How would I recommend Surface RT over the New Ipad?
Ever since Microsoft announced Windows 8 (W8) and Windows RT (WRT), they were inevitably compared to the ipad and of course IOS on which it runs. When the Surface RT was announced, the comparison made even more sense (and more logical). As I see it, the Surface RT is really Microsoft's direct answer to the ipad.
There are posts everywhere comparing the two, and there has been a recent post here in the forums asking (genuinely, he claimed) why someone would choose the Surface RT over the new ipad. I had some thoughts and so I'm posting it here.
Before anything else, I want to make it clear that this is not intended to start any sort of flame war or whatnot. This is really an honest answer to the seemingly honest question. If a friend of mine actually wanted advice on whether to but an ipad or the Surface RT, this is what I would say.
Price and Availability
There have been a lot of arguments that go like this - "How is an ipad better than the surface RT? Well you know the price of an ipad and you can buy it now." This is by no means invalid, but it doesn't really help the comparison. So if you want a tablet and you want it NOW then by all means go get yourself an ipad.
For the price, we also don't know how much the Surface RT will cost. However, since MS said they would price the Surface RT "comparably" to other tablets, I would set it to be $599 for the sake of simplicity. From this point on, we would assume the 32GB Surface RT will cost $599, the same price as the 32GB wifi only new ipad. This will hopefully make the comparison easier.
Size and Weight
The surface RT is thinner than the ipad. The ipad is lighter. Although that's the case, I would tell my friend that he would hardly tell the difference. I say its a draw in this category.
Ports, Slots and Connectivity
The surface clearly has the advantage here. It has USB port, HDMI out and SD card slot (I'm not sure which are "mini" ports/slots but I think it doesn't matte much). The ipad has none of these. I've heard ridiculous arguments that make it seem that having these ports is somehow a disadvantage, like saying:
"Yeah it has USB ports. Goodluck being tangled on wires and being stuck on the desktop while I go wireless with the ipad."
Let's face it, this argument is simply invalid. Having these additional ports doesn't mean you have to use it. Surface RT also has wifi and bluetooth so you can go wireless if you want.
Another argument goes like this: "the ipad can also connect to peripherals using proprietary cables that connect to the proprietary port on the bottom."
Well, yeah you can do that. But which is better, having the ports built in or having to bring separate cables for different kinds of ports? And you can also only connect one device at a time.
Furthermore, the USB port of the Surface RT supports all plug'n'play devices like printers, gamepads, external hard disks, etc.
The HDMI and SD card slots need not be explained. Of course the new ipad supports AirPlay but you need special hardware for that to work. For HMDI, it can connect to any tv with HDMI, DP or VGA input.
As for the proprietary ports, each has its own. The ipad has Apple's docking port and The Surface has Microsoft's new magnetic port. Although both can connect peripherals, I give the edge on the Surface's magnetic port because, well, it's magnetic.
The reason that display has its own category is because the new ipad's display is simply awesome. That's one of its advantages over the Surface RT. However, I would actually tell my friend that he should check both screens first to see if he even sees the difference. Some people might see it, some may not.
Personally, I CAN see the difference between the screen in the ipad 2 and the new ipad. However, I don't really care. It looks better, but I wouldn't mind having a lower resolution display. My 14" laptop has had 1366x768 resolution and I'm fine with that. But give credit where its due, and Ipad wins this round, although its not a very big advantage in my opinion.
IOS vs WRT
More than anything, I think the OS behind the two devices will influence the decision of most people. In the end, its the core experience that people generally look at, and not the quality of the display or the number of ports.
I would go ahead and say this straight - WRT is easily better than IOS, in terms of UI and UX. Compare the home screen of IOS and that of WRT. In IOS, you have static icons that launch apps. In WRT, you have live tiles. Some may like IOS more on a visual standpoint because of its simplicity, but functionally, live tiles are definitely better than static icons.
Don't like live tiles? Then simply turn them off. You now have both home screens having static icons/tiles. Which is better is now purely subjective. I'm not here to say live tiles LOOK better than icons - its just that they are more functional.
How about multitasking? WRT supports snapping of apps so you can see two at the same time. Switching between apps is also easier in WRT - just one swipe to get to the previous app as opposed to double tapping the hardware button then selecting the app or four-finger swiping.
WRT also shows a preview of opened apps through the multitasking bar. In IOS, you only see the icon of the app.
Simply put, there is no file management in IOS. You can't group files into folders and do whatever. In WRT, the good ol' file explorer is there. So when you save a file, you can actually get that file and copy it somewhere else. It may not be easy to see the advantage of file management, but there are lots of cases where it would come in handy.
To make the argument short - having file management is better than not having it.
It would be bias not to include this in the comparison. After all, apps are the main stars in your tablet right? Right now, IOS wins this category because it simpy has more apps. Although I'm pretty sure the Windows Store will catch up eventually, I still have to give this one to IOS.
Although WRT may lack the apps when it first launches, its by no means dead. I mean all of the basic tablet apps are already there - music player, video player, browser, picture viewer, ebook reader. I'm sure more of the basic apps will be in the store when WRT launches.
Here are other advantages of Surface RT and WRT:
- Free Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint, maybe even OneNote)
- Touch/Type cover that acts as both cover/protector and keyboard (and thinner than any ipad keyboard)
- Integrated kickstand
Summary / TL;DR
To summarize, here are the advantages of both the ipad / IOS and the Surface RT / WRT:
ipad / IOS
- Better screen / display (Retina Display)
- Better Ecosystem (More apps)
Surface RT / WRT
- USB, HDMI and SD card slot
- Live tiles more functional than static icons
- Better multitasking
- File Managerment
- Free MS Office
- Touch / Type Cover
- Integrated Kickstand
-For the screen, the difference maybe negligible.
-For the ecosystem, core apps are present and will catch up in count later on.