Microsoft's new Surface tablet device, touted as both a tablet and a PC by Steve Ballmer, boasts a 10.6" display. Based on Surface's diagonal screen size, it stacks up pretty well when compared to iPad's 9.7" display, and many others in the 10.1" range. It would seem Microsoft has trumped the iPad in screen real estate.
Not so fast.
Measuring a screen diagonally is only half the story, and aspect ratio is the other. During Ballmer's presentation, I noticed how narrow and wide the Surface product was. Indeed, Surface uses a 16:9 ratio display. Compare this to Apple's iPad of 4:3, do the math, and you'll discover something quite revealing. iPad's display area is larger than Surface's by a wide margin:
iPad Display Area:
Surface Display Area:
Apple's iPad display is over 26% larger in useable surface than, well, Surface. Putting it another way, iPad delivers nearly 10 sq inches of additional usable area.
Microsoft officials would not divulge the Surface's display resolution, which would allow a calculation of ppi (pixels per inch). If Surface held the pixel density of the iPad's retina display, or even came close, you can bet Microsoft would have been touting that spec. big time. The fact that Microsoft wouldn't tell us (but repeatedly parroted the not-so-slick marketing term of "ClearType display") reveals the pixel density isn't going to be anything special.
Once we learn what the pixel count of the Surface's display is, we'll know a lot more to how this stacks up to iPad. But for now, we know Surface's 10.6" diagonally measured display is about 10" less of physical area to work with compared to any iPad ever made. Surface simply doesn't deliver that much surface.
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