Some New Surface Pro Owners Complain About Light Bleed

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 30 Comments

Some New Surface Pro Owners Complain About Light Bleed

I’ve now received several emails from readers complaining of a light bleed issue in the new Surface Pro. But I’m not really sure this is an endemic hardware problem.

But let me at least document what I see, what readers have told me, and the wider complaints on Microsoft’s support forums.

“[Does] anyone have this new light leak issue on Surface Pro?” a reader asked on July 7, in an email that included a short video showing a light bleed right in the center of the screen.

That’s unusual-looking, and I advised swapping out the device. But it isn’t what most Surface Pro light bleed complainers are seeing. Instead, most are seeing light bleed at the top and/or bottom screen edges.

In another email from this past weekend, an unhinged emailer accused me of being “clearly biased” for Microsoft for ignoring this problem. While antagonistic, this one at least encapsulates the issue most are seeing.

“Why aren’t any of the tech sites reporting the prominent backlight bleed display defect in ALL Surface Pro 2017 devices?” the emailer questions. “There has been no response from Microsoft one month after product launch. It is the second most unanswered issue on the forums (after the hibernation issues which they claim to have resolved with a firmware update).”

This person compares the issue to Apple’s Antennagate event, where a hardware design issue prevented the iPhone 4 from getting a clear cell signal while it was being held normally. At that time, Apple said, a bit disingenuously, that all smart phones suffered from this issue, called attenuation. Which is only technically true: The iPhone 4’s attenuation problems were the worst in any shipping handset.

So how does this compare to Antennagate? Well, all portable PCs suffer from some level of light bleed, so there’s that. It all comes down to individual PC designs, variances in individual build quality, and other factors. More to the point, I review a dozen or so portable PCs every year. And I see some level of light bleed on virtually every PC I use. Heck, I see it on iPhones too, along with other weird issues related to screens being jammed into ultra-thin form factors.

So when I look at my own 2017-era Surface Pro, I see no light bleed at all in normal usage. Which explains why I am so “Microsoft biased” and didn’t mention it in my review. But you can contort things to see a bit of light bleed by hiding the taskbar and using a solid color as the background image. It’s there, a little bit. Just like it is on other PCs.

In the Microsoft support forums, there are some photos of light bleed. You’ll note that all are using a blue (or other solid color) background that you normally don’t stare at all day long.

So … Does the new Surface Pro emit some light bleed at one or more screen edges? Yes, as with most other modern PCs, it does. Does the location and amount of light bleed vary by device? Clearly. Does it impact “ALL” new Surface Pros? I can’t say, but I can say this: The amount of light bleed, and one’s acceptance of this, varies by device for sure.

Is that light bleeding at the bottom? I guess.

I struggled to take a photo that would show light bleed on my own Surface Pro, but I’m just not seeing it as worse-than-usual or notable in any way. Is there technically “some” light bleed? Yes. But it doesn’t bother me. And I do not notice it. In fact, the light bleed is worse on my Surface Book; in fact, it’s on the top and bottom. Which also doesn’t bother me.

Anyway, I’ve tossed aside my normal Microsoft bias—cough—to report on this issue. I hope that the customers bothered by this get a resolution from Microsoft. And that, in many ways, is the real story: How, and if, Microsoft responds to this issue. Whether its real, exaggerated, or just imagined.

And if you are seeing a light bleed, here’s an idea. Just sign-in to Windows and use the computer. It goes away when you do that.


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