Microsoft Surface vs. Apple’s iPad

June 19, 2012

Microsoft’s announcement about its Surface tablets left a lot of unanswered questions. One key point that will help determine how the tablet does in the market has yet to be determined — the price. The Surface comes in two flavors: a version that runs Windows RT and a version that runs Windows 8 Pro. That means only the latter will be able to run all your Windows programs, meaning that it’s likely, though not certain, to get a higher price tag.

But even without all the details in place, it’s clear that Microsoft has produced a product that is intended to compete with high-end tablets and even ultrabooks. Here’s a look at the tablet, by the numbers, against Apple’s iPad.

Screen size: Both versions of the tablet boast 10.6-inch screens, bigger than the iPad’s 9.7-inch display. The company promises that the Surface will have an “HD display,” but hasn’t offered specifics that could be matched up against the iPad’s “Retina display.” CNET reports that the Surface has a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Weight: The RT version is lighter than its counterpart, weighing in at 1.5 pounds rather than 1.9 pounds. Both are heavier than the 1.4 pound iPad (well, the cellular version is 1.46 pounds), but still impressively light.

Casing: Microsoft made a big deal out of its “VaporMg” finish on the case, which is supposed to make the tablet easy to grip. And where the iPad is all smooth aluminum contours, Microsoft has opted for a more angular approach.

Thickness: The RT tablet itself is about iPad-depth at .37 inches thick, while the Windows 8 Pro version is .53 inches thick.

Ports: A point to Microsoft here: both versions of the Surface come with two USB ports (2.0 on the RT version, 3.0 on the Windows 8 Pro model), which also account for the device’s thickness. The need for extra dongles has been a persistent complaint about the iPad, and a major selling point for Android tablets.

Accessories: When Microsoft revealed its candy-colored cover on Monday, it immediately looked like a knock-off of Apple’s Smart Cover. But then, the Redmond, Wash.-based company offered a twist: the cover is the keyboard. The 3mm-thick keyboard also comes in two versions — with a difference in key construction— but both have a touchpad.

Apple, of course, has a whole range of accessories that can go with the iPad including its new Smart Case. But Apple itself doesn’t make a docking keyboard for the iPad in the same way Asus has embraced keyboards for its Transformer Prime, preferring to leave that to third-party manufacturers.

Microsoft also showed off a pen — yes, a stylus — that is included with the Windows 8 version of the tablet and attaches to it magnetically. Plus, the Surface is its own stand, with a built-in kickstand in the back.

Storage: Users can get the Surface with 32GB or 64 GB of memory on the RT tablet; or pick up its big brother with 64 GB or 128 GB. Overall, that’s more memory on offer than the 16GB, 32 GB or 64GB options you have with the iPad.

Connectivity: Microsoft touted a strong WiFi connection on Surface, but didn’t mention any cellular connectivity. The iPad, of course, has a WiFi and cellular option that runs on AT&T or Verizon networks.

Related stories:

The Verge: First impressions of Microsoft Surface

Microsoft unveils Surface tablets

The Verge: Xbox document leak may shed some light on Microsoft’s plan for next-generation console

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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