Surface RT vs. New iPad: A Comparison

17 Oct

And so it has finally surfaced(pun intended), and the tech world is going into their analysis mode to determine which is better and why and which deserves our hard earned penny. So I am going to jump onto the bandwagon and offer my 2 cents. Rather than simply posting a chart and compare few bullet points, I am going to talk about what’s behind those bullet points. Bullet points are easier to look at, but there are always more to those points that everyone should take into consideration before taking out the wallet. What does higher/lower resolution means? What are the benefits of having a keyboard? What about the apps? How does having a USB port benefit me? Let’s take a look.

First thing first and let’s get this over with, that is resolution. I must say I am kind of disappointed about the resolution on RT. The resolution of 1366*768 is kind of disappointing to have, it should have been 1080p, not less but not more either. But I shall thoroughly disagree with iPad fans here and say more resolution is not necessarily better. Yes higher resolution and in turn higher pixel density is great to look at, but it does inarguably come with a few caveats, weight(if not battery life), heat, performance. iPad 3 despite having a stronger SoC inside compared to iPad 2, had visibly worse gaming graphics as this article finds.

It may come as a surprise to iPad “gamers”, but it has been a known factor to PC gamers for a long time. You should or have to upgrade your processing power sufficiently to jump the gun on resolution, which Apple did. If you can buy a new tablet every year that’s fine and maybe next year you will get the processing power that can actually support that resolution, but that’s not everybody. This does not mean that higher resolution is worse, but that does not automatically make it better either.

A critical point of debate is productivity. Are tablets purely consumption devices or more than that? Microsoft has always been forthcoming on this particular issue, and stated that in their philosophy a tablet is just another form of PC, which roughly translates to that tablet is indeed more than a consumption device in their book. On the other hand Apple has said that convergence does not work on such a device, so there’s that. But the market is a whole different game. Atypical iPad users have not attempted to use iPad as more than a consumption device but the loyal fan base have always made a case about how it can actually be used as more and I agree with them. With the bevvy of keyboard cases/covers and other peripherals made for iPad certainly make it a capable productivity device. But the question is how does the Surface fare in that department? Although you can “connect” a keyboard to an iPad, it’s not an integral part of the device workflow, meaning you can only use it as a text input add-on, but cannot perform OS level tasks with it. On the other hand a Surface, equipped with Windows RT, can take full advantage of a keyboard when available without requiring it. You can switch apps, perform search, save documents, close apps or whatever you wish to do which is the same as full blown Windows. Also I believe it is important that the apps are more than just apps and can actually communicate with each other like in Windows 8/RT which makes the apps better and saves the user lots of time.

iPad definitely has more apps, no point arguing that. So if you want to see 250,000 apps in your app store you should buy one. I think it’s quite impressive that one can find apps for almost everything in the iTunes store and Windows store is definitely lacking in that regard. But one also has to keep in mind that this is Windows store, and the same store is available to all Windows 8user. And despite the completely new start screen, Windows 8 is going to be in on more devices than any other non-Microsoft OSs and that gives developers a very strong incentive, as I have written about, to develop for it. But if you want your apps now, stick with an iPad.

Then also comes the talk about connectivity. I feel like I don’t really go into this as whoever is reading this should already be aware of this thing. iPad comes with a proprietary port whereas Surface come with a USB port. And if I have to remind you, a USB port has more use than connecting a flash drive. There has been more than a billion peripherals that are USB based. You can quite literally do anything you want with it, quite unlike the 30-pin dock connector which I might add has reached EOL. One more advantage Surface may or may not have over iPad is a HDMI port. Surface has a video out port stated as HD Video Out port in the spec sheet and an adapter to regular HDMI is available for $39. If it actually turns out to be a micro HDMI port(which it looks like in the picture at official page) that’s a big win for buyers, if not, then it’s a draw between Surface and iPad.

I am going to take a look into pricing which is what may ultimately make the decision for many people out there. For productivity minded people,

iPad 32GB (WiFi)+ Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover + iWork (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) $ 599 + $ 99 + 29.97 = $727.97
Surface RT 32GB + Touch Cover + Office(Surface RT comes with Office pre-installed for free.) $ 599

For just buy and get go people,

iPad 32GB (Wi-Fi) $599
Surface 32GB (Wi-Fi) $499

I am going to finish by posting a picture of the two,

Take your pick.

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