to make my own determination instead of relying on some carefully worded "sciencey" [sic] sounding terms. Put them side by side. Between the two I'd probably go for the Surface.

Ultimately I'd probably get something Android based. Give me Jelly Bean or give me death...

Reply Score: 1

MS pulled the Chewbacca defence
by henderson101 on Wed 17th Oct 2012 14:49 UTC
henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

Seriously.. Microsoft has just lost its mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewbacca_defense

Reply Score: 1

Yeah, very plausible
by protomank on Wed 17th Oct 2012 15:22 UTC
protomank
Member since:
2006-08-03

After installing an experimental ICS on my old 2.2 Android phone, I had the same reaction. Different UI and, more important, a better text font, made it look MUCH better, as if the resolution had increased.

Reply Score: 2

steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

That article is about Surface Pro. We're discussing the Surface RT here.

Reply Score: 2