Tablet Wars: Microsoft's Surface Takes On Apple's iPad

Microsoft's release of the Surface sees the technology giant in an unfamiliar underdog position. How does their product fare against Apple's iPad?
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Microsoft's release of the Surface sees the technology giant in an unfamiliar underdog position. How does their product fare against Apple's iPad?

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Why risk purchasing Microsoft's first crack at a tablet when Apple's iPad is already much loved by consumers? The first reason is that nobody likes a monopolised market. The second is that the Surface is actually pretty good – perfect, in particular, for the workplace.

According to Microsoft boss Steve Balmer, the Surface has had a 'modest' introduction to the market. It looks as though all the advertising and plugging of the Surface along with Windows 8 isn't exactly getting people racing to the stores. However, this could be down to limited availability: for a time, it was only available from Microsoft online, though more recently it has been on sale through retail giants John Lewis.

Reviews of the product have so far been fairly positive, with some stating that it fills the void between tablet and laptop. The USB port, MS Office package and touch cover may well be the reasons for this. The incorporation of MS Office, in particular, is a big plus in the Surface's favour. The touch-and-type pads are elegant add-ons, connecting via magnets and doubling up as a cover for the tablet. These features maintain the laptop experience and provide a business feel that isn't as prominent with the iPad.

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That said, while the Surface is absolutely perfect for business use, it is seriously flagging in the entertainment department. It features significantly fewer apps than the iPad, ranging from those work-related to the usual bird flinging games. The screen department is another area where the Surface is trumped by its rival: its 10.6" display (1366x768 pixels) is far less crisp in comparison.

If price is on your mind, then a 32GB Surface will set you back around £399. To get the much needed touch cover included, you're looking at paying £479. The iPad costs around the same price (£399) but  only for a 16GB unit.

So, who wins the tablet wars? If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing, business-aware product that fills that void between laptop and tablet, then opt for the Surface. If you're more of an Angry Birds enthusiast, looking for a tablet that boasts a myriad of apps and provides fun for the whole family, then throw your money at an iPad.