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Microsoft Surface Tablet VS Apple iPad

New iPad VS Microsoft Surface RT: Screen

Here things swing dramatically in Apple’s favour. The 9.7in Retina Display on its new iPad is simply stunning, and sports an un-matched 2,048 x 1,536 resolution. That’s more than most desktop monitors, and certainly more than the average tablet.

We’re still not sure whether the 10.6in Surface RT will only be offered with a 1,366 x 768 resolution or whether the Full HD res found on the Surface Pro will also be an option, but either way Microsoft’s tablet loses out – with one exception: when watching video and playing widescreen games, Apple’s ‘squarer’ aspect ratio is far from ideal, resulting in big black bars.

Verdict: iPad hits the bull’s ‘i’

Yes the Surface’s widescreen display may be preferable for watching movies and TV shows, but the iPad 3’s Retina Display is still unmatched and unrivalled.

iPad VS Surface: Specs

This is a tough one as the Surface RT’s specifications haven’t all been confirmed. The Microsoft tablet is most likely to sport a quad-core Tegra 3 derivative, but we wouldn’t rule out a quad-core Snapdragon S4/Krait either. The former beats the new iPad’s A5X SoC in CPU performance but pulls the short straw when it comes to GPU power, while the latter with Adreno 300-series GPU would give the A5X a serious trouncing in every regard.

RAM is also unconfirmed, but at a guess both tablets will have the same 1GB. In storage the iPad and Surface RT are again well-matched, with 16-64GB for the iPad and 32-64GB for the Microsoft tab. However, Surface lets you double its memory using a microSD card, where Apple’s candidate is limited to what you buy it with.

Verdict: Even Steven

Until we know more we’re calling this one a draw, though thanks to its expandable storage the Surface already holds an edge.

iPad VS Surface Windows RT: Software

The RT has Office, ‘nuff said. Seriously though, considering the severe lack of comprehensive Office suites to rival Microsoft’s offering on both iOS and Android, we can’t see anything touching Surface with Windows RT and Office 15 Apps for those interested in productivity. Windows 8 RT will also make for a more flexible platform than iOS.

In every other regard, Apple’s iPad has the software advantage. Windows 8 RT will inevitably be the underdog when it comes to app selection compared to the long-established iOS and Android competition, at least for a while.

Verdict: iPad ices the competition

Until Windows 8 RT builds up momentum, the iPad has it beat for software choice - unless productivity is a priority, in which case RT’s Office 15 Apps will makes a compelling argument for the Microsoft option. Of course this argument doesn’t apply to the X86 Surface Pro, which has the entire Windows 7 back catalogue at its disposal.


The Surface tablet is more flexible and thinner. It offers a kickstand, keyboard covers, bundled Microsoft Office, and far better connectivity. Its Windows 8 RT OS is also a potentially more powerful platform. In all, it has the ingredients to be a far better laptop replacement than the iPad.

On the other hand the new iPad has a far higher ‘Retina’ screen resolution, is slightly lighter, arguably looks better, has a massive installed user base, and a huge app selection.

It might be too early to call a winner, but it’s certain that if Microsoft can launch its tablet as presented and with everything working smoothly, it will have one heck of a contender on its hands.

sandy Yoost

July 7, 2012, 5:59 am

Couple other aras to compare:
1) price: iPad price is known, Surface is not
2) ship date: iPad ship date is yesterday, Surface not known
3) battery life: iPad is known, surface is not

Which one wins now?


July 7, 2012, 9:02 am

1. Why don't you use the WART (Windows ARM RT) acronym? It is very convenient?
2. Are you kidding me? You compare two products:
a. One which has been shipping for months.
b. One which you have spent 2 minutes touching.

Trusted? Methinks not.


July 7, 2012, 1:36 pm

You say yourself that for all three we don't know what the surface will have, so how can you compare. You certainly can't call a winner based on those criteria.


July 7, 2012, 1:40 pm

Convenient perhaps but not actually accurate.

It's an early speculative article based on our first impressions. That much is made clear and the conclusion reflects this.


July 7, 2012, 3:45 pm

How can you compare two items, one of which has been shipping for months and the other is pure vaporware. Reviewers' at the Surface 'hands-on' demo weren't even allowed to touch the things particularly the flat keyboard.

Utter pap.


July 7, 2012, 11:52 pm

Hilarious... Your review is just like Bomber's product - complete vaporware - non-existant - mist - LIES!!

You can't review a product that doesn't exist!!! You certainly can't do a COMPARISON ANALYSIS against a product that actually has sold MILLIONS OF COPIES versus Z E R O !!! ZERO.

Your review is a JOKE.


July 8, 2012, 4:06 am

Have any of you actually read the article fully before commenting?

I quote from the Conclusion: "It might be TOO EARLY to call a winner, but it's certain that IF Microsoft can launch its tablet AS PRESENTED and with everything working smoothly, it WILL HAVE one heck of a contender on its hands." [emphasis added]

@Winski - It's not a JOKE or LIES, - or a REVIEW for that matter, where does it say that? - it's a speculative comparison based on what we know.

Among other things it's meant to inform readers who want to make a tablet purchasing decision but aren't sure whether they should wait for Surface or go for iPad now.


July 8, 2012, 3:33 pm

Guys please try to quote the right specs, especially when your statements depend on them.

The Surface RT weights in at 676g - not 576g - so it's not very light and actually heavier than the iPad.. see the real specs at https://www.microsoft.com/g...


July 9, 2012, 2:11 pm

Humble apologies, and thanks for pointing that out. Article has been amended.


July 9, 2012, 9:37 pm

At least at this review goes, the name of the website should be changed from "Trusted Reviews" to "Wishful Thinking"

Steve Pye

July 9, 2012, 10:27 pm

Umm... I would say that the fact that this article is on a site called "Trusted Reviews" makes it a review by default. Your own words in your comment that it's a "speculative comparison" necessitates that your conclusion at the end is really only a guess.

I'm also a little puzzled by some missing research. You claim that Apple makes no keyboard accessory for the iPad, but Apple released a keyboard dock on day 1 with the first iPad. Furthermore, it works with their bluetooth keyboard. Those are, by definition, keyboard accessories for the iPad, and Apple does indeed make them.


July 10, 2012, 12:01 am

What nonsense. So Burger King shouldn't sell anything but burgers? The URL and all the page titling clearly suggests this is a 'feature' or opinion piece.

Point taken that Apple has released keyboard accessories of a sort. It perhaps should've been clearer that we were thinking of portable/case accessories - something that you'd actually take with you on your travels. Apple's two solutions aren't really suited to this.


July 10, 2012, 12:05 am

As a general point, we take onboard the idea that perhaps our templates for opinion pieces/features don't make it clear enough that they aren't reviews. This wasn't a deliberate decision to fool anyone, merely that because our reviews have the word 'review' plastered all over them, it seemed clear to us that those pages without these markers wouldn't be interpreted as reviews. However, this clear isn't the case. We're looking at redesigning our feature pages so will definitely take into account this point.


July 10, 2012, 1:01 am

I would like to speculatively compare something too – app pricing using a popular game like Fifa 13 as an example.

Fifa 13 will be released for multiple platforms this Autumn. The Xbox and PS3 versions will be about £40 and the PC version £25. The IOS version will be at most £4.99 judging by Fifa12 and it looks very good.

What do you think the Surface version would be priced at if released? An RT version would surely have to be about £4.99, but what about the Surface Pro? Will the PC version work and you have to pay £25 or will there be a separate version. If it is the same price as RT, why would anyone using Windows 8 pay for the full desktop version, and if it isn't why am I paying £1000 for a tablet and then getting shafted on apps as well?


July 15, 2012, 1:55 am

"Trusted Reviews" Apparently "trusted" meaning BS and "reviews" meaning more BS.

F Leghorn

July 15, 2012, 4:50 pm

"However many third-party keyboard accessories are available for Apple's tablet, the company itself does not sell one in any kind, shape or form."

Except for these:


Get a clue before you write an article.


July 26, 2012, 12:20 am

Wow, what a bunch of malarky (and I run on Windows). Come on guys, did Microsoft pay you for this? Or give you advertising in return or something?

The idea of comparing a functioning product you can buy, use and measure with something that your author hasn't used, doesn't have specifications for, no journalist has gotten to touch while it was powered on (a select few only got to fondle the Surface while it was off, briefly), don't have a price for and that may or may not get released by the end of the year - seems like something you can't actually do if you are being intellectually honest with yourselves.

Ed, when looking for a large bold headline title for this article since it isn't a review - I'd vote for "Comparison created by Microsoft PR Department".

I think the best part of this "comparison" was this - "It might be too early to call a winner".... Really? Ya think?

Can you really compare something that is actually real to something that is vaporware, that you haven't gotten to use, at all, and you don't know the details for?


July 26, 2012, 3:07 pm

@beezillia & Sasparilla & everyone else who's apparently hating this:
Appreciate the feedback, but...

Seriously, it's not like we (or many other tech sites, for that matter) have never published speculative articles before. Why no hatred for the pieces comparing to the iPhone 5 - which less is known about, incidentally? Why reserve the vitreol for this?

All the main specs of this Microsoft's tablet are known, so there is certainly valid ground for comparison. We know what it looks like, what connections it has, and mostly what's under the hood.

RE this not being a review, we publish news, opinion pieces (which this is) previews, hands-ons and various articles, none of which are reviews... we've done this for years. As Ed says, you might as well claim Burger King should only sell burgers as require us to only write reviews because of our name.

@F Leghorn:
Read the article before you post a clueless comment.
"third-party keyboard accessories are available FOR APPLE's TABLET". Those keyboards you link to are just Apple's standard wireless keyboard which it sells for its Mac line etc.

I'm obviously talking about a peripheral designed specifically for the available iPad(s) (and not the iPad 1's dock) which would turn it into a 'laptop' equivalent.

No (sigh), we didn't get bribed, paid, or anything of the sort. We didn't get advertising, and didn't communicate with Microsoft or any of its partners before or after writing this piece. We just happen to like innovation and good design, which is why we gave the Transformer Pad 300 10/10. As presented, the Surface is similarly flexible.

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