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Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3

Updated on January 15, 2014

Battle of Titans

Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3
Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3 | Source

Microsoft Surface is the hot news that is currently circling around Gadget World. It is a highly anticipated high-end tablet from Microsoft and was introduced on June 18th 2012 at Microsoft’s Keynote in Los Angeles. But I guess you are not that interested in these lame details, however, in order to begin, a little background information is necessary and now that we have it we are good to go with our main topic, which is, how it compares to Apple’s high end and latest tablet, i.e. iPad 3.

Let me walk you through every step in as much detail as possible and I hope that I cover everything that you need to know about Surface. However, if you still need some information that is not covered then you are welcome to leave your queries in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Display

Microsoft Surface
Apple iPad 3
10.1 inch diagonally – Both Variants
9.7 inch diagonally
Windows 8 RT – 1280X800 (Rumored)
2048X1536
Windows 8 Pro – 1920X1080 (Confirmed)
 
Clear Type HD and Full HD, respectively
 
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Surface DisplayApple iPad 3 Display
Surface Display
Surface Display | Source
Apple iPad 3 Display
Apple iPad 3 Display | Source

Surface Trailer

Apple iPad 3 beats Surface hands down, but don’t think that Surface doesn’t have quite a punch there when you watch something or read something on this tablet. I can’t obviously favor Surface here because no matter what I say, iPad 3’s resolution makes everything look amazing on it and the difference between screen-size is not that large (only 0.4 inch).

Nevertheless, I would still like to make a point here that you don’t have to discard your desire to purchase Surface only because it has lower resolution than iPad 3. If you have seen Full-HD and have worked with it then you know that everything looks absolutely amazing on Full-HD too. The Semi HD or 800p may turn you off a bit when you try to watch a Blu-ray print on your tablet, but trust me, it won’t look all that bad because currently, 1280X800 resolutions is the standard tablet resolution that is going on with other tablets.

So, you aren’t loosing anything here. But you would still prefer Full-HD over 800p anytime of the day.

Operating System

iPad 3 is based on iOS 5.1 and when you work on it, you will feel the fluidity and seamlessness that it comes with. App support is amazing for iOS 5.1 through iTunes Store and you won’t have to struggle for anything that you would like to do on this tablet.

This operating system makes even a complete newbie a total professional user of iPad 3 in no time. I have four iPad 3 in my home and they are all dedicated to elder folks in my home. My mother has placed one in her kitchen and trust me guys, it is like working with an AI right in your kitchen. She searches recipes and in a snap they are there and then procedures and what not. The voice support for iPad 3 literally amazed me because how would you interact with it if you have both of your hands messed up while cooking.

My father uses it to browse news, reminders, jogging and everything that you can ask from this tablet. Other two are for my uncles and they do business and iPad 3 has made their work a lot easier than ever. I had iPad 2 for quite a long time and when I saw all those great things in iPad 3, I decided to give my family a little taste from Apple’s Gadget Kitchen.

My point is that none of them are well versed in technical field. But they can interact with this tablet like the back of their hand. There is nothing confusing. You get everything done quickly because the processor is really fast, you get results quickly because it supports so many network options and it feels a great companion while you are alone or surrounded by people.

All of this happens because iOS 5.1 is very easy to operate and doesn’t give you time to get confused. New goodies with iOS 6.0 will make it a whole lot better. However, let’s circle back to our topic here.

Surface is based on Windows 8 and both variants feature different version of Windows 8. The lighter and cheaper version offers Windows 8 RT and heavier and expensive version offers Windows 8 Pro. Now, I had quite some time with Windows 8 and played with it since it became available for developers as well as consumers.

At that time it was too much rough and had numerous bugs. With Consumer Preview, Microsoft fixed many bugs and the operating system feels renewed and revamped. However, it still feels rough around the edges. My friend installed it on his laptop and got confused over so many things that he had to uninstall it and reinstall Windows 7.

