My daughter wants an iPad mini and my son wants a Surface

My daughter wants an iPad mini and my son wants a Surface

Summary: What's a father to do when his kids want two different technologies in a house bound by technology? The answer might surprise you.


My precocious 11-year old daughter announced a few days ago that she wants an iPad mini for Christmas. Although she occasionally uses my iPad 1, she's never seemed particularly interesting in one of her own. I think part of the appeal is the cuteness of the mini. Although I don't see any particular purpose for the thing, she seems to love it. I think she'll probably just use it to play games and to watch Dr. Who* on Netflix but there's hope that she might read a few books too along the way. And, yes, I've tried to convince her to get a Kindle or Nook instead but she seems bent on having me purchase one. I just hope that it has a longer support life expectancy than my iPad 1 did.

My oldest son, now a freshman at Oklahoma State University, wants a Microsoft Surface. He texts me about them on an almost daily basis and how the Surface is all the buzz at OSU. He also tells me that I should write about the fact that students there are all wanting one. I keep thinking that he should have gone to a better school. That and I just bought him a laptop before he went to college. Apparently, a lot of students are taking their tablets to class to take notes on or to do whatever. When I was in college, a lot of the students would bring their cassette recorders to class so that they could record the pearls of wisdom with the hopes of playing them back later. I was too busy paying attention and writing my own notes to bother with all that nonsense. But, whatever. I certainly don't want him to be the only one not being geeky in his classes. Be it far from me to prevent that.

Personally, I think they'd both be better served to do the following:

My daughter should take possession of my Acer One netbook that has Windows XP on it. She can play games, watch Netflix and have Microsoft Office on it for the rare occasion that she would do any real work on it. Additonally, it has a full keyboard and it cost under $300 when it was new.

My son should take my iPad 1. Hey, isn't everything retro cool now? Sure it is. Let's go with that. Plus, it's Apple. I mean, isn't that what kids at cool colleges are into?

Problem solved.

I presented this idea to both of them, separately. 

The response to both ideas was met with irritation and mild disgust that I would even think of such a thing.

So, my well thought out plan that would result in a lot of savings for me and cool (OK, sufficiently cool) technology for both of them. It was a win-win situation.

Besides, since I am the technology writer in the family. I should get the new stuff. However, I wouldn't buy an iPad mini for myself nor would I necessarily buy a Surface.

I think the mini is too expensive. I think the Surface is too expensive. And, yes, the regular iPad is/was too expensive too.

Both are way overpriced for what they are. You can buy a nice laptop for the price of the mini and two laptops for the price of the Surface. My wife sees their requests as easy Christmas gifts but I see them as a waste of my hard-earned money.

The bottom line, of course, is that it will be a very merry Christmas for both of them and a bleak one for dear old dad.

What's that? You want to know about the middle child? The red-headed, 6-feet two-inch, 225 lb. 16-year old wrestler middle child? Oh, he probably wants a gun or sword or another pair of cowboy boots or something. He doesn't care about technology. He'd rather have gas for his pickup than anything with a screen on it--unless it's a bug screen for the pickup. He hasn't told us what he wants yet but I'm sure he will. No one really seems to hold back in the "I want" department.

Alas, poor me. I guess I'll wait until next year to ask for what I want. This year's budget is blown. Thanks, Apple. Thanks, Microsoft. The least someone could do is send me a coupon or something.

*Yes, Dr. Who. And, she makes my wife and me watch it with her. She's hooked on it, thanks to the oldest son.

Topics: Apple, iPad, Microsoft, Tablets


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • A charming story

    I expect similar battles as my niece and nephews come for a pre-xmas visit.

    My efforts to steer them away from tech into sailing or models unsuccessful so far, but continuing.

    An iPhone for a 14 yo doesn't appear a solid investment.
    Richard Flude
    • How can a plus £130 smartphone be a good investment for a 14 year old?

      How often do they loose their keys/oyster card/ anything else you give them. Then theres the fact they break easily, fashions change and they're most likely to get mugged.

      Kids needing tablets and smartphones.., put it this way my first mobile came at 14. It cost £89.99 and i had to pay half with paper round money to get it. To be completely honest i think i was nearly a tenner short and was let off, but the spirit was there. It also wasn't the nokia i wanted with xpresson covers...

      I can't see any reason the kids wouldn't have the budget android devices... The premiums are just too high on the others.
    • My 10 yr old has an older iPhone

      Its costing me about $20/mo with her having my old iPhone. The cost of a regular line is $10/mo. So, for $10/month more she gets all the features of the phone. Plus, because it shares my account, she can't purchase anything unless she asks me, I can always find where her phone is using Find My iPhone, and when a new app is purchased, I can use it on my phone, her phone and our iPad.

