Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 tablet sits among the top performers in the tablet market when it comes to screen and image quality, according to an analysis from DisplayMate, a provider of video testing and calibration software and services.
In a July 30 tweet, the company announced, "DisplayMate's in-depth Display Shoot-Out for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is live. Outstanding professional display."
Surface Pro 3 boasts a 12-inch touch screen (up from the 10.6-inch display of its predecessor), packing a resolution of 2,160 by 1,440 pixels in a nontraditional 3:2 aspect ratio. In eWEEK's first hands-on look at the device the day of its May 20 launch, it impressed with its "big, dazzling screen," which Panos Panay, head of Microsoft's Surface division, referred to as a "pixel-free" display.
The experts at DisplayMate are in agreement.
"Microsoft has produced an excellent professional grade high performance display for Windows," DisplayMate President Raymond M. Soneira wrote in his extensive analysis of the device. "In fact, based on our extensive lab tests and measurements, the Surface Pro 3 has one of the very best and most accurate displays available on any mobile platform and OS."
Despite the screen's 216 pixels per inch (PPI), lower than competing tablets such as the Apple iPad Air (264 PPI) and the 10.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S (287 PPI), the Surface Pro 3 holds its own, said Soneira. At 12 inches, Microsoft's tablet is typically held further away, meaning that at "typical viewing distances of 16 inches or more the pixels are not resolved with normal 20/20 Vision, so the display appears perfectly sharp."
The Surface Pro 3 was also hailed for its ability to produce true-to-life colors better than any mobile device that DisplayMate has encountered. Soneira said the computing slate can generate "the most accurate on-screen colors of any tablet or smartphone display that we have ever measured for the sRGB/Rec.709 Standard that is used in virtually all current consumer content for digital cameras, HDTVs, the internet, and computers, including photos, videos, and movies."
In terms of brightness, however, the Surface Pro 3 stumbles somewhat. While ranked as "very good," the tablet's peak brightness was measured at 371 nits behind the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX (527 nits) and iPad Air (449 nits). Viewing angle performance is "excellent," stated Soneira, with "with no visually noticeable color shifts."
Microsoft credits the Surface Pro 3's superior screen, in part, to a manufacturing process called optical bonding. "This means that the pieces (glass, LCD …) that make up the screen are bonded to each other and that there is no empty space," explained Rajesh Dighde, director of engineering at Microsoft, in a July 30 blog post detailing the technology behind the touch screen. The benefits of using this process include increased contrast due to reduced glare and reflectance, he said, as well as a stronger, more rigid screen.
For now, Samsung retains a light edge in tablet displays. "The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 remains the top performing mobile display in our Display Technology Shoot-Out series; however, the Surface Pro 3 is neck-to-neck with the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 in most performance categories," stated Soneira.