At CIO.com, few of us are fans of Microsoft’s Surface RT or Pro tablets.However, Microsoft is cutting prices on both models, and if you are leaning towards buying one, now is the time.
The latest discount reduces the price of Microsoft's 64GB and 128GB Surface Pro tablets to $799 and $899, respectively, through August 29. Three weeks ago Microsoft cut the price of its Surface RT tablets by as much as 30 percent. The software giant's entry-level 32GB model, without the touch keyboard, was reduced from $499 to $349, and the 64GB model's price was cut by 25 percent, or $150, to $499.
The Surface RT is a risky buy, though. My colleague Jim Martin bought one but strongly regrets the decision. The Surface Pro also has its faults, but because it runs Windows 8, as opposed to Windows RT, there are far more apps available. And it runs Microsoft Office, something that Android and iOS tablets cannot do. However, in my experience, using Microsoft Office on a touch screen is very awkward. It’s designed to work with a mouse and a real keyboard, and the changes Microsoft made for the touch version of Office are superficial.
Rather than beat on Microsoft’s product, let me make a suggestion. If you want a lightweight device that runs familiar applications,opt for an Ultrabook. You could, for example, buy Lenovo’s IdeaPad U310 for as little as $549. It's a capable machine that weighs less than four pounds, has 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive. The U310 has a touch machine and comes with Windows 8.
Maybe you don’t need to run Office or advanced video-editing software but want a very capable tablet. For $799 you can buy Apple's latest iPad with a 128GB of storage and an excellent "Retina" display. As you probably know, there are hundreds of thousands of apps for the iPad, including about 300,000 that were written specifically for the device.
If you plan to use your tablet mostly to watch videos, read books and so on, the Kindle Fire HD, a 7-inch device, is currently on sale at Amazon. The 16GB version costs $159, while the 32GB version sells for $189. Those are sale prices, by the way, so you should act quickly if you're interested.
Finally, there’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab family of devices. The top-of-the-line Tab is the Galaxy Tab 3, which has a 10.1-inch screen. It’s currently selling at Best Buy for $379 with 16GB of memory.
None of the tablets I mentioned will truly replace an Ultrabook or MacBook Air. But they're fully functional, and for my money, I'd pick every one of them over the Surface Pro.