iPad Air 2 Vs. Surface Pro 3: No Comparison - InformationWeek

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10:51 AM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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iPad Air 2 Vs. Surface Pro 3: No Comparison

Comparisons between Apple's iPad Air 2 and Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 are both inevitable and misguided.

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Comparisons between Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 and Apple's new iPad Air 2 are inevitable. After all, Microsoft launched its tablets in response to iPads' meteoric rise, a relationship that makes competition with Apple an ingrained part of the Surface story.

Microsoft has continued to encourage the comparison. On Thursday -- not coincidentally, the same day Apple announced its latest iPads -- Microsoft released another video touting the Pro 3 as the "tablet that can replace your laptop," for example.

But comparisons between the Surface Pro 2 and the iPad Air 2 are misguided, somewhat like comparing a smart car to a station wagon. If you're trying to decide which tablet will better serve your needs, make sure you're considering the right factors before you hand over your credit card. The devices overlap in certain ways but generally excel at different things.

[Apple's iPad updates are impressive, but where's the iPad Pro? Read Apple iPad Event: Few Surprises.]

I'm not talking simply about the "productivity device vs. consumption device" argument that many, including Microsoft, use to distinguish iPads from Windows tablets such as the Surface Pro. For a traditional knowledge worker, the Surface Pro 3 certainly offers a more familiar type of productivity, with desktop apps and a keyboard. But for users who are less beholden to tried-and-true workflows, iPads offer plenty of power to get things done in new ways.

During the iPad Air 2 reveal, Apple brought reps from French company Stupeflix to the stage, where they demonstrated a video editing app called Replay that allows users to easily create slick videos with sophisticated graphics. The app supports real-time effects that would have taxed desktop PCs only a few years ago, but despite its power, it sticks to a simple, intuitive interface that lets any novice pick up an iPad and start producing attractive content. Replay might not replace Adobe Creative Cloud apps for design professionals, but it could replace portions of their workflow. Implications for creative professionals aside, the app opens up entirely new possibilities for any type of worker who needs to create beautiful presentations on the fly.

Surface Pro 3 supports more apps like Stupeflix than it used to. Adobe recently revealed touch-first versions of its apps that were rebuilt from the ground up with devices such as the Pro 3 in mind. But the iPad app catalogue features far more tablet-optimized titles -- well over 600,000. Microsoft is still trying to amass developer support for its touch platform, but Apple already has such support in droves. Rather than simply trying to solidify a platform, as Microsoft is still attempting to do with Windows 10, Apple has begun to focus more on behind-the-scenes improvements.

iPad Air 2 looks at first glance a lot like its predecessor. Beneath the hood, however, it includes a new processor and a variety of sensors engineered to take advantage of advances in iOS app development, such as Metal, which lets developers maximize the Air 2's powerful GPU; and Swift, the company's new programming language. It also benefits from the bevy of APIs Apple recently opened, including one for the Touch ID sensors that the newest iPads now feature.

These sorts of advances aren't as flashy as a hardware redesign, but with them, Apple has solidified

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
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Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
10/17/2014 | 3:41:19 PM
Good analogy
Nice anology by the writer: "comparisons between the Surface Pro 2 and the iPad Air 2 are misguided, somewhat like comparing a smart car to a station wagon."
Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
10/17/2014 | 3:19:17 PM
Re: Stupid
"Is there anything you can do on an ipad that you cannot do on a surface?"

Well, there are at least 450,000 or so apps that you can run on an iPad that you can't run on a Surface. Among the apps that overlap between the two devices, some aren't as fully featured on Surface and some cost money while the iOS versions are free. You have LTE options with iPads that you don't have with any Surface but the Surface 2. iPads can sync with Macs in useful ways that Surfaces can't--e.g. Continuity. iPads are the only tablets that run iOS 8, which is a subjective distinction, but you're simply trolling if you think that just because you prefer the Modern UI, everyone must prefer the Modern UI.

In any case, I could keep going, but I think I've made my point: There's plenty that you can do on an iPad that you can't do on a Surface. You might not care about the distinctions-- but that's about your needs. Again, it's trolling to define devices purely in terms of what you think is important. All I said is that the Surface Pro 3 has uses that are mostly centered around its laptop mode and the pen, while iPads have a different set of uses. They're both excellent devices for certain needs. It just makes increasingly less sense for us to keep comparing them.

User Rank: Apprentice
10/17/2014 | 3:05:47 PM
Re: Stupid
Anything you can do on an iPad but not on a Surface?  Yes - hold it effortlessly in one hand and run any of the hundreds of thousands of polished, iPad-specific apps.  You can also pick up immediately where you left off on any of your other Apple devices.  If you're not a Windows-8 fan (as many aren't), then you won't want a Surface.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/17/2014 | 2:06:33 PM
The ipad has nothing on the surface.  Desipte the authors pathetic 1000+ word attempt to justify the ipad's purpose in the world, it really just takes the answer to one simple question.  Is there anything you can do on an ipad that you cannot do on a surface?  NO  Is there anything you can do on a surface that you cannot do on an ipad?  Plenty.


You're right...no comparison.

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