DisplayMate's testing of the only two new Windows RT tablets available this year shows a huge display performance gap between Nokia's excellent Lumia 2520 and the mediocre Microsoft Surface 2.
DisplayMate's president Dr Raymond Soneira didn't mince his words: "With virtually identical functionality and OS software...The display on the Nokia Lumia 2520 is impressive while the Microsoft Surface 2 is mediocre and a disappointment."
To be fair, the Surface 2 looks doubly poor only because it's in competition with the Lumia 2520, which DisplayMate says has one of the best screens it has ever tested. Dr Soneira praised the Lumia 2520's high maximum brightness, which is "by far" the most luminous display the company has ever tested.
At a maximum brightness level of 684cd/m2, the Lumia 2520's display is a full 74 per cent brighter than the Surface 2's maximum 394cd/m2 and even beats the otherwise impressive iPad Air's 449 cd/m2.
Despite delivering good performance for text-based applications like Microsoft Office, thanks to its Full HD 1080p screen resolution, the Surface 2's display is measurably worse than the competition: "Other than its higher screen resolution, the Microsoft Surface 2 display is actually somewhat worse than last year's original Surface RT, with many of the primary display specs now 5 to 10 per cent worse," said Soneira.
Apart from the colour gamut being improved from 57 per cent to 63 per cent of the sRGB standard, brightness, contrast, reflectivity and white balance point are all shortcomings of the Surface 2. The Lumia 2520, on the other hand, has a 20 per cent better colour gamut than the Surface 2 (although that's still 25 per cent short of some other tablets), and its extremely high brightness makes it far more versatile for everyday use.
DisplayMate notes one positive aspect of both tablets. Windows RT's sub-pixel rendering routine — which treats the red, green and blue elements of each screen pixel independently — is able to provide as much as three times the effective resolution of regular pixel rendering.