From the day that that the iPad was announced I have been excited about the potential for tablet computing. Over time I have become even more convinced of the benefits of mobile tech for our work. The importance of the combination of instant on, low powered ARM processors, solid state storage, and touch based interaction cannot be over emphasized.
What I have been looking for is a tablet that replaces a traditional computer, not one that compliments it. Slowly my excitement about the iPad has waned for this very fact. Apple’s design philosophy of a tablet being a third device severely limits its potential and although its ecosystem is very useful in the United States, it becomes a ball and chain in Africa.
The Surface RT on the other hand gives me the advantages of mobile technology, and yet can be used as a full computer. Because of the ARM processor, it does not run traditional software that we are used to now, but as the number of apps on the Windows store increases, that will be become less of an issue. That ARM processor also means it does not run our current viruses either, and the requirement for apps to come through the Windows store will cut down on future viruses much like the Apple store does for the iPad.
As a device standing alone, I am very happy with the Surface RT, but what really gets me excited is the ecosystem that Microsoft is developing around multiple kinds of devices. My Windows 7 laptop and my iPad were completely different experiences, but going from my Windows 8 laptop to Windows RT on the Surface is much easier. If I learn how to do something on one of them, I can do it on the other in the same way. The idea that this could be transferred to a phone and possibly even an Xbox is pretty enticing. The line between different types of devices will start to blur.
It is obvious that the Surface RT is a first generation device. That is not to say that it is not finished, but rather that there are a number of improvements that can still be made that probably got dropped to get it out the door. There are many rumors that Microsoft is going to be changing to a much more aggressive update schedule with Windows Blue already this summer. I would not be surprised if these updates fix many of my quibbles with the OS.
Between the Surface RT and the iPad, I see much more potential for the Surface. In the image to the right, the iPad is plugged into the Surface as an external device would be plugged into a computer, and that is how I see the relationship. The best evidence I can give about my opinion is that I only use my iPad for two things now, playing Bad Piggies with my kids and catching up with tech news on Flipboard. And that is only until those apps are released for the Surface.
What should you buy? If you already have a computer for everything that you do that is important and are looking for a tablet to use for reading and playing, then an iPad may be the best way to go today since its ecosystem is already mature. If you are looking for a tablet to replace your computer, I would go with the Surface RT.
- If you like the idea of the Surface RT, but don’t want to give up your old apps, you may be more interested in the Surface Pro: http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/9/3857076/microsoft-surface-pro-in-depth-impressions
- Wondering what the difference is between Windows 8 and Windows RT: http://www.infragistics.com/community/blogs/nick-landry/archive/2012/10/26/you-want-to-buy-a-surface-but-what-is-windows-rt.aspx
- A more in depth view of going from an iPad to a Surface RT: http://www.infragistics.com/community/blogs/nick-landry/archive/2012/10/29/from-ipad-to-surface-day-1-acquisition-amp-setup.aspx
Microsoft Surface RT Review
- Part I: Philosophy – https://pafederwitz.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/microsoft-surface-rt-review-part-i-philosophy/
- Part II: Hardware – https://pafederwitz.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/microsoft-surface-rt-review-part-ii-hardware/
- Part III: Software – https://pafederwitz.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/microsoft-surface-rt-review-part-iii-software/
- Part IV: Ecosystem – https://pafederwitz.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/microsoft-surface-rt-review-part-iv-ecosystem/
- Part V: Conclusion – https://pafederwitz.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/microsoft-surface-rt-review-part-v-conclusion/