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Is Microsoft's Surface tablet an iPad killer?

Last updated on: October 18, 2012 18:06 IST

Is Microsoft's Surface tablet an iPad killer?

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Swapnil Mathur

Now that pricing and models for Microsoft Surface (for Windows RT) is finally out, we can open the Pandora's Box and telll you how it will do when pitted against the current reigning champion in the tablet-world, the iPad.

We've ogled the Microsoft Surface for Windows RT for a while and the Redmond giant has done a pretty good job keeping most of the specs under wraps, but no more! So here we take a look at the reigning champion and the new contender and how they stack up to each other.




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What the iPad has got going for itself

The iPad has been a revolutionary product from Apple that has found itself a spot in many homes and lives. It has come through three generations of iterations, with the newest one offering some pretty impressive features.

The Retina Display

If you're not impressed by the new Retina Display Apple has packed into the new iPad, then you're probably not human. We're not talking about utility here (there really isn't any if you ask us), but that display is just so crisp and anyone who loves very high quality images will absolutely enjoy the display.

Great for photographers, but not really necessary for an average user. In comparison, Microsoft Surface RT has a resolution of just 1366x768 pixels, which is nowhere close to the iPad's 2048x1536 pixels.

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Image: iPad's Retina Display


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3G, 4G, LTE and other alphanumeric connectivity options

The iPad has always focused on connectivity, and each iteration has offered the best connectivity options it could at the time. The new iPad is packing in 3G and LTE chips, although LTE capabilities won't be available everywhere in the world.

In contrast, Surface only offers Wi-Fi connectivity, so if you're someone who's always on the go, 3G connectivity is not an option.

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Image: iPad's connectivity options

Tags: LTE , Microsoft

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Is Microsoft's Surface tablet an iPad killer?

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More apps than your iPad has room for

Currently, the App Store has close to 650,000 apps, with half a million having been designed specifically for the iPad. That's more apps that the 64GB version of the iPad can hold. The App ecosystem for the iOS is currently the largest, with most developers focusing primarily on this established platform.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Windows Phone ecosystem has been the lack of apps. Many presume that this disinterest amongst developers for developing apps for Windows RT would continue, crippling the new OS.

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Image: iPad's apps ecosystem


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Is Microsoft's Surface tablet an iPad killer?

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Why Microsoft Surface will offer a tough fight to the iPad

The iPad is a great device. It has gone through an evolution and not only kept up with the times, but also delivered a user experience that is signature of Apple's simplicity and elegance. However, we now have the Surface, which could give the iPad a run for its money.

Here's what we like about the Surface.

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Image: What Surface offers


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It's a space-game

Surface RT comes in 32GB and 64GB flavours, with the cheapest version being roughly the same price as the Wi-Fi only 16GB model of the new iPad. If that wasn't enough,

Microsoft is also letting you slip in an additional 64GB MicroSD card, just in case you're a space junky.

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Image: Surface RT offers more space at a competitive pricing

Tags: Microsoft

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The built-in goodness

While you will need to buy a case to prop the iPad upright, Microsoft has just built in a kickstand into the Surface. Speaking of built in, there's even a HD display port for connecting projectors and TVs along with a fully functional USB port. Good luck finding those on the iPad.

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Image: Surface offers a built-in kickstand

Tags: USB , Microsoft

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MS Office is a big plus

The Surface RT tablet, according to Microsoft, will ship with a baked in copy of Office RT. It won't be the final version, probably the Home or Student version of the popular productivity suite, but unlike greedy developers, Microsoft wants you to have the final version of Office RT for free when it is ready, sometime in the first few months of 2013.

The way we see it, we're getting an entire Office Suite for free (well, one could argue the cost is included in the price of the tablet), but the fact that MS will allow you to upgrade for free is just mind-blowing. The last time anything "free" came out of the Cupertino office, that was of real use, was a Bumper Case for the iPhone 4 when their Antenna blunder was discovered.

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Image: For Surface MS Office is a big plus


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Surface is hardcore

Microsoft Surface RT is constructed out of Magnesium and topped off with Corning Gorilla Glass. The damn thing is so tough that Steven Sinofsky, Windows chief, decided to put wheels on his Surface RT and take it out for a spin, Skateboard style. He even tweeted the images of said actions. When was the last time you didn't treat your iPad like a newborn child?

Windows Surface RT has created major buzz at every stage of its public appearance, be it at the official launch, be it at the brief hands-on Microsoft offered to several tech sites or be it with the pre-orders. Windows 8, the OS which will be running on the tablet, albeit an ARM version, has already received a lot of positive

attention from the media and techies alike, which instills many with the faith that Surface RT won't be a flop. The design of the tablet itself is just beautiful, it weighs in under a kilo and comes with a cover that doubles up as a keyboard.

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Image: How the Surface created a buzz for itself


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Many have said that a product from a company with a track record of problematic operating systems cannot compete with a company with a standing record of producing 'exceptional products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad." To such naysayers, we would like to point out that the Xbox 360 was also a purely home-grown product at Microsoft. While the console too was greeted with unprecedented skepticism, it has managed to give Sony a run for its monopoly in the console market. So saying that Microsoft has a history of only mediocre products would be a wrong statement.

For us here in India, Surface RT could be something of a riot. If the basic version ($499 for 32GB without Touch Cover) is priced under Rs 30,000, then it would definitely pose a very strong risk to the iPad monopoly. The 64 GB of the Surface RT tablet is $699, roughly Rs 38,500 which is much lesser than the Rs 42,500 of the

64GB iPad (wi-fi only) price tag. As long as Microsoft keeps the pricing somewhat lower than the competing iPad model, the Surface RT might become a major hit with the users here.

The new direction Microsoft has ventured in is one that instills us with a lot of optimism. We have been using Windows 8 Release Preview for months now and cannot wait to upgrade to the final version. We absolutely love our Xbox 360 and eagerly look forward to the day we get to play with our own Surface RT tablet.

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Image: Microsoft Surface's pricing will be a key differentiator

Tags: Microsoft , Xbox , Sony , India

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