Color Gamut Revisited: Illustrating The Surface's Weakness
In Microsoft Surface Review, Part 1: Performance And Display Quality, we specifically complained that the Surface's color saturation (that is, the range of colors it can reproduce) is just 41% of the AdobeRGB 1998 and 60% of the sRGB gamut. You might have seen that, scratched your head, and said, "Geez, OK. Whatever."
Admittedly, it's difficult to explain our results without a few pictures. So we're back to help clarify what the Surface's screen means to you.
For the most part, you won't notice an issue with the Surface, even when it's sitting side by side next to a third-gen iPad, which we've praised in the past. The Surface's contrast ratio is so high that its weak gamut is not obvious.
But if you dial back brightness in order to achieve the better battery life we demonstrated on page one, Microsoft's tablet doesn't look as hot. Readers and vendors alike want to see tablet and smartphone screens tested at the same luminescence, so we oblige by presenting performance a couple of different ways. But there are consequences. Behold...
Both tablets are calibrated to the same brightness setting. However, colors appear lighter because of the level of color saturation. For example, on the third-gen iPad, the blue morning glory appears richer and more vivid, since the display can reproduce dark blues more accurately while still providing enough differentiation from the lighter border regions. If you look at the Surface, the same areas are harder to tell apart.
In short, any image with a wide array of colors won't look as pretty, and you're not going to come away as impressed by the Surface's screen quality compared to some of the other tablets we've reviewed.