His point was that to do something in Windows 8, you had to move around a lot. However, I couldn’t see it. I have Windows 8 installed as well and though it still hangs up a lot, I can do things as fast as I used to do with Windows 7. In my opinion Windows 8 is great. It is not a completely revamped version or a completely new operating system. They could have gone with Service pack 2 or 3 or something.

But in order to use it with their future gadgets, they had to name it Windows 8, so that they can call it a Cloud Operating System. Let me explain that name a little bit.

In my previous article related to Microsoft Surface release date, I pointed out that Windows 8 will bring our work and entertainment space together and closer than ever. You see, iOS 5.1 is great and all that, but you still have to worry about compatible softwares. As a matter of fact, you have to install different software for each operating system.

You have to install different package for iOS 5.1 and Mountain Lion (or whatever version you have on your Mac). This makes editing files impossible because many important types of software are not available for both versions. So, you have to close your work and copy it on a machine that supports your file and then you edit it. It hampers your productivity and wastes your time which is very precious when you do something important.

Now, Windows 8 supports desktop and laptops. If you have used it then you know that it was optimized for touch panel and non-touch panel as well. Surface also has Windows 8 as its operating system and that is why you get the best compatibility between your applications that you can ever hope for. This is why I used the term Cloud Operating System, it is not an official term but I think that it should be.

With Windows 8 on your desktop, laptop and your Surface, you can move around your work and entertainment seamlessly. You don’t have to leave the familiar environment that you establish with your applications. I hope that the underlying point is clear.

Say that you are familiar with MS Word and you like the way it handles your documents or you like Excel because it’s really easy to handle your database with and do calculations with it. Now, you don’t have sit around on your desktop and finish it. You have to leave the place, no problem; you can go anywhere you want and work on your database while you are on the move with Surface.

I know that you already use a laptop for that purpose but that is the idea. Surface is meant to replace your current tablet and your laptop. It offers simplicity and elegance with its design and Windows 8 feels a lot like Windows 7, so you don’t have to learn anything new. Everything feels familiar and you get so comfortable while using it that you curse Microsoft for not making it sooner, but you do praise them for making it later.

I’d have to give Surface an edge for this category because of the Cloud Operating System thing. Simplicity is what technology should be about. It should not be tedious and pain for the brain. Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows 7 are great at delivering simplicity and since, Windows 8 has that little yet crucial edge, I would like to favor Surface here.

Your views are welcome and I would love to hear the possibilities of Cloud Operating System.

Windows 8 Release Preview Trailer

Dimensions

Apple has made technology a really beautiful thing. Their gadgets are a pleasure to be taken with you everywhere and they complement your style (whoever you are and whatever you do). iPad continued that history and iPad 3 took it up a notch. Here are the dimensions for both devices.

Microsoft Surface
Apple iPad 3
Windows 8 RT – 9.3 – mm
241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4 mm
Windows 8 Pro – 13.5 mm
 

As you can see, RT’s version is just .1 mm thinner than iPad 3. Since other dimensions of Surface are unknown at this moment. I will keep this category short and will talk about the design of both gadgets.

iPad 3 definitely feels great in your hands. It is bigger, yeah, but it doesn’t hurt your palm and the edges don’t sprain your hands when you are holding it. It feels great in both modes, i.e. landscape and portrait. It is really thin considering the power of this product and the material feels superb when you touch it.

Surface has chamfered edges and they feel absolutely great when you are holding it. It is true that it gives you a feeling that you are holding just the screen in front of you and that feeling is amazing. You actually interact with Surface in a different manner because of this. It helps the screen pop up a little because there is no extra edge lurking around the device and like iPad 3, the material feels superb when you are holding it.

Fortunately, I would support both products here because iPad 3 also features the same pop-up display because it also has beveled edges that help that virtual sense of holding just the screen and not the whole device.

