Display shootout pits the iPad 3 against the Surface

The experts over at DisplayMate have put together another display shootout, this time pitting the Retina screen of the iPad 3 against that of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet and Samsung’s older Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Galaxy Tab was really just thrown in for good measure here, the real shootout is between the first two.

Last month, a Microsoft engineer claimed that although the Surface has a lower resolution than the iPad, 1366 x 768 vs 2048 x 1536, its display can still outperform it. DisplayMate’s Raymond Soneira laughed off the claim, saying there was no way this was possible. And now he has the head-to-head tests to prove it…

Microsoft engineer Steve Bathiche told a Reddit audience last month that the Surface’s ClearType technology can reduce the glare from reflected light enough to beat out the iPad’s Retina display. And while DisplayMate found the Surface does have the lowest screen reflectance of any tablet, it isn’t enough to beat the iPad.

“The display on the Microsoft Surface RT outperforms all of the standard resolution full size 10 inch Tablets that we have tested in our Display Shoot-Out series. In particular, on-screen text is significantly sharper, it has a better factory display calibration, and also significantly lower screen Reflectance than the iPad 2 and all full size 1280×800 Android Tablets. But it is not as sharp as the iPad 3 or 4, nor does it have their large full Color Gamut. We’ll have to wait for the high resolution Windows Pro Tablets that will be launching in early 2013 for direct comparisons with the high resolution iPads and Android Tablets.”

The Surface fell short of the iPad 3 in screen resolution, color gamut — the range of colors a display can produce — and overall viewing tests. DisplayMate says that because of its lower color gamut (57%), the Surface is unable to produce saturated and vibrant colors, like fire engine red. Instead, it would shift towards orange.

In the end, DisplayMate found that the Surface can hold its own against tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and iPad 2, which have been around for more than a year. But it doesn’t compare to newer iPad models. Raymond Soneira says that when Microsoft launches its 1920 × 1080 Surface Pro tablet, he’ll be happy to do it all again.