Microsoft Surface 3 has industry-leading display quality

Reading time icon 4 min. read

Readers help support Windows Report. We may get a commission if you buy through our links. Tooltip Icon

Read our disclosure page to find out how can you help Windows Report sustain the editorial team Read more

The Surface 3 is an excellent tablet that offers real PC capabilities in a form factor that rivals more limited tablets like Apple’s iPad Air 2, and even the iPad Pro. The Surface 3 runs full Windows 10, and thus enjoys access to the largest library of applications on the planet, is relatively thin and light for such a powerful machine, and is an affordable option. According to DisplayMate, makers of various products related to enhancing display quality, the Surface 3 also has one of the best displays on the market.
DisplayMate analyses delve into a number of key details in determining a display’s quality. Everything from brightness to color accuracy to sharpness and power usage are measured, analyzed, and compared to the relevant competition. In many categories, the Surface 3 led the pack, even against more expensive competition, and Microsoft’s entry-level tablet was competitive in almost every category that DisplayMate considers.
The Surface 3 has a 10.8″ IPS/PLS display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1920X1280 pixels. Pixels per inch (PPI), which defines how sharp a display is and whether pixels can be seen at typical viewing distances (which Apple defines as “Retina” quality), stands at 214PPI, which makes the display “perfectly sharp” at 16.1 inches. Microsoft’s ClearType sub-pixel rendering further improves text quality.
DisplayMate presents their quantitative analysis in handy tables that provides ratings of Green, Yellow, and Red (essentially best to worst), and the Surface 3 is one of only a handful of displays that have rated almost all Greens across the board. The only exception is brightness decrease as viewing angle increases, where the Surface 3 joins all devices using LCD technology to score a Red for a large decrease.

DisplayMate summary assessment of Surface 3 display.
DisplayMate summary assessment of Surface 3 display.

Areas of particular strength, where the Surface 3’s display received Very Good or Excellent ratings, include:

  • Contrast Ratio
  • Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light
  • Screen Readability in High Ambient Light
  • Black Brightness at 0 lux
  • Lowest Peak Brightness
  • Color of White
  • Relative Power Efficiency

The Surface 3 receives specific praise for being one of a select few devices with displays that maximize color accuracy in typical indoor ambient lighting conditions. While most displays are calibrated in the dark (0 lux), the Surface 3’s display was optimized to provide excellent colors in the conditions where most people use their devices, specifically where ambient lighting is somewhere around 300 lux). The Surface 3 is tied with the Surface Pro 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 in this important metric.
DIsplayMate concludes that the Surface 3 is an all-around excellent display:

Based on our extensive Lab tests and measurements on the display for the Surface 3, Microsoft has produced an excellent high performance display for Windows. In fact, the Surface 3 has one of the very best and most accurate displays available on any mobile platform and OS. It joins near the top of a small set of Tablets that have excellent top tier displays – ideal for both professionals that need a very accurate high performance display for their work, and for consumers that want and appreciate a really nice and beautiful display.
The Surface 3 delivers uniformly consistent all around Top Tier display performance: it is only one of a few displays to ever to get all Green (Very Good to Excellent) Ratings in all test and measurement categories (except for Brightness variation with Viewing Angle, which is the case for all LCDs) since we started the Display Technology Shoot-Out article Series in 2006, an impressive achievement for a display. See the Shoot-Out Comparison Table for the detailed test and measurement results. Comparisons with the other leading Tablets are examined below.

If you’re in the market for an entry-level tablet, then head over to the DisplayMate site and check out the complete analysis. You can add a superior display to the already-excellent value represented by Microsoft’s most affordable tablet.