Processor and Graphics

Microsoft Surface
Apple iPad 3
Windows 8 RT – Nvidia ARM
Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9
Windows 8 Pro – Intel Core i5 3rd Generation Ivy Bridge and variant
 
Graphics – RT – ULP GeForce
PowerVR SGX543MP4 Quad Core
Pro – Intel HD 4000
 

iPad 3’s performance is great and the tablet doesn’t hang or stutter even while multitasking. This could be due to amazing iOS 5.1 operating system or the fact that all apps use low CPU power in iPad 3. The point still remains that what will happen if you throw something heavy at it. Till now, I couldn’t find a single video file that this tablet couldn’t play. I opened several images quickly, scrolled as fast as I could move my finger and played many-many games on it and it never let me down. So, this tablet is definitely worth the praise that it gets for a speedy workflow and entertainment.

Surface offers greater specs than iPad 3 and I have to say that I am highly impressed with its capabilities. Both variants are packed with Quad core CPU power and that takes your tablet experience to a whole new level. It is needless to say that whatever you want to do with Surface it is up for that task.

Heavy software like Photoshop and Autodesk Maya (like other softwares) require TPM chip to work seamlessly. Both variants offer this feature and that’s why you can work with these high-end softwares seamlessly on any one of them.

However, you will hit a road bump here. Another great part of these softwares is the graphics hardware and unfortunately, Nvidia’s ULP GeForce won’t do what you are expecting. It may be able to let you work with those softwares but it won’t be a good experience.

But you don’t have to eat your nails just yet. You can opt for the higher-end version. Intel Core i5 3rd generation offers Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is more than enough to let you work around these softwares and it will definitely surprise you with the performance that it can deliver. I mean, Intel HD 4000 can play Crysis for crying out loud (not on maximum I know, but still). I am sure that you will enjoy it to a great extent on a tablet. It would be like a dream come true, right?

Also, think about the flexibility that you would get with Surface Pro. You won’t have to wait for anything if you want to continue working on your project. Surface Pro is just 903 gm, which is less than all Ultrabooks currently in the market, and it has better specs than any of them. The compact size of Surface Pro will let you hold it in any manner that you desire and you will be able to work on it wherever you please.

When we talk about processor, all we need is the speed that it can deliver and trust me, when you have a quad core by your side, then you don’t need to worry about any application.

We will get the benchmarking details on Surface RT and Pro once they are released, but till then, you can rest assured that Surface is 3 times better than iPad 3 in this category (2 times for the version and 1 for speed in GHz).

As for graphical point of view, Surface Pro takes the crown hands down and RT stands firm with ULP GeForce and delivers the necessary graphical power that you need for playing Full-HD video content, HD Games, running applications like Photoshop and AutoCAD, etc.

I would gladly favor Surface RT and Pro for this category and I don’t want you to feel disappointed but this is also a fact that when iPad 3 was released this year (16th March 2012), it had the best graphics that a tablet could possibly have till now.

Intel HD 4000

iPad 3 Graphics Performance

Weight

Microsoft Surface
Apple iPad 3
RT – 676 gm
662 gm (588 gm Samsung Tab 2 10.1)
Pro – 903 gm
 

I have to say that I was a big fan of iPad 3’s weight till Samsung released Tab 2 10.1 P5100 tablet. Not only it had larger screen, it also weighed only 588 gm and that is marvelous. In front of that, Surface RT looks pretty bulky, but I think that we will have to make our peace with it because it offers some significant hardware than Samsung and iPad, and maybe we will have to wait to see a really slim version of Surface in 2013 or 2014.

I wouldn’t say much in this category because I don’t have anything and this category is pretty much self explanatory. Something weighs less… it’s easier to carry; something weighs more… its bulky! That’s it and we’ll move to our next category.

