iPad Air vs. Microsoft's Surface Go: Which Is a Better Laptop Replacement?

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Apple's iPad Air, which was resurrected in March as essentially a tweaked version of the previous 10.5-inch iPad Pro, offers a significant amount of utility at a solid $499 price point, but how does it compare to other competitors in the market?

In his latest video, MacRumors videographer Dan compared the iPad Air to Microsoft's Surface Go to determine which one he liked better for on-the-go computing.


For this comparison, Dan decided to focus on using the iPad Air and the Surface Go as somewhat of a laptop replacement. The iPad Air starts at $499 while the Surface Go comes in at a $399 base price, but in an effort to look at these as potential laptop replacements Dan opted to consider the devices equipped with first-party keyboard accessories, which pushes the iPad Air up to $659 and the Surface Go to $529.

In his video, Dan shares his impressions on the design and features of each, including important productivity accessories like respective keyboards and styluses.

As potential laptop replacements, performance is really where the rubber meets the road, and Dan came away somewhat unimpressed with the Surface Go. He wanted to like its relatively full-fledged Windows 10 operating system, and it was fine for basic tasks like emails, web browsing, and document writing, but he found things bogging down a bit when trying to multitask.

With the iPad Air, you don't really get a desktop-class operating system, at least for now, but it generally works very well when you need to multitask, switching easily among Safari, Messages, Notes, Mail, iWork and more with no performance issues. And with iPadOS 13 coming later this year, the iPad will become even more powerful.

So where do we come down on the iPad Air versus the Surface Go? It's a challenging comparison considering they have some significant spec differences and everyone's use case is different. Overall, Dan found the iPad Air to offer a more enjoyable user experience, although it's not quite a laptop replacement. But neither is the Surface Go in his experience, and he wonders whether it isn't better to just point someone toward a Chromebook or more traditional Windows notebook if they're looking for a cheap laptop experience.

Article Link: iPad Air vs. Microsoft's Surface Go: Which Is a Better Laptop Replacement?
 

Robnsn2015

macrumors 6502
Jul 12, 2015
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with the introduction of iOS 13 it is non sense to choose a surface most especially the GO

it is very slow, crashes many times and lags many times

not to mention the little difference it offers in terms of price.

i would rather get a snappy chromebook than a lagging surface go.
I'd take a Chromebook for laptop tasks than an iPad.

But I guess it depends on the apps they need to run. The Surface Go is slow, but has the widest range of desktop apps that businesses tend to use.
 

JGIGS

macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2008
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CANADA!
The iPad Air is the superior tablet.

The Surface Go is the superior (albeit slow) laptop replacement.

I recommend waiting until the fall (around September/October) to see if there is a second generation of Surface Go.
Bang on. If iPads, especially the pro models, get ever get back lit keyboards with true track pad support, not this assisted mouse support stuff, it would be a bona fide laptop replacement and make me a very happy person. For me not having that and reaching up to screen all the time just doesn't feel ergonomically sound.

I think for artist with an apple pencil it might already be a good laptop replacement but that's not how use a computer. Probably going to return my ipad pro for the new MBP which makes me a bit sad but it's still just better ergonomically.
 
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JGIGS

macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2008
1,164
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CANADA!
with the introduction of iOS 13 it is non sense to choose a surface most especially the GO

it is very slow, crashes many times and lags many times

not to mention the little difference it offers in terms of price.

i would rather get a snappy chromebook than a lagging surface go.
It's the I pad air hands down
True track pad/mouse support is till a pretty big deal to a lot of us and that didn't happen in ipad os.
 
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magicschoolbus

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2014
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Neither. iPad Pro 11" + keyboard is the future.
iPad Pro 11 Gen 2 will hopefully introduce multipule USB C ports.

iPad 11 is the secret sauce. when people say I want an A series macbook pro - just wait. Ipads are