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I love technology. Plain and simple. You can generally find me writing software, figuring out how to get rid of cable, playing on my Xbox, or traveling around this country speaking about software development. If you're doing something cool with technology, let me know. I'd love to hear your story about something amazing. You can find my blog at jeffblankenburg.com Jeff is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 71 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Surface RT vs. iPad: A Comparison

10.20.2012
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Tuesday, with the release of pricing and pre-orders for the new Surface RT devices, Twitter exploded with comparisons to the iPad.  So, I decided to put together a little comparison chart to contrast two equivalent models.

 

Surface RT 32 GB

New iPad 32GB

Cost

$499.00

$599.00

Both of these are the basic version, and do not come with any accessories.

Let’s add a keyboard and screen cover to the mix.

 

Surface RT 32 GB

New iPad 32 GB

Cost

$499.00

$599.00

Keyboard

$119.00 or $129.00

$69.00

Screen Cover

$0.00

$39.00

Total Cost

$628.00

$707.00

Now you can use either device to surf the web, check email, and play some games.

What if you want to catch up on some work with spreadsheets, presentations, or documents?

 

Surface RT 32 GB

New iPad 32 GB

Cost

$499.00

$599.00

Keyboard

$129.00

$69.99

Screen Cover

$0.00

$39.00

Word Processor

$0.00
Word 2013 RT

$9.99
Pages for iOS

Spreadsheet

$0.00
Excel 2013 RT

$9.99
Numbers for iOS

Presentation

$0.00
Powerpoint 2013 RT

$9.99
Keynote for iOS

Note Taking

$0.00
OneNote 2013 RT

$0.00
Evernote

Total Cost

$628.00

$736.97

Ok, so we’ve addressed costs of ownership.  Surface is ahead by about $115 at this point.  Now let’s look at the strengths of each device:

iPad

The number one differentiator for the iPad has to be its screen.  The Retina display is without question the best screen on the market for any device, and is certainly something that should be considered when you’re buying a tablet.  I would be willing to bet that some people will say that the Retina screen is worth the additional $115 you’re paying for an iPad, but I don’t think it will be the majority.

Number two has to be the application ecosystem that exists for iOS devices.  When I hear about 600,000 apps, I’m just in awe.  As I’ve stated many times on this website before, however, I don’t think it’s the right number for comparison.  Nobody is using more than a couple dozen applications on their device.  You might have many more than that installed, but you’re not using them.  In fact, this summer a report was released that showed that 2/3 of the apps in Apple’s store had never been downloaded

I believe it’s far more important to have the “right” apps, and with such a new ecosystem for Microsoft, Apple still wins this one hands down.  Microsoft is making strides, but it’s going to take some time.

Finally, there’s the accessories market.  You want to treat your iPad like a steering wheel? There’s a case for that.  Want to mount it in a retro gaming cabinet?  You got it.  Just about anything you can imagine already exists for the iPad.  Since the Surface isn’t even available yet, you can guess how many accessories there are for it.  None.

Surface

Despite iPad’s strengths, the Surface RT holds it own in several other categories.

First, there’s a full-size USB 2.0 port.  This means you can connect your existing peripheral devices, including a mouse, printer, or phone to your tablet. (Ever wish you could charge your phone with your iPad?) This also makes moving movies or other large files to and from your device super easy with a USB thumb drive.

Second, it accepts MicroSD cards.  This means that you can expand your on-board memory up to an additional 64GB!  You can’t add additional memory to an iPad.  The average 64GB microSD card costs about $60.  Add to this that just about everything on your device will also be stored using SkyDrive, and you’re unlikely to ever run out of space on this thing.

Third, Windows 8 provides a true multi-user experience. (Thanks to @lmaung for the reminder.)  My entire family can each have their own credentials on the Surface RT, which includes their own apps, settings, Start screen layout, files, levels, etc.  In short, it allows each of us to treat the device as our own.

Finally, there’s the integrated screencover/keyboard and kickstand.  On either device, you don’t ever “need” a keyboard.  The on-screen keyboard is perfectly sufficient to knock out a quick tweet or Facebook message, or even a short email.  But any lengthy amount of typing is inconvenient.  With Surface’s Touch or Type covers + the kickstand, you’re always capable of turning your tablet into a laptop.  Yes, the iPad’s Smart Cover can prop up your device, but you will still need to tote an additional bluetooth keyboard around if you want this option.  I think this is a big win for the Surface RT, especially because it also includes an integrated mouse trackpad as well.  Try doing that on an iPad.

Summary

With the Surface RT not even available for another 10 days, there’s LOTS to prove yet.  However, I truly believe that Microsoft has made a strong, bold move here with this set of devices, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on one soon.  Having used Windows 8 for the past few months, I’m a convert.

It’s time for all of you, my faithful readers, to tell me why I’m wrong.  If you were shopping for your first tablet today, which one would you buy?

                        

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Published at DZone with permission of Jeff Blankenburg, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)