Home / Uncategorized / What Should You Buy? Microsoft Surface RT vs. Apple iPad 4

What Should You Buy? Microsoft Surface RT vs. Apple iPad 4

So, today represents a pretty big day for Microsoft, as it marks not only the official launch of Windows 8, but it’s also the launch day for their Surface RT tablet. I still think that the starting price on the Microsoft Surface should have been closer to $299, but in the $499 range, it competes directly against the recently announced fourth-generation iPad rather than the also recently announced iPad Mini. So, how does it compare?

As far as outward dimensions, they’re comparable but different. They’re both 9.4mm thick, but the Surface RT takes on a 16:9 aspect ratio, making it narrower and longer compared to the more shorter and wider iPad 4. The weight is also comparable at 680g (Surface) vs. 653g (iPad). While the 9.7-inch iPad has a much more impressive resolution of 2048×1536 (264ppi) compared to the 1366×768 resolution (148ppi) on the 10.6-inch Surface, the ClearType tech is supposed to make the Surface look sharper than it really is.

Raw power should also be comparable with the iPad 4 getting the dual core Apple A6X processor (presumably running at 1.3GHz) along with quad-core GPU. The Surface RT gets a quad core NVIDIA Tegra 3 (1.4GHz) chip, which is similar to what you find on many current high-end smartphones and tablets. The Surface RT does have double the RAM at 2GB, though, compared to what we think is the same single gig on the iPad 4 as was there in the iPad 3.

Apple is notorious for not providing a memory card slot and that hasn’t changed in the fourth-gen iPad. You get the 16GB, 32GB or 64GB that’s already on board, compared to the microSD slot on the Surface RT to complement its 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. The iPad is available with 3G/LTE though, whereas the Surface is currently a WiFi-only device. The iPad also sounds like it wins in the camera department too with a 5MP rear (1080p) and 1.2MP front (720p) shooter, whereas both Surface cameras are 720p. They haven’t specified the actual megapixel count.

Of course, there are all those other things that you need to consider. The iPad has access to a tremendously huge App Store, whereas the Windows Marketplace for RT is not nearly as developed, especially since RT can’t run native Windows programs. That said, the Surface has the cool Touch Cover and Type Cover, and you do get a version of Microsoft Office right out of the box.

At the end of the day, which tablet you choose really depends on your needs and preferences. And let’s not forget about the plethora of Android options too, like the less expensive Nexus 7 or possibly the upcoming Nexus 10, as well as trusty standbys like the Galaxy Tab and Asus Transformer Pad families. Whatever the case, it looks like this could be a great holiday shopping season for tablet lovers.




About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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  1. The iPad3(retina), Wifi Only, starts as $500. I do think the low-end surface should have been priced at $299 to complete with both android and ipad. In that range it would be a real option vs android and wouldn’t even be a question in the ipad. Remember too, the iPhone was released, people were skeptical and the biggest thing? No. Apps. We still gobbled it up. And 5 years later….

    The apps on Android and surface I suspect will be similar with the edge going to Surface slowly because there’s a consistent hardware platform they have to run on. Android is like all over the place, even the OS is a scattered mess. Android apps are plenty, but they are for the most part primitive by comparision to what’s on the iPad/iPhone. They remind me of stuff that “Joe Linux” user would write to help >>him<< with a task, no common interface, many in DOS seeming interfaces. Awful.

    Apps on the iPad/iPhone? As the years go by I am slowly getting disenchanted with them a bit. Both games and applications. Apple's own iPhoto is a piece of garbage. I really want a file system on my iPad. Store things in different places. (Like Android).

    I want to run apps though, like what I do day to day on my real computer. A web browser and word and a few camera apps, facebook, a few primitive games that can't even rival 1990 era PC games is getting… old I guess. I want my tablet to do more.

    So far none of them really do this.

    The Surface Pro may, but for that price why not get a killer laptop with a 1terabyte drive, 16 gigs of RAM, 2gig graphic card and the latest i7 mobile chipset?

    There's GOT to be some middle ground here. $500 Surface cannot complete with iPad. Nor can it compete with $300 Android.

  2. Surface has a full USB port. Just plug an LTE stick, printer, mouse, anything out of thousands of devices and it will work.

  3. Fewer apps, but they are inherently more useful with integration into the search and share charms. For example, I would never bother installing Wikipedia or howstuffworks apps on my iPad, but adding them to a rt device instantly adds those capabilities to the built in search function.

  4. wrong ipad 4, and the 3rd gen one, both have 4G/LTE.

  5. The SD slot allows for quick and easy transferring and reading of files without having to sync to iTunes or Zune. That right there makes it winner in my book.

  6. What about the plethora of Windows 8 alternatives to the surface? Microsoft give their consumers a choice just like Google. What about alternatives to Apple’s devices? LMAO, give me a break.

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