iPad or Surface

It used to be that picking a tablet was fairly simple – get an iPad. Today, however, the market has been flooded with every imaginable shape and size of a tablet, boasting different operating systems, functions and accessories. Recently, Microsoft released its own tablet, the Surface, again pitting two titans of the computer industry against each other. The real question now is which one to buy?

First, the iPad.

Apple’s iPad made its debut in April of  2010 to great acclaim. Playing off the success of the iPhone, this new, larger device meant that apps would be much easier to read and navigate. The larger form factor played a role in its popularity over contemporary e-readers – the iPad’s 9.7in display was larger entirely than most of them! Additionally, it came equipped with apps that previous iPhone users were familiar with, plus Wi-Fi and access apps in the App Store.

Currently, on its fourth generation, which includes the smaller iPad Mini, it is a very popular tablet. Over 225,000 apps are iPad specific, and the popular iBooks app lets users read entire virtual books. The popularity of the iPad and other Apple products means that there is a whole host of accessories available from Apple and third-party retailers, like the iPad Ram Mount, which comes in several different form factors. It is truly a popular device, and widespread support means that there is an app or accessory for any need/preference. The 4th gen iPad currently retails from $499; the iPad Mini from $329.

On the other hand, is the Surface. First unveiled by Microsoft in October 2012, it boasts more robust innards than the iPads and is a more powerful device. It comes in two versions, the Surface RT and Surface Pro. Running Microsoft’s oft-maligned Windows RT and Windows 8, this device is more like a netbook than a “traditional tablet”. Apps are limited because of Microsoft’s smaller market share and its relative age compared to the iPad, but it has a one-up on the iPad in that it can run many desktop programs, due to its more PC-like architecture.

As far as accessories, Microsoft has released some covers that double as keyboards, making the Surface into more of a laptop-like device. Microsoft also offers micro-mice and a wide range of adapters for the Surface, allowing it to connect to TVs and monitors. Due to low sales and adoption, there’s not as much out there for the Surface as for the iPad. The Surface RT starts at $349, the Surface Pro at $799.

So which one is the better buy? It all depends on preference and what a user needs in a tablet – performance, size, apps, and price.

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