Comparing IPAD AIr and Surface 2, Which one you choose?

Last month was clearly a month for in-your-face tablet wars. While the leading brand in the space - Apple - announced a new name for their latest 'thinner, lighter, and more powerful' iPad - iPad Air, the underdog-in the space - Microsoft - started selling Surface 2 at Microsoft Stores and elsewhere, and far from all this, in Abu Dhabi, Nokia announced their first ever tablet device - Nokia Lumia 2520 - backing
Microsoft with the much, although unnecessarily, maligned Windows RT platform.

I use a first-generation Surface RT as my primary machine, and since I got it around the launch last year, my iPad 3 has been relegated to the closet. My work as a columnist and consultant needs each of the following five features, and that makes me pick the Surface 2 over iPad Air. Or Nokia Lumia 2520 now, maybe.


None of the Surface marketing campaigns is without the showcase of Microsoft Office. Not just a business use case, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are the go-to productivity apps for students, independent professionals, employees. An essential for business users, Microsoft also brought Outlook to Surface with the Windows 8.1 update that Surface 2 comes bundled with. Apple's iWork, or other alternatives on iOS, are only poor man's Office.


If there's one accessory that defines a product it is made for, it's the keyboard cover for Surface. Backlit, thin, and smartly designed for easy attach and disconnect, Type Cover and Touch Cover double up as a screen cover, shutting down display when closed to preserve battery life.

With a QWERTY keyboard, a full row of Function keys (F1-F12), Windows shortcut keys, media controls, and a trackpad, the Touch Cover and Type Cover marry the speed and comfort of a classic keyboard with super-thin, lightweight design. And it's available in many colors!


How do most people transfer files, or exchange quick files with friends and colleagues? No, not Dropbox or SkyDrive or any other similar cloud service. The answer is pen drives! All my files live on the cloud, but not everybody in my family and friends are all in on the cloud.

Also, the USB 3.0 port on Surface allows one to use older peripherals which use a transceiver (like the Microsoft Arc Keyboard that I use), external hard disks, charge a phone or gadget, or instantly transfer photos from a camera. The lack of USB port on iPad has been a forever crib for most.


Surface offers a microSD card slot, supporting up to 64GB of additional, swappable storage. Take that, iPad! You can move your traditional documents, pictures, and music folders to the microSD card for a seamless integration with the file system.


While I don't usually point to specifications in a debate, the front camera on iPad is a 1.2MP is a downer in front of the 3.5MP camera on Surface 2. For Skype calls and Lync meetings, that's a good edge to have.