Memory and Ports

Microsoft Surface
Apple iPad 3
RT – 32 GB and 64 GB
16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB
Pro – 64 GB and 128 GB
 
RAM – No Information
1 GB
RT – Upgradable storage by Micro-SD Card up to 32 GB
No External Card Adapter Available
Pro – Upgradable storage by Micro-SDXC Card up to 32 GB
 
USB 2.0 and USB 3.0
USB 2.0
RT – Micro HD Video
TV Out via HDMI Adapter
Pro – Mini Display Port
 

I am very happy to tell you that you can crank up the storage available in Surface all the way to 32 GB with the help of Micro-SD and Micro-SDXC cards. It is something that I have always missed in iPads. With such great power in these tablets, you really do need larger space. In case of Surface RT, you can go up to 64 GB and 96 GB, respectively for their two variants.

In case of Surface Pro, the news is even better. You can go up to 96 GB and 160 GB, respectively for their two variants. All these choices make Surface more flexible than iPad 3 in more ways than one. I am sure that you already feel the need of larger space in iPad 3 and that is why you have to buy Seagate GoFlex 500 GB WI-FI hard-disk to cover up this fact. iPad 3 can play Full-HD videos but how is it going to play that video if you don’t have an access to it.

More storage means more fun and more work. Your work will create numerous files and since Surface offers all the softwares that you use on your desktop and laptop, you would want to store all of your files on this tablet as well. That is why this option was must and you will be glad to know that you can access USB hard-disk with the help of full USB 2.0 in this tablet and get crazy with USB 3.0.

A side view of Surface to let you see ports
A side view of Surface to let you see ports | Source

Battery

Microsoft Surface
Apple iPad 3
RT - 31.5 W-h
42.45 W-h
Pro - 42 W-h
 

iPad 3 does justice with the battery life. It gives 9 hrs of talk time and up to 30 days of stand-by time. Although, I couldn’t calculate it for a whole month because it was really difficult not being able to use my iPad 3. I just calculated it for 3 days and extrapolated that value for the complete battery and the result was 30 days.

Unfortunately I can’t comment on Surface for now. There is so much going on and it features more things than iPad 3 anyway, so it will be best when I try it out and check the battery life for individual usage like songs, videos, games, applications, etc. However, rest assured that the performance will be similar to current tablets and Ultrabooks and if that happens to be true then we will be very lucky because we will get all those goodies and still get great battery life.

Price (rumored for Surface RT and Pro)

Apple iPad 3
16-GB
$499.00 (Source: Amazon.com)
Rs. 30,195/- (Source: Junglee.com)
 
32-GB
$635.00
Rs. 44,451/-
 
64-GB
$733.98
Rs. 50,391/-
 
 
 
 
Microsoft Surface RT
32-GB
$599
Rs. 33514/-
 
64-GB
$699
Rs. 39109/-
 
 
 
 
Microsoft Surface Pro
64-GB
$1299
Rs.72679/-
 
128-GB
$1599
Rs.89464/-

Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky took a great care in ‘not’ revealing the price tag of Surface. He said that they will priced according their similar tablets and Ultrabooks. So, that is why, I made some guesses with a pen and paper and what you are seeing is just a rumoured price and you may not want to stick to it completely.

But don’t worry about that lot friends. I’ll update this post as soon as I hear the official price of Surface for both US and Indian market.

Conclusion

There is so much more to add here and I still feel that after all that I talked above, this article is incomplete. The fact of the matter is until I get a complete week with Surface I wouldn’t be able to tell you everything and for that you and I will have to wait till October 2012. I would use it in every manner that I possibly can and that would ensure if it is the tablet that I was looking for or not!

I hope that you noticed that I did not use Winner or Loser word here because I don’t see it that way. I used ‘favor’ to tell you which one is better in comparison to another because that is what it is. There is no winner because there can’t be a winner. Right now, you reading all the good things I am telling you about and you might end up disliking Surface for some other reason.

That is why, it would be better if you just read the information from here and apply your own criteria and see if it up to your mark or not. But whatever you do, please do tell me about it via the comments section below.

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