Even with Office for iPad, my daughter wants a Surface 2 for college

Even with Office for iPad, my daughter wants a Surface 2 for college

Summary: Sure, Office for iPad will help some justify using the iPad for work. But there other reasons people do or don't decide to buy an iPad.

Even with Office of iPad, my daughter wants a Surface 2 for college

Today's launch of Office for iPad may get a few more folks using their iPad for work. In fact, I thought this release might convince my daughter in college that an iPad was the tablet for her. But she remains convinced that another tablet is best for her needs.

My daughter has an iPhone 5 as her smartphone and a MacBook Pro as her college computer. So when she came to me asking for a tablet to use as a more portable, larger display device for taking notes and working on the go, I naturally assumed she wanted an iPad.

She said she uses Office quite a bit for Word and Excel so I told her about some solid iOS apps for such work while also talking about the future release of the official Office program.

It turns out that she wasn't focused just on Office, but the whole tablet experience. As a result, I sent her various good Android alternatives since she didn't seem to want an iPad. Her answer, after quite a bit of her own research, actually surprised me a bit.

She chose the new Microsoft Surface 2 as her preferred tablet. I did write that the Surface was a solid choice for college students; but I didn't think that meant my daughter would end up making that choice as well. Here is what she sent me when I specifically asked her why a Surface 2 over an iPad:

I don't like the Apple OS in tablet form. The apps look awkwardly small and weird. The Surface just has an overall better aesthetic as far as tablets go. It's like the Surface was designed to be a tablet whereas the iPad is just taking the iPhone and making it bigger, but keeping the same size app squares and adding a few app features. I like that the Surface can sit up, it seems more natural to hold and less likely to drop. The keyboard attachments are cool for when I need to write lots of text as well.

She also gets Office on the Surface 2 and that won't require a subscription like Office on the iPad. I thought about giving her my first generation Surface Pro and buying a Surface Pro 2 for myself, but it doesn't have Office, it is heavier than the Surface 2, and the battery doesn't last as long.

I tried using a Surface RT early last year, but it just didn't meet my specific needs, while my Surface Pro is used daily and I absolutely love it. There are different devices for different people and no one device will ever meet the needs of all.

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Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets, Microsoft Surface

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  • Smart Choice

    Ram U
    • For uni students, it depends

      Let's do an inventory from the article:
      o iPhone 5
      o Macbook Pro
      o Surface 2

      That's a lot of kit for a uni student (translation: a lot of $$$$).

      Let's try a more common scenario for uni students that don't have well-to-do parents whom are device-aholics. And let's assume that the uni student has a low-end Android smartphone and get that out of the way. What single portable device would you recommend to uni students for the following:

      o Arts and Letters (remember that History and Architecture live here)
      o Business and Economics
      o Science and Engineering
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Asus Transformer T100?

        $350 and it effectively fills the need of a notebook and a tablet in one device.

        Unless having the latest angry birds is the primary concern, I see no reason why any device with a mobile operating system would even enter into the choices.
        • My recommendation too

          As the Transformer Book T100 is using an Atom Bay Trail processor, it is an Intel processor so it is running an x86 version of Windows, not the RT for ARM processors, therefore making it a fully compatible Windows device.

          The Bay Trail with Intel Graphics HD runs the interface very smoothly, battery lasts for long.

          Though battery it seems wastes quite fast in stand by unlike ARM devices, is it a Transformer Book problem or an Intel stand by issue? It wastes not as fast as when I'm using it, but comparable with regular laptops in sleep so if I leave it in sleep overnight it might loose quite a bit. For a tablet, it should have stand by life comparable to ARM devices which can stay days in stand by.
          • Oh forgot to mention

            Office comes with it even though it is an Intel tablet. New versions I heard arrived with a 500Gig HDD in the keyboard dock.
      • surface 2

        Is sufficient for most of the stuff. You might need full laptop occasionally when you're in school. You could buy cheaper laptop for that.
        Ram U
        • Ram U: "You could buy cheaper laptop for that"

          True, but it's outside the parameters. Remember, one portable device.

          I believe that both Emacho (above) and Cain69 (below) nailed it. Both suggested hybrids, one less expensive with Windows 8.1 and the other quite a bit more expensive with Windows 8.1 Professional. And considerably cheaper than the combination of a Macbook Pro and Microsoft Surface 2.

