Surface 2 vs iPad Air: A brief comparison

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This year, Microsoft focused its marketing campaign on Surface 2, the new Windows RT tablet, a challenge to tempt Apple devotees. The new Surface 2 has a new sleek look, hardware and most importantly, the price that can appeal to large strata of consumers. Nonetheless, Apple answers the challenge launching Apple iPad Air. iPad Air is the lightest, slimmest and most powerful among its iPad predecessors. What were the both teams thinking when they launched their respective products on the same day, we do not know. Maybe it’s no longer a competition, it’s a war.

On one hand, Surface 2 appeals to the workaholic type looking for more than just apps and play in a tablet. On the other hand, Apple iPad Air seems to be the ‘greatest tablet ever,’ or so the developers claim. It sure is sexy, slim and powerful. But, how do the two compare? Let us see some slate specs.

Specs – Most of the changes took place under the hood. Surface 2 boasts of Nvidia’s Tegra 4 (T40) processor, a 1.7GHz ARM mobile quad-core CPU with 72 graphics cores. Consider a 2GB of RAM, and you get a pretty substantial hardware boost. Apple iPad Air sports a new A7 processor with 64-bit system which offers faster performance and better graphics.

Note that both Surface 2 and Air have crafted their hardware for smooth interaction with software, and we have yet to see how those improvements turn out to be productive, or add up to user experience. However, we can compare some direct characteristics.

Storage capacity for Surface 2 comes configured with 32GB and 64GB of in-built memory. Surface 2 offers two additional storage extensions: a USB port with plug-and-play compatibility with memory sticks and external HD; and a MicroSD card reader. The latter offers memory extension up to 64GB. Apple Ipad Air, on the other hand, comes in a greater in-built variety with 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. Despite the ongoing consumer complaints about expandable memory, Apple stubbornly refuses to add a card slot to the iPad.

Weight for both tablets takes on the trajectory of ever decreasing, with iPad Air weighing 1 pound, and its MS counterpart Surface 2 only 1.42 pounds. Air is significantly slimmer than Surface 2, though. The first is 0.29-inch thick, and the latter 0.35-inch thick, so Surface has a chunkier look to it. Nonetheless, both slates are lightweight, with Air slightly lighter.

Screen size and resolution do not come equal for Apple iPad Air and Microsoft Surface 2. Surface 2 offers a 10.1-inch generous display. Apple iPad Air offers 9.7-inch display, but a better resolution with Retina display.

Cameras in both Air and Surface 2 are both front and back. Surface 2 features a 3.5-megapixel front-facing webcam and a 5-megapixel back camera, while Apple iPad Air boasts of a 5-megapixel front camera and a 1.2-megapixel front camera that does not take photos, but only records videos. In case your consideration is the image quality, consider opting for Surface 2.

Accessories – Even though Microsoft offers some handsome covers to go with Surface 2, Apple iPad Air boasts of a larger array of accessories, from keyboards and cases to musical instruments. Surface 2, on the other hand, offers something iPad doesn’t have – a built-in kickstand. It allows you to have a full-fledged laptop experience with a tablet, with a lot of adjustability options. Even though iPad SmartCover folds up to lift the tablet to one side, Surface 2 with magnesium built-in kickstand offers more comfort working and playing, especially typing.

Applications – Microsoft offers the Windows Store with hundreds of thousands of applications, but the truth is – Surface 2 does not support desktop applications. It does come with full MS Office 2013 RT-compatible installed, though. The pack includes OneNote, Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Apple’s Air does not support desktop applications, either, but it offers a wider selection of apps in the store and a lot more productivity apps than Surface 2.

Price – Microsoft Store offers Surface 2 for $449, and Apple iPad Air has a $544.44 price tag on Amazon. In terms of price, Microsoft made a wise move cutting down the $150 to lure the customers willing to try something other than Apple.

The bottom line is if something will urge an Apple devotee turn Surface 2-wise is the world economic crisis because the two are rather equal rivals. Overall, Surface 2 stands up quite prominent due to its extendable storage capabilities, the cameras, better connectivity, the laptop-like experience and the price tag. Nevertheless, if you long to have a fancy touch cover, be prepared to invest $100 more in the purchase. In terms of productivity and apps, both Surface 2 and iPad Air offer a large variety of apps; none of them support desktop applications but offer MS Office pack pre-installed, so both slates tend to appeal to the strata of users who like to go productive with their tablets. Surface 2, however, beats the Air with the fancy keyboard cover. Apple iPad Air offers a better battery life and is more e-book reading-friendly. Whichever suits you better is up to you.