Surface RT vs iPad

So the Surface RT is now available to preorder. But how does it compare the market leader, the 3rd generation iPad?  And which one should you get?

In my recent other comparison, iPhone 5 vs Lumia 920, I talked about how ecosystem was the wining factor for iOS with the inclusion of the light thin hardware.  The Lumia 920 with the Windows Phone 8 had to bring compelling hardware to overcome that difference.  In this case the Surface RT at first glance doesn't bring much compelling beyond expandability thru USB & MicroSDXC.  And you probably don't think I will bring up ecosystem on a brand new OS (Windows RT) that has only about 4000 apps.  But I will, because here we have the power of Windows and its ecosystem.  My favourite example is imagine you are out there with only your tablet.  Your favourite artists posts some free songs on their blog.  On the iPad you can listen to them.  On Windows RT, I can download the track.  Then use File Explorer to add to my library and its permanently in my music library.  This is just the start of the power of using Windows in a tablet.  In addition you have flash support and Office RT.  (Basically full copies of Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint).  Sure the app library might be small.  But you'll be so much more productive and organized.  And when you consider that Windows 8 has the same app store with most apps working on Windows RT you can't expect huge growth and larger install base than iPad in less than a year.

But back to hardware.  Did I mention included USB and MicroSDXC.  So attach a USB Mouse or your 2TB external HDD.  Or need more storage on the go, get a 64GB MicroSDXC card for $60.  Win!  The problem with the iPad is you pay a decent price but are limited to what you can do.  You can't just download a song into the iTunes Library and you can't just expand your storage.  You have to plan ahead.  The Surface with Windows RT changes that.  Based on less restrictions but an extremely well built OS and durable design its something consumers should consider.

The iPad has a dual core Apple A5X with quad core graphics which is a more graphically enhanced version of the A5 with only dual core graphics.  In benchmarks the quad core NVIDIA Tegra 3 beat the original A5.  So the A5X wins right?  Yes and no.  The Tegra still beats in terms of CPU performance.  The A5X with the quad core graphics excels there.  However in regards to the Surface, there are less pixels need in terms of graphics.  When Apple introduced Retina there was the need for better graphics to handle all those extra pixels.

And you should get the iPad for the Retina display right?  Its the biggest downside of the Surface if you listen to geeks.  First both screens are better than HD.  Second Microsoft includes ClearType technology that uses subpixel technology to create clear text.  Second Microsoft argues in blind tests, people preferred the Surface display.  Why, they explain that the denser pixels in the iPad can have less constrast.  Basically the light or colour from one pixel interferes with neighboring pixels.  In addition the display is optically bonded.  This will create a more real life image.  Is this all true?  We will have to wait for reviews.  But I do agree that a display is more than just pixels.  My old 1024x768 "HD" Plasma was always commented by friends as having such great picture.  Sure my new 1080p 3DTV is nice, but oddly not a huge jump.  Regardless for now, I gave both Resolution and PPI to the iPad.

So for the first time, 7 for each.  A tie.  But look again.  What matters to you.  I think you'll find the Surface matters more... it does more.  Period.  The iPad starts at $499 for 16GB and $599 for 32GB.  Surface at $499 with 32GB or $599 with Touch Cover (pictured).




Surface RT

Display Size

9.7 in

10.6 in

Display Resolution



Pixels Per Inch




Apple A5X








Network Tech

WiFi (a,b,g,n) or WiFi & LTE

Dual Antenna WiFi (a,b,g,n)




Back Camera

5.0MP, 1080p


Front Camera




Limited support thru additional dongle.

Built in USB 2.0

Expandable Storage







9.5 in

6.77 in


7.31 in

10.81 in


.37 in


Battery Mixed

10 hours

8 hours


iWorks (additional cost)

Office RT included free of charge.

File Management


Windows File Explorer


iCloud with 5GB

SkyDrive with 7GB



Xbox Music with free streaming



Limited in IE RT, Full in IE Desktop Mode.


Black, White

Dark Titanium

App Store




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