Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Surface 2: The Un-iPad Pad.

Several months ago I acquired a new Microsoft Surface 2.  I own a MacBook Air, iPad 3, and use an Android phone.  I was very interested in the Surface RT when it came out, and made a special trip to the Microsoft kiosk at my local mall to check one out.  I thought it was pretty cool, but didn't see much in the Windows App Store, and wasn't in the market for one.  The Surface 2 with Windows 8.1 has a faster processor, better resolution screen, Microsoft Office, and other improvements over the RT.

The Highs

The Surface 2, like the RT, has some genius innovations that are not available in the competition.  The integrated two angle kickstand, 16:9 ratio screen, keyboard covers, ability to run two apps at the same time, and additional ports are some of the killer applications for the Surface 2.  The kickstand and keyboard make the device an amazing mobile platform.  I have the type keyboard 2, and the backlighting can sense your fingers over the keyboard.  It's a nice touch.

The simple fact is that Apple iPad owners can use iWork apps and Google Docs for productivity.  However, iPad users cannot match the convenience of the Surface keyboard cover.  I have a keyboard case for my iPad and they are bulky and awkward compared to the slick Surface.

Everyone says it, but the Surface 2 really is a productivity device.  The iPad is a web, media, and game device.  I have read stories by tech bloggers who have written all of their articles on the iPad while one the road, and how it has replaced their laptop.  I'm sorry, but to do that, you have to go in and out of apps on the iPad, because you can't have two apps running on the same screen like you can with the Surface.  As much as the Surface is a great productivity device, you start to wish you could have more windows open on the screen; like a laptop.

The Lows

The Surface 2 is not an iPad.  It doesn't have nearly the number of apps available.  It doesn't come close to the amazing music and video creation apps that are available on the iPad.

The worst feature of the Surface 2 is the fact that it does not run Flash on every website.  You see, the Windows RT operating system is not full Windows.  The only browser you can currently use on the Surface 2 is Explorer.  RT version of Explorer runs Flash only on sites that Microsoft has pre-approved.  I don't know why, but you have to remember it really isn't full Windows.  So, in many ways, the iPad is a bit more web compatible in video than the Surface 2.

Summary

Where does the Surface 2 fit in?  It's much smaller than my 13 inch MacBook air.  I use it at work.  I would not be able to use an iPad at work in the same way I use the Surface.  I have two thoughts.  One thought is that both devices can co-exist.  You have an iPad for light stuff at home, and a Surface to replace the laptop at work or on the road.  The second thought is that Apple could do major damage to the Surface if it adopted the killer features.  Apple, Samsung, and other companies have been involved in design patent battles for years.  Some companies just copy each other.  I would think it would be easier for Apple to make the iPad more productivity friendly then for Microsoft to catch up and make the Surface more app/entertainment friendly.  I just happen to like competition, and think each generation of devices improve by trying to increase marketshare.

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