          Microsoft's Surface 2 is essentially a tablet and is incapable of running the rich applications that many uni students require, especially those studying science, engineering, economics, architecture, etc.

          There, I said it. Hybrids represent a sweet spot for uni students, especially those who are just squeaking by financially (a rather large percentage).

          P.S. And there's no good reason why techie students couldn't install the GNU/Linux desktop of their choice on their hybrids. Remember, there's lots of Linux jobs and they are growing. :()
          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Well Engineering students were not mentioned originally

            Anyway for Advanced courses students I would say Surface Pro 2 as a better choice. It eliminates 3 things, tablet need, laptop need and higher end smartphone need. Just for texting and talking even a regular cellphone or cheaper phones like Lumia 52x, Galaxy S3, iPhone 4 etc. would be sufficient.
            Ram U
          • I would tell you what I would choose for myself if

            I could relive my college years today knowing what I know now.

            First off, let's get rid of the price issue. Todays universities DEMAND a heavy financial commitment from students (and parents) alike. Knowing that, the price of good hardware and software that will last for four years of rugged "abuse" in a university environment will be but a very small slice of the total University experience cost. Do we agree? Viewed that way, I would not go "up front cheap" for my computer costs over four to five years.

            Secondly, I would choose light weight products. Lightweight in mobile is everything. Well, not exactly everything. Powerful capabilities are even more important so I would try to maximize both characteristics for my system.

            So, what would I choose? I'm afraid that I would opt for an Apple based ecosystem at this point in time.

            Since I'm going to enroll in the 2014 fall semester (Very Big Grin), my potential choices would be:

            1) A new Mac Book Air with retina display. (A vaporware product at this point but highly rumored to be a shipping product by that Fall deadline)

            2) An iPhone 6 (My personal size preference would be for the smaller of the two rumored sizes)

            3) An iPad. I have the mini (retina) but if the weight remains the same (or even less) for the updated iPad Air with the A8 chipset, I might be inclined to go that route. However, the 7.9" mini case size is a nice, on the go, sweat spot for a tablet.)

            Of course, because this system can, I would also have virtual Windows 8 and Linux machines installed on my MBA to run ANY software that my university classes might demand.

            And, because I have had a great experience with software that enables my iPads to become wireless secondary extended display screens for my laptop, I would not limit myself to a 10 or 12 inch single mobile display screen experience. (Having a dual monitor setup is really nice.)

            I chose Apple hardware because it works and lasts. Throw in an Apple TV and a HDTV set and I can easily have a very large extended display screen to work on my projects inside my dorm (God Forbid!!!!!!) or off campus apartment. (A OS X Mavericks builtin advantage there, I admit)

            So, that would be my choices. An iPad Air plus an MBA would still probably weigh less together than a typical 3 to 3.5 pound laptop alone. Like I stated, lightweight in mobility is a very valuable and desirable attribute. Don't forget, I'll need to carry some textbooks along with me during the day. Grin.
          • high end phone compulsory

            Without it, you are an outcast as everyone else at uni is sucked into the Clash of Clans disease.
        • Only if

          Like Matt Miller, you're a Microsoft Fanboi. The Surface 2 pro can get real expensive, real fast. There is no need to spend up to $2,000 on one when you can get much more, for less. Well unless that "Microsoft label", is the only important factor.
          I hate trolls also
      • Simple Evaluation

        Such a simple evaluation and reason. "Surface was designed to be a tablet whereas the iPad is just taking the iPhone and making it bigger". But buried in it are an amazing set of superficial perceptions and deeper engineering.
        • Netbook

          Using pure observation, Surface _ is designed to be a Netbook without a keyboard supplied, of which you later must purchase to complete the set. The iPad Air is designed to be the best tablet in the world, using tablet apps. Tablet apps are almost always first designed for iOS, then Android, and later, if one has the time, WindowsRT --- it is just the facts. The closest competition to the Surface is a Chromebook. Cost being no object, you could always get a Macbook Air. Best low cost solution to note taking is a notepad and a pen -- about a $5 option.
          • You've bought it hook, line and sinker

            "The iPad Air is designed to be the best tablet in the world"

            Are you simply repeating that because Jonny Ive said it? Either way, you're repeating Apple's sales patter without any justification.

