Microsoft Surface RT vs. Apple iPad
The Microsoft Surface running Windows RT is just about everything you'd want in a tablet, but how does it stack up against the market leader, the Apple iPad?
Mon, March 04, 2013
Slideshow: First Look: Windows 8 Surface RT
In our hands-on testing, the Surface RT stacks up well against the iPad -- once you realize that they're in two different stacks.
On paper, the Microsoft Surface RT looks like a competitor to the Apple iPad with Retina Display. They both start at $499. The screen of the Surface is slightly larger, with a 10.6 inch diagonal measurement vs. 9.7 inches for the iPad. They weigh nearly the same. Both have an operating system that's baked in and a host of apps that you can only get from the company store.
[TECH ARGUMENT: iPad vs Surface RT in the enterprise
But there are key differences.
-- While the iPad is primarily a content consumption device, the Surface, which comes with Microsoft Office, is also designed for content creation.
-- Where the iPad isolates users from the world of networks, servers and enterprise printers, the Surface works with them seamlessly.
-- Where the iPad requires you to work with its iOS grid-of-icons interface, the Surface gives you a choice of tiles, icons or (hold on to your hat) an actual command line.
So, who wins? The answer is, it depends. The iPad has nearly a quarter million apps available that allow it to do nearly everything. The Surface can't come close in that regard. But the Surface has capabilities that the iPad can't match, and its app store is growing.
If I had to choose, and I could afford it, I'd probably buy one of each.
Under the Surface
The Microsoft Surface RT emerges from its black and white slip case enclosed in a thin plastic envelope that's almost like giftwrap. There's not much to setting it up - first you have to charge it by attaching a magnetic bar to the side of the device and plugging in the charger.
Once you've done that, you tell the Surface your Microsoft account credentials (or create them) and tell the device what Wi-Fi source you want to use. The Surface works with 802.11n Wi-Fi on either 2.4 or 5 GHz.
The Surface then proceeds to set itself up, to install updates and apps. Once it's done, it will ask you to sign in, which you do once, then you flick the opening screen out of the way.