SB2 15" display and sRGB/Enhanced settings

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Book' started by wynand32, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    So, for anyone who has an SB2 15", a somewhat obscure (and maybe really picky) question...

    On the Surface Pro, Microsoft implemented the same sort of enhanced display modes as I understand are present on the SB2. Namely, they implemented two new ICC color profiles, sRGB and Enhanced, and selecting either of those changed not just the colors but the contrast as well.

    When I was looking at that machine, I noticed that the display's whites were affected, such that it didn't have the same "pure white" and high black/white contrast as on my SP4. It was most noticeable when looking at Chrome, where the gray tab background wasn't as discernable from the white address field with either of the new ICC profiles enabled.

    If I ran the Windows calibration tool, without actually changing anything, the whites shifted and it looked the same to me as my SP4. Funny enough, my wife actually preferred the Surface Pro's coloring versus the SP4's, demonstrating that maybe I'm an outlier here.

    What I'm wondering is if Microsoft fixed/adjusted this and if the same effect exists with the SB2 15".
     
  2. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    So, I received my SB2 15 1GB, and went ahead and looked into this. The answer is that there's the same effect as with the Surface Pro. The two color settings to shift the white point/temperature, but it's not quite as glaring as on the Surface Pro because frankly, the display on this SB2 isn't nearly as good. And when I say that, I mean strictly in terms of the white point/temperature -- to my eyes, it has a slightly yellowish cast that cuts into the contrast as I described above when using Chrome.
    I've seen displays like this before with Surface machines, and in fact swapped out a Surface Pro 4 because of it. Because I'm also not 100% happy with the SB2 15 in any case, I'm going to try out an SB2 13 to see if I like it better. I'm hopeful that I get a display I'll be happier with because the SB2 13 apparently uses exactly the same panel as the previous SB models, and I liked those just fine when I've used them.
     
  3. sharpuser

    sharpuser Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the observations, @wynand32 ,

    I disagree with you regarding the "Enhanced" and "sRGB" settings. I like them both, but prefer "Enhanced". The displays do not look yellowish to me, and since I do work with Pantone, this is important. Others in my field also are happy with the "Enhanced" setting of the SB2.

    Of course, this is a matter of taste and perception.

    My unit is the 15 inch Surface Book 1TB.
     
  4. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    Well, in my experience if you were to hold the display of a Surface Pro 4 next to that of (at least my) SB2 15, you'd notice that there's a distinct white point/temperature difference between the displays. That's out of the box with either the sRGB or the Enhanced setting enabled. This isn't about how colors look, but strictly about whites (e.g., a blank Word page, the Chrome address bar, etc.).

    If you run through the Windows calibration tool without actually changing anything (this works on the Surface Pro as well), it will create a third color profile that shows up in the picker. On a Surface Pro that I used, that color profile created a white point/temp that was identical to that of my Surface Pro 4, and distinctly more "white" to my eyes than either the sRGB or the Enhanced profile. On my SB2, running through the calibration tool creates a white point/temp that's just slightly closer to the Surface Pro 4, but still appears "yellowish" to my eyes when held side-by-side.

    Now, there are a few things to note:

    1. When I tried out an original Surface Book, the whites on the display out of the box were roughly identical to my Surface Pro 4. The SB2 13-inch uses the same Panasonic display as the OG SB, so I'm thinking it might also be similar.

    2. I'm guessing most people would never notice anything unless they hold the two devices (SP4 and SB2) side by side. One's eyes tend to adjust somewhat to whatever the white point is in any case. However, as I noted, on my Surface Pro 4 the difference is most evident in, say, the grey background in Chrome that surrounds the address bar -- there's simply significantly more contrast between the grey and the white. To me, the SB2's display just doesn't provide the same experience as I love with the SP4 (and the SP3 before it).

    3. Some people might not even prefer the white point/temp as I'm describing it here. I know of at least one person who ran through the process I've described on another Surface Pro, noted the difference I'm talking about, and preferred the sRGB/Enhanced version. My wife (an interior designer with a great eye for color) notices the difference and shares my preference. So it's a matter of taste.

    That's a lot of writing to describe something that most people might not care about.
     
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  5. chekhonte

    chekhonte Member

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    I've done a lot of color balancing and I think that there you and I wynand are of similar minds. We see color balanced monitors as being a little too warm. I have several factory calibrated monitors and they all feel far too warm in tone. I have stupid pet theories as to why that may be but it ultimately doesn't matter.

    I wanted to add that I appreciate you sharing. It's bugging me a bit too. I don't think I'm going to return mine. I might use 3rd party software to try to juke the contrast setting a bit. I'm too in love with those 2 extra inches for drawing to give it up over my mild disappointment in the display.
     
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  6. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    Glad you jumped in and confirmed, so I don't have to feel crazy and/or worry that my SB2 is just defective. :) Also, it's good to hear something of an explanation, and that the 15-inch display is likely just this way -- so thanks for that. At least what Microsoft is doing there makes sense somehow, and I don't need to bother swapping out to see if another unit is better.

    I understand what you're saying about the size difference, given that you draw. That makes perfect sense. For me, I've actually found the 15-inch to be just a touch bigger than I expected and a tad unwieldy in a lap because it's taller. As a writer, I do benefit by being able to have two nicely-sized windows side-by-side, but I remembered being fine with the 13.5-inch SB I tried out. Of course, as a writer, I also spend a lot of time staring at white screens with black lettering.

    The bottom line is that if the 13.5-inch display is the way I prefer it, then I'll probably go with it rather than the 15. I won't mind having a fanless tablet, and I really don't need the extra power.
     
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  7. chekhonte

    chekhonte Member

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    I've settled for enhanced in color management while stipping down red channel by two steps and and green by one using the calibration tool. Overall I can be satisfied with this.
     
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  8. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome, thanks. It's certainly something to keep in mind as I make this decision. A minimum of $2600 is a lot for me to spend on a notebook, it has to be right.
     
  9. chekhonte

    chekhonte Member

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    If you do end up with the 13 inch let us know what you think. I'm most likely going to get my wife that for her birthday.
     
  10. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    Sure will. It's actually arriving later today, so I should have some thoughts on it pretty soon.
     
  11. flar

    flar Member

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    Have you tried to calibrate it with a Spyder/X-Rite device?
     
  12. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    I haven't, no. I'm not going to do anything serious until I've had a chance to see what the 13.5-inch model is like. I have other reasons for thinking I might prefer the smaller version, so we'll see.
     

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