      Its it a bit much for her? Probably. But she needed a phone regardless because of all her activities (and she's a girl, and daddy wants to always be a call away). So moving to the iPhone, making in a birthday gift, will cost me $120 more than a regular phone. I spent more on that for her bike last year.

      Of course there are restrictions, like not using it in school, not letting her friends use it, all that. But for less than the price of a iPad mini, she gets an iPhone 3.5" with 4G data, texting and voice.
      A Gray
  • A charming story

    I expect similar battles as my niece and nephews come for a pre-xmas visit.

    My efforts to steer them away from tech into sailing or models unsuccessful so far, but continuing.

    An iPhone for a 14 yo doesn't appear a solid investment.
    Richard Flude
    • Investment

      That depends on the 14 year old. Some are just careless, and wantonly destructive, others are careful, and responsible. Just like adults.
  • I think that is a fair assessment of who these devices appeal to

    The ipad is a toy and appeals to 11 year old girls who like cute toys. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are an 11 year old girl.

    The Surface is a tablet that appeals to people who have an interest in making logical choices, like a university student.

    I got the Surface.
    • Don't think the Uni-student is basing his want much on "logic", either.

      ..he already has a full-fledged laptop. Except for the odd situation where I'd be taking notes in an auditorium, I'm hard-pressed to think where any tablet would full that niche better than the laptop.

      Any time the conversation starts with "everyone is talking about how cool it would be...", you know that any decision will be 100% emotional or impulsive.
      • Perhaps you don't understand the situation

        A thin, light ultralight PC with great battery life and also a productive tablet beats a laptop ypu have to lug around with its charger as its bound to go flat at the worst times.

        Try using a Surface and the benefits are obvious.
        • Duke

          ...until the keypad cover breaks off...
          • ...until the keypad cover breaks off...

            Which is an accessory and totally replaceable. But so far, no widespread reports yet of that happening.
      • Surface is different

        I returned my Surface because I felt like I'd rather have a Lenovo Think pad Twist. Brought the ultrabook home and it had horrible battery life (3.5 hours). That's when I started to miss the Surface and traded back...

        All I can say is the surface is the first of a new type of device and I don't think anyone can truly have an opinion about it until you've used it for a couple of days. After that, most people are hooked unless you truly needed a full laptop to begin with....and I didn't. I have a desktop and work laptop. The Surface is a tablet that is just right for when I want to do some blogging on the couch or home productivity. I think it could be very practical for a student, especially for its size and battery life and ruggedness.
        • The MS surfactant..

          It might be OK technologically - in the hardware side of things.

          But it's still crap - it needs to have the OS wiped and Linux put on it.

          That is where the tech will either prove to be a failure or not.
          Wroger Wroger
    • Mr. Bottom, your avatar is showing

      If you are interested in having any credibility on this site, you might consider an avatar that does not pronounce, "Steve Jobs Was The Devil." Otherwise we're all on to the next one. Take the rest of the day off, you're excused.
      • There is absolutely no hope of him having any credibility here

        except with the biggest Apple haters and MS Fanboys but of course they have not credibility either.
    • Toy?

      LOL. That is so absurd I won't waste any more space addressing it!
      Max Peck
    • Surface

      I hope you like the Surface. I have seen way too many bad reviews to be interested. And I suspect you would find a LOT of people who have iPads who don't use them as toys.
      • "...people who have iPads who don't use them as toys": True, they are not

        toys when they're used as good doorstops. Or as decorative pieces in a closet.

    • You post shows Foolishness is not reserved for 11 years old girls.

      Hit any of the major companies with mobile apps and see how many support the Surface...Zero. Now see how many support that "toy" iPad. Wow, I guess major corporations just like toys better.

      Keep trying kid, maybe someday.
      • It connects with everything as well.

        Stereo receivers, car radios, remote controlled drones almost everything. You ever buy any home media anymore, almost always says works or syncs to Apple iPhone, iPad, or IPod Touch or Classic. I wonder why most of the electronic aftermarket doesn't think Apple sucks?
      • Try to engage your brain, and see if you can figure it out...

        but, I'll give you a hint:

        The surface tablet has been out for just a couple of weeks, which, is not enough for anybody on the planet to have had time and plans drawn up to put them to any kind of use. Give them time, and you'll start to see the surface tablets overtake, pretty quickly, whatever market share the iPads have in corporate environment.

        But, the tablet that most corporations will likely use more than any other, hasn't even come out yet, and it's not due to go to market until January. That's the regular Windows 8 tablet with "Intel Inside".

        Try to keep up.