Microsoft Defends Low Resolution of Surface Media Tablet on Windows RT

Microsoft Claims Low-Resolution Displays on Surface RT Not a Problem

by Anton Shilov
10/17/2012 | 11:52 PM

It is not a secret that Microsoft Surface media tablet based on Windows RT features rather outdated screen with 1366*768 resolution. But apparently Microsoft Corp. believes that the screen is just right as the resolution itself is not everything about the screen itself, other factors are also very important.


"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," wrote Stevie Bathich, an applied sciences department manager at Microsoft, in a post over at Reddit.

According to the Microsoft representative, as resolution/DPI increases, the eye becomes less sensitive. 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 smoothes 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," explained Mr. Batlich.

Microsoft's unofficial current ClearType measurements on the amount of light reflected off the screen is around 5.5% - 6.2%, whereas the new iPad has a measurement of 9.9% mirror reflections.

"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," stressed the applied sciences department manager at Microsoft.

While Microsoft admits that higher resolution provides more workspace, the software giant believes that media tablets aimed at consumers do not necessarily need to provide that. Unfortunately, low resolution will always be Achilles' heel of Surface with Windows RT as it will be compared to Apple's third-generation iPad (2048*1536) as well as rumoured Google/Samsung Nexus 10" (2560*1600).