In my post, Surface/iPad – Then (Part 1) I gave a brief history on Microsoft’s efforts with phones, Windows and Surface product line up back in the days. Also, mentioned how iPad almost dominated the tablet market. If you haven’t checked that post out already, I suggest read Part 1 first, and then continue reading this post.
Microsoft’s vision has been clear. They want Windows to play a central part in peoples lives. And with Windows 10, they have laid the foundation and working towards it with every new version of Windows they release. For example, with Windows 10 Creators Update, they have baked in Windows Holographic or Mixed Reality framework into the OS. You can read more about it here. What this means, developers can take advantage of the Mixed Reality foundation and start building new experiences (apps) through the HMDs (Head Mounted Displays)
It is interesting new opportunity for developers, but an opportunity that is yet to be realized. Mixed Reality (MR) is still far from mass adoption, and I don’t think until end of 2018 we shall see a lot of content made specifically for this MR environment. Nevertheless, Microsoft wants to be ready when the wave of MR/HMDs is set and ready for general public. There are still couple of great HMDs already available in the market, such as HTC’s Vive or Oculus Rift. These are some powerful devices with great potential. But Rift, as much as it is good it can only work with a high end laptop.
Well, I am not going to dwell so much on MR. The point is, Microsoft is bringing in all possibilities, be it a productivity space which it has been for years and years, a mobile, MR, Gaming, Internet Of Things or a collaborative device like Surface Hub. All these different computing needs are packed into one Windows, the Windows 10.
And one of the best device to show full potential, optimized Windows 10, is the Surface Pro product line. The Surface family was never a threat nor a competition to Microsoft’s partners, such as HP, Dell, Lenovo and others. In fact, it was an inspirational device for these partners. Microsoft wanted the partners to make Surface clones, they wanted to flood the market with great, premium looking devices, a fantastic choice for the consumers.
Surface devices are premium devices, with an entry level Surface starts from $899. But it is a device made for productive first, play/entertainment second, unlike Apple’s iPad. The iPad as also mentioned in my Part 1 post that it is first a consumption device.
I will share my personal experience with an iPad. I had bought my first and last iPad in 2012, if I am not wrong it was iPad 3 (or marketed as The New iPad). In the start, I played around with the device quite a bit, loaded with tones of apps. I used it mainly for entertainment, for watching movies and Photos. Listening music was once in a while as I prefer listening music on my phones. Other than watching movies and playing games, reading news and tech articles was amazing, and reading and writing emails was also good. But that’s about it. I am a coder, I use Visual Studio, with SQL Server, Access with other applications. And none of these worked with an iPad, of course, it’s a tablet.
I always switched between my laptop (for productivity) and iPad when I am relaxed laying on my bed, sofa etc. After using iPad for 4-5 weeks, I significantly reduced using the device. And came a point when I hadn’t used iPad for nearly 5-6 months straight. It is when I realized that, iPad is not my type of device. The typing experience on a laptop is far greater than on the iPad (even with optional keyboard attached). There was no real work that I could do on the device other than replying to emails, which my iPhone could also do. So why reach for an iPad even for that.
I wanted an ultra portable device that could balance my work life plus my entertainment/consumption life which I call, Work + Play balanced life. When I first bought the first gen Surface Pro with Windows 8 I knew this was the device that could fit my needs. Although the mid range model that I had picked (i5, 4GB Ram, 128 storage) was not breeze to use with heavy apps like the ones mentioned above. But I used it a lot more than I ever used an iPad.
Today, I am writing this and all other articles for this blog, while running SQL Server 2016 along with Visual Studio 2017, Edge and Chrome both minimized on my stunning, powerful 2-in1 Surface Pro 4 (which is i5, 8GB Ram & 256 storage). This is exactly the space I want to be at, a device handling both my laptop and tablet needs. The device is not perfect, but the vision is clear, Pro 4 is nearly identical looking device to Pro 3 but improvised in all meaningful ways. Surface Pro 5 should be even better handling these two worlds of Work + Play.
Microsoft does not want you to buy a laptop and a tablet separately. Surface Pro can handle both. This is where Microsoft and Apple have taken different approaches. Microsoft with Windows 10 is trying to do everything with these unique experiences like Surface or with other Surface family products. Apple, wants to make one device to cater for one specific need. An iMac for desktop, MacBook pro for laptops, iPads for tablets, Apple Watch for wearables. It has worked for them, they have made big moolah with this method. Good for them.
2016 has been a good year for Microsoft with their Surface devices. It has brought them profits, the devices are selling well, people have realized an ultra portable device or 2-in-1s are a great offerings by Microsoft and other vendors. Sure, the sales still can’t match that for an iPad, but iPad sales have also stagnated and are at a year over year decline. And looking at the fantastic positive response to Surface Pros, Apple in 2016 also released another Pro device to counter attack the Surface, the iPad Pro.
Apple wants iPad to be perceived as a productivity machine with iPad Pro. They released two screen sizes with giant screen 12.9 and 9.7. What is the difference between the regular iPad and the Pro? The only big difference in the Pro is the stylus support, or as Apple likes to call it, the Pencil. It is funny how Apple has been shying away from such input methods like the touch screens on the laptops or pen support.
But having no much choice, they had to support the pencil and a keyboard. Why I don’t consider a keyboard as a major play here because, even in non-pro versions there has always been 3rd party support for keyboards. This is just an official keyboard support from Apple for the iPad Pro, no big deal here. Apple pencil is good, specially for graphic artists, painters, architects. But the iPad Pro still carries the same problem I had with the iPad in 2012. I still can’t use heavy apps that I regularly use on my laptop or my Surface Pro 4. You still can’t use Photoshop (not the light version), video editing is not as simple as they demo it on stage during keynotes. Both these Photoshop and video editing require precision, which at the moment can and mostly handled by a mouse. Surface Pen or Apple Pencil can also do little justice to precision but it slows down the workflow. For a professional, things need to happen fast, without compromising on the performance.
The best thing about the Surface in my opinion, is the choice you can make depending on what you are doing. For example, if I am on my desk writing this blog or coding, I can throw in full size Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse, dock it to Surface dock and you can hook up one or more monitors and there you go. A full fledge powerful desktop like PC. You can also deattach the Surface keyboard and use it as a tablet, with 10 point multitouch screen, or write handwritten notes with Surface pen.
This is the power of Surface that some of the tech enthusiasts love. Granted, this is not everybody’s need, which is the majority in my opinion. But it is also evident with the decline of the tablet market and increase in 2-in-1s that users are realizing instead of having two devices, have one which is good at handling basic productivity tasks as well as a bit of Facebook, browsing web, watching Netflix etc.
The advantage with Microsoft or Windows ecosystem, the partners like HP, Lenovo and Dell are selling stunning looking 2-in-1 devices as well with incredible price ranges. It is not a must to go for a Surface device, but there are many Surface looking devices which are equal if not better than the Surface.
Microsoft today stands very firmly and proudly with their Surface brands. Surface brands screams premium quality, as well as price. And the reception to the Surface from tech journalists, media, and general public as been pretty solid and positive. This is proved by their next attempt at creating a new category, the Surface Book and recently released All-In-One computer, the Surface Studio. The Surface Studio is so beautiful, so premium, stunning looking device that it can’t be rivaled by none in AIO computer today. Look at the launch video below and see it for yourself.
Concluding this post, your needs could be different than mine. iPad and iPad Pro maybe perfectly fitting your needs, and that is fantastic. I believe, choose something that best fits your needs, and don’t go by my word or someone else or what Microsoft or Apple markets. There is a reason there are different companies offering different computers and tablets, it’s all about range of choices to consumers and businesses to choose from.
The reason for this Surface/iPad blog was not to tell Surface is better than iPad or iPad is better. I have given the purposes of both devices, what their company’s intentions are with their respective products. And how best these devices can fit your needs.
It is evident the Surface Pro works for me, but that could be due to my nature of work, need.
That’s all folks for now. Please let me know what you think about this two part posts, please leave a comment below, share it if you like it.
Till then, enjoy rest of your week.
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