Microsoft Surface RT vs Apple iPad – which is the best tablet for you?
What is the Surface RT?
The Surface RT is the new tablet from Microsoft running the striped down version of the Windows 8 operating system, RT. It aims to compete with Apple’s iPad and the Android tablets on the market, not quite offering the full functionality of a laptop, but giving access to apps in a portable and easy to use tablet.
For a more detailed look at the tablet and the Windows RT operating system read our first look of the Microsoft Surface RT, but to see how it compares with the iPad carry on reading.
Which is nicer in the hand?
The Surface RT is the slightly larger of the two tablets, but they’re both around 9mm thick. The Surface is also a little heavier, weighing around 24 grams more than Apple’s tablet, although this difference is unlikely to be a big decider when choosing between them. Indeed, both are a little on heavy side, making them difficult to use when held single-handed.
Both feel well-made with a reassuring weight and their metal cases give both a premium feel. Both also support snap on covers which can be used as a stand for the iPad or a keyboard for the Surface. There’s very little to choose between them here, so we’ll call it a draw.
Which has the best screen?
The Surface has a 10.6-inch screen compared with the iPad’s 9.7-inches. This means you’ll have more space for apps and browsing the web, but unfortunately it is not as detailed as the iPad’s retina display. The Surface’s screen has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels so it should still be sharp and detailed, but pictures and text won’t look as good as they will on the iPad’s 2048 x 1,536 pixel screen. The higher the resolution compared to the size of the screen, the more ‘pixels per inch’ and in this respect the iPad is the clear winner.
Which has the better operating system?
The operating system you prefer is going to be mainly down to personal choice but both are fairly impressive. Microsoft has introduced its new Windows 8 style user interface which makes the most of the new touchscreen, although being the first version of the software, it isn’t as polished as Apple’s iOS. iOS definitely feels more like a finished product at the moment, although Windows RT is likely to get updated fairly soon.
Which has the best apps?
As an entirely new operating system, Windows RT can’t support any of your older Windows software and is starting from scratch in terms of apps. You do get Microsoft Office pre-installed on the tablet, but the Windows Online Store doesn’t currently have anywhere near as much choice as Apple’s App Store, so if its apps you’re after it’s hard to look beyond the iPad at the moment.
Which is better for doing work?
Coming with Microsoft Office pre-installed, the Surface has the edge when it comes to doing more traditional work. You also have the option of buying one of Microsoft’s keyboard covers to make it easier to type out documents. iPad keyboards are available as well, although these tend to need charging and a wireless connection, whereas the Surface keyboard covers connect to the tablet physically when attached so they don’t need a battery or wireless connector.
Which has the longer lasting battery?
The iPad claims it has 10 hours of battery life when being used to surf the web while the Surface apparently can provide 8 hours of mixed use. Previous iPads have lived up to and sometimes exceeded Apple’s 10-hour claim in our tests, so unless the Surface with Windows RT dramatically outperforms Microsoft’s stated battery life, the iPad is the winner here too.
Which is better value?
Both tablets start at £399 for the cheapest versions, although for this you get 32GB of storage memory with the Surface compared with 16GB for the iPad. However, if you want to get the 32GB Surface with Microsoft’s keyboard Touch cover it will cost £479 – the same price as a 32GB iPad. Apple’s iPad Smart Covers start at £35, so if you’re after a 32GB tablet with a cover the Surface will come in the cheaper, albeit not by much.
Which is the best tablet?
Overall, both tablets are great devices and offer a range of features. The Surface is a brilliant first tablet from Microsoft with some nice touches, but a lack of apps and some rough edges around the operating system means that it’s not quite as polished as Apple’s iPad. The Surface might still be a better choice for you – particularly if you want to work on Office documents such as Word or Excel – but the iPad is the more complete tablet.
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