Microsoft also takes issue with criticism on $599 (with keyboard) base price, argues it's a great value

While Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) late CEO Steven P. Jobs may have been the king of "reality distortion", with famous comments to customers like "You're holding it wrong," Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has been trying its best to earn that elite status with recent comments regarding the upcoming Surface tablet.

I. Microsoft to Redditors: You're Looking at it Wrong

In comments on Reddit's "ask me anything" series (which notably featured President Obama as a past guest), The Microsoft Surface team offered up a bit of spin.

When asked:
  • Do you think ~$700 is too much for a tablet that does not currently own a share of the market?
  • I noticed that the Surface has a resolution of 1366×768 vs the iPad3 2048×1536. Do you think this will affect users considering the Surface vs the iPad ?
He replied:

Screen resolution is one component of perceived detail. The true measure of resolvability of a screen called Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), not Pixels. MTF is a combination of both contrast and resolution. There are over a dozen subsystems that effect this MTF number.. Most folks just focus on one number out of dozens that effect perceived detail. Without good contrast resolution decreases. Check out contrast sensitivity of the human eye graph (" rel="nofollow) and if you want more see the links below.

Basically, as resolution/DPI increases the eye has becomes less sensitive. So as a result, the amount of light in a room and the reflections off the screen have a huge effect on the contrast of the display.... we designed a custom 10.6” high-contrast wide-angle screen LCD screen. Lastly we optically bonded the screen with the thinnest optical stack anywhere on the market.. something which is more commonly done on phones we are doing on Surface. While this is not official, our current Cleartype measurements on the amount of light reflected off the screen is around 5.5%-6.2%, the new IPad has a measurement of 9.9% mirror reflections (see the displaymate link:" rel="nofollow). Doing a side by side with the new iPad in a consistently lit room, we have had many people see more detail on Surface RT than on the Ipad with more resolution.

In other words, the Surface Team is arguing that because Surface's screen was design to have less glare, it is actually perceived to be higher resolution than the iPad 3, which has roughly 3 times the pixel count -- sort of the Microsoft equivalent of "you're looking at it wrong."

That statement was quickly attacked.  PurpleSfinx writes:

Yeah, I'm calling bulls--t on this one. What % is 'many'? You must have used some horribly biased maths to figure out that some people are seeing more detail on a 1366768 screen than a 20481536 one. Resolution isn't the only indicator of screen quality, but it's generally the most important one, and any way you cut it.

No one really backed up the glare statement, but some did seem to prickle at the criticism as the pro-iPad critics were downrated, despite giving seeming legitimate arguments that went mostly unrequited.

II. Price Also Draws Commenter Ire

When asked about the decision to price it at $599 USD for the base 32 GB model + cover, Microsoft comments:

When you start to see it includes touch cover, clear type display with better contrast, twice as much storage, along with Office included, you have a pretty cool deal. I think you will find the value is extraordinary once you start using the product.

In other words, a tablet with similar processing hardware, but tactile keyboard, full Office, full USB/peripheral compatibility, expandable memory, and 16 GB of extra storage, but with one-third the pixels and less apps is worth an extra $100 USD.

It's an interesting argument -- Microsoft is right, it certainly does offer some compelling features, but its price is higher and despite the spin, the screen is lower resolution.  Thus whether Microsoft's opinion is "right" or "wrong" likely largely boils down to what users are looking for.

But it's hard to argue that Microsoft would be facing quite as much debate if it had set the price with keyboard at, say, $499 USD.

Some other interesting info offered:
  • The size of the OS + OfficeRT + "a bunch of apps" is about 20 GB; Microsoft you can use swappable SD cards for your music, movie, and photo needs if you fill up past the 32 GB ($499 threshold) or 64 GB ($699 USD) threshold.
  • Microsoft claims that its research indicates that only 1/3rd of tablets sold are broadband capable, and of those half go unactivated (which would suggest only 1/6th of tablets have working 3G/4G data access).
  • USB 3.0 was not added due to ARM SoC incompatibility
  • Bluetooth 4.0 is supported, and Xbox 360 controllers are compatible with Surface games
  • The Surface lacks a GPS sensor
The Surface is a pretty interesting device, certainly.  But what do you think of Microsoft's explanation of its screen and price?

Source: Reddit

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