Apple iPad Air vs Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Interface and Functionality
In addition to getting the customary set of upgraded hardware, these new tablets are also accompanied with refreshed software experiences too – albeit, there’s more of a profound change with the iPad Air’s iOS 7 experience. Let’s not focus on what’s new with them, but instead, we’ll explain some of things that we like and dislike about them.
When it comes to the presentation value, it’s a tough call as to which of the two we prefer more, since they have their own unique elements. On the surface, the iOS 7 experience continues to follow the formula of having a simplified and intuitive interface, which now has been given some new visual changes and enhancements. However, there’s still something about the dynamic look of the Windows 8.1 start screen that catches our attention – thanks in part to the animated live tiles that comprise it. Also worth mentioning, the Surface Pro 2 is running a full desktop OS, as opposed to just a tablet centric one like the iPad Air.
Those live tiles, in fact, are also what Microsoft relies on with the platform’s notifications system. We might drool over how they look appealing and all, but it’s just a disorganized mess trying to hunt down specific notifications. Bearing that in mind, that’s why we absolutely prefer the iOS 7’s implementation, since everything is populated in the notifications center.
Having access to the full power of a desktop OS, the Surface Pro 2’s enhanced Windows 8.1 experience handles multi-tasking in a more ideal manner, seeing that two apps can be placed side-by-side – with the ability to adjust the windows to our liking. In addition, we’re presented with that true multi-tasking experience with software running in desktop mode. Well, the iOS 7’s implementation hasn’t changed, so it isn’t as practical.
You’d think that the Surface Pro 2 would be preloaded with Office, giving it a productivity edge over the iPad Air, but it’s actually not on board with the tablet – sorry to say. Instead, you’ll need to install your own copy, or purchase it separately if you don't have one. It’s not a big deal per se, especially when there are a few free alternatives out there. Well, brand new iPad Air owners have the option to download the iWork suite of apps for free.
There are no concerns trying to type long passages of text on either tablet, mainly due to their spacious layouts, responsiveness, and killer auto-correct features. As a whole, we don’t find one that’s necessarily better than the other, since the experience is so good with the two.
As we continue learning the ins and outs of each respective platform experience, we come to the realization that the iOS 7 experience of the iPad Air is a simple and fun one. Furthermore, the long development cycle of iOS in general has given the tablet platform a healthy ecosystem of third party apps. It might still be trying to establish its foot amongst consumers, but the Windows 8.1 experience of the Surface Pro 2 targets power users who are all about productivity.
Processor and Memory
Sporting two totally different processors, one that’s notable for being based on 64-bit architecture, while the other bears PC-like components, these two tablets have the same thing in common – they’re fast, like speedy fast! On the iPad Air, it’s powered by a 64-bit based dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A7 processor coupled with 1GB of RAM and the PowerVR G6430 GPU, which rarely exhibits any stutter with its performance. At the same time, the Surface Pro 2’s 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor, a dual-core clocked in at 1.6GHz, combined with 4GB of RAM and the Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU, delivers the same lightning fast operations like the iPad Air. Whether it’s simple tasks, or intensive ones, they playfully exhibit a solid amount of finesse with their performances.
When it comes to storage options, it’s nice to know that they’re available in a wide array of capacities. The iPad Air is available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities, but there’s no expandability with it whatsoever. It’s not an issue with the Surface Pro 2, since it boasts a microSD card slot, but considering it’s more PC than anything else, Microsoft gladly blesses it with higher capacities – 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB options to be exact. Though, the latter two models are outfitted with 8GB of RAM, instead of the usual 4GB.
Internet and Connectivity
Not surprisingly, the web browsing experience is spot-on fantastic with these two prized stallions. For starters, they lay claim to all the lovable elements that make the experience so useful – like their speedy page loads, instant page rendering, and buttery smooth navigational controls. Sure, the Surface Pro 2’s Internet Explorer is a full-fledged desktop browser, but the iPad Air’s Safari browser matches it in nearly every features category.
Currently, it’s only the iPad Air that’s manufactured in both Wi-Fi and 4G LTE models – whereas it’s Wi-Fi only with the Surface Pro 2. At the very least, they contain the base set of connectivity features, which consists of aGPS and Bluetooth 4.0. Like we mentioned earlier, the Surface Pro 2 benefits by having PC-like ports – giving it more versatility than its rival.
Apple iPad Air vs Microsoft Surface Pro 2 - Interface and Functionality