Microsoft Surface ClearType HD Display

Anand Lai Shimpi, AnandTech:

Although Surface RT only ships with a 1366 x 768 panel, Microsoft was quick to point out that there’s more to display quality than pure resolution.

That’s what you say when you don’t have enough pixels, but he does have a point.

Surface’s 10.6-inch panel features an optically bonded LCD and cover glass stack, similar to what we’ve seen in most modern, high-end smartphones. Optical bonding is expensive to do and not as common in large tablet panels, but Microsoft believes it can do so at reasonable yields on Surface.

The iPad’s cover glass isn’t optically bonded to the LCD, and it shows. The Surface ClearType HD display is a step ahead.

The optically bonded cover glass + LCD stack reduces internal reflections, thus reducing glare and increasing light transmission.

The difference between a display with an optically bonded cover glass can be easily seen by comparing the iPhone 4 and the iPad.

One clever trick is that Microsoft, through various coatings, index matches between the touch sensor’s ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) array and the cover glass, once again in pursuit of fewer reflections.

This is definitely clever, but a trick nonetheless. The better solution would have been to go with in-cell touch, which is what Apple did with the iPhone 5.

Update 2012.10.29: iFixit tore down the Surface and found the 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display to be supplied by Samsung with model number LT106AL01-002.

Update 2012.11.12: Raymond Soneira:

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. The Lab tests and measurements documented in the Shoot-Out Comparison Table indicate that Microsoft has paid a lot of attention to display performance for the Surface RT. 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.

The 10.6-inch 1366×768 ClearType HD Display used in the Microsoft Surface RT is the best there is among 10-inch tablets with non-retina displays. The only problem is the $499 10-inch tablet world has moved on, to retina displays. Even the smaller Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ sports a 1920×1200 pixel format for just $299. The Google Nexus 10 is $100 less and packs in 2560×1600 pixels. But at $499 Surface RT is really going up against the $499 iPad, which sports a brilliant 9.7-inch 2048×1536 LCD. The display makes the tablet. Microsoft fell short with the 10.6-inch 1366×768 ClearType HD Display and is asking too much for its Surface RT.