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Can it be used for anything I need, even if I don't know it now?
Can it be used to do whatever I need, from video transcoding to DVD playback to conferencing using whatever tool the client wants to anything else I need?
What about all those demands we put on our work machines that we can't predict? Each new day introduces new ideas and new projects. I need a machine that can handle almost all of them with ease.
64-bit iPad 5: Not really. The iPad is surprisingly capable, but also has baffling limitations based on how iOS is designed.
Surface 2 RT: No. Not at all. Don't even think about it.
Surface 2 Pro: Yes. If you get the version with 8GB RAM and a pretty big SSD, this is a pretty capable business machine.
And the winner is...
I decided to award 2 points to every "Yes," one point to every "Maybe," and no points to every "No". The total possible points (and what we're shooting for to be able to replace my current laptop) is 22. Let's see which gets closer.
64-bit iPad 5: The iPad got a 9 (with a few generous gimmees). It's a pretty capable device, but it fails completely on the need to work with the educational systems. Almost everything else could be crudely hacked, but the fact I can't access the learning management systems I need to grade students is a complete deal-killer.
Surface 2 RT: The RT machine got a 7 (and I was generous here, too). This machine is valuable pretty much only if you need to run Office and nothing but Office. I'd have a much better chance doing my job on the iPad than this.
Surface 2 Pro: I originally thought this was going to be a pretty anemic machine because I thought it was limited to 2GB or 4GB of RAM. While I prefer 16GB or 32GB of RAM because it makes things easier, I could do my entire job using a Surface 2 Pro equipped with a big SSD and 8GB of RAM. It got a perfect score of 22.
The winner is... the Surface 2 Pro!
Would I get a Surface 2 Pro? I'm not sure. I don't need the tablet form factor as much as I do the laptop form factor, but it is intriguing. I'll tell you this: after putting together this shoot-out, I'm far more inclined to the Surface 2 Pro than when I set out to do the comparison.
Image: GraphicStock and Microsoft