In the two weeks since its launch, I’ve read countless reviews of Microsoft’s own tablet device. Ranging from praise to all things Microsoft, to a merciless attack of haters. It’s no surprise that the primary benchmark is the Apple iPad, but the more I use the device the more I realize why this is an inaccurate comparison. And to put it bluntly, it’s not fair. Not fair to the iPad. It hasn’t got a chance.
I better analogy; You know that colourful toy cell phone you bought your kids when they could barely walk? The goal was so that they would not try to take your actual working cell phone and make random 911 calls. However they seem to always track it down. The iPad has lots of lights, and makes all sorts of cools sounds, but when it is time to get serious I reach for my Surface. And within two days of receiving it, aside from one dang magazine subscription..cough..Wired.., I am completely off my iPad. And like the cell phone, I gave the kids my iPad and they keep reaching out to use the Surface. To be honest, it’s only because it is new, and frankly they are quite content using the iPad.
But to my point, IMO these devices are not meant to compete. They have very different purposes. The iPad is a tablet. A good one at that with tons of apps for play and media. The Surface is the ultimate mobile computer, for productivity. Small and easy to take with you like a tablet, but magically transforms into a laptop with keyboard and trackpad. If you don’t like the trackpad then plug in your Nano USB wireless mouse ( or any USB mouse for that matter). Need to print? No problem, plug that printer into the USB port or to any network printer you have access too. The Surface is a PC. A very cool, portable, and touch friendly PC. And although you can only run applications built for the RT platform, IMO this is a good thing. Regular x86 applications are not touch optimized, and the risk of malware and the typical PC slowdown that comes with overloading your machine with 5 bittorrent clients and their respective “toolbars” is mitigated. Of course apps are one of its shortcomings for sure. However I see this as a temporary issue. And to those that are screaming about the lack of Apps, to them I ask, what is it you’re looking for? Maybe it’s just me, but most of the main apps are there; Netflix, Skype, Kindle, eBay, to name a few. And if there isn’t an app, IE 10 works perfectly well to bring up everything else.
So is it a PC replacement? No. In the office I need multiple monitors and access various Windows x86 applications. But the next conference I attend, I assure you I will not be stuffing my laptop AND my iPad into my bag. I’ll only be packing my Surface.