The Surface's display doesn't knock our socks off (that would have been difficult after using a third-gen iPad, anyway). When we look closer, through a microscope, we see that the Surface's 10.6” 1366x768 screen is an S-IPS panel.
Typically, IPS technology is known for good color production, albeit occasionally at the cost of contrast ratio. However, we’ve seen TN-based displays capable of outperforming IPS-based panels.
Armed with our X-Rite i1Pro, we're able to determine that this display at its maximum brightness goes head-to-head with Apple's third-gen iPad. Contrast ratio looks great, too, and the Surface tops our charts.
Gamma and color temperature both look accurate at 2.2 and 6500 K, respectively. However, color saturation (that is, the range of colors the display can reproduce) is just 41% of the AdobeRG 1998 and 60% of the sRGB gamut. Those are two of the lowest scores we've seen, only edging out Asus' Transformer Prime. When it comes to dark hues, the Surface has a hard time reproducing accurate colors. Instead, it simply boosts contrast ratio to make everything appear brighter. This is most apparent while watching movies. The dark scenes in Iron Man, for instance, appear more muted than they do on other tablets.