            Which tablet vendor would say that theirs *wasn't* designed to be the best tablet? Do you think Jeff Bezos would say "our Kindle Fire HDX is designed specifically for the middle of the market"? Do you think Ballmer was talked out of launching the Surface by saying "we know it's not as good as other tablets, but we didn't see the point in making it any better"?

            Of course not.

            Forget about what its producers say it was designed to be; maybe you could add exactly why *you* think that the iPad Air is the best tablet in the world.

            This is the problem I have with most fanboys (and I own a rMBP): they just keep repeating the mantra that theirs is simply the best, but they can't explain why. It's simply herd mentality.

            "Surface _ is designed to be a Netbook without a keyboard supplied"

            Uh-huh... is that why it replaced the desktop with a UI designed for touch-screens?

            "Best low cost solution to note taking is a notepad and a pen -- about a $5 option."

            This, however, is an opinion which I wholeheartedly endorse. Having been to university in two slightly different ages of technology, there's nothing more efficient than flicking through a physical, paper textbook and reading off a page, and the easiest way to take lecture notes is on paper with a pen or pencil.
          • #1

            Show me the number of times the iPad was compared to other tablets and lost. It wins every time. Developers make apps for iPad, then the rest. Show me a screen with better color and clarity -- retina display is awesome and the colors are very true. The Surface is a Netbook and failed in every comparison with the iPad. Now compared to the Chromebook --- maybe the Surface is better for productivity for a student. A Chromebook is more productive as well. These are basically used like a laptop -- she has a Macbook -- perfect for college. She has it all already.
          • Trouble reading

            You must have trouble reading. The article is about an instance where the iPad lost. iPad does not win every time. A college student with buying power has decided that an iPad is just a large iPhone. The much criticized Metro interface was judge superior because it was designed for a tablet to start with. This person has very little preconceived ideas. They just liked the look of Metro better.

            For better color and clarity look at a Kindle Fire 8.9 HDX. It blows away the iPad especially color.
          • OMG.

            You live in delusion world mytake4this.

            Complete delusion.

            Everytime someone decides to purchase a different tablet than an iPad there is a comparison lost by the iPad with dollars on the table backing up the decision.

            Lets all now get into the big debate over the fact iPads are by far the best selling tablet. And while we are at it we can use all the same arguments used in the discussions of Windows being the best selling computer operating system. Let me see here...as I recall one particularly compelling argument many Mac fans user to point out is that when people go to the local computer store and its Windows Windows Windows computers everywhere its not too easy to sell a Mac. Likewise Im sure when iPads are selling like hotcakes for ages long before the first Windows tablet came out.

            Don't tell us the iPad never loses a battle. It does, and will probably lose a lot more in the future as well.
          • Or simply because

            It's true. No mater what the Microsoft employee (posing as an independent, unbiased reviewer) claims. The surface is over-priced, for what it is. For $2,000, you could buy several Laptops, that will outperform the surface 2, and still have enough left over for a PS 4. Go figure, take the "Microsoft Label" off, and the real price shows up $399. yet Microsoft sees fit to charge $2,000 for a Netbook.
            Then add @200 for the keyboard
            and you come to $1,999.98, or $2,000.
            I hate trolls also
          • cost being no object

            The last choice would be a Macbook Air.
            Uni students are actually demanding road warriors.
            MBA may be a weapon of choice in 2011 but they are facing obsolescence with convergence devices.
            Even Macbook Pros are just Maxi Airs now and losing ground against current state of the art portables.
            Cost no object, I'd go a Lenovo Helix ultrabook convertible. I DARE anyone to use one of these and then wish they had a Macbook Air instead.
          • For the $1,999.98 price of a Surface

            Why stop at a $1,299.00? when you could get:
            2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
            Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz
            8GB 1600MHz memory
            512GB PCIe-based flash storage
            Intel Iris Graphics
            Built-in battery (9 hours)
            For less than a Surface 2?
            For $200 LESS you get a vastly superior machine, with better graphics, and longer battery life.
            I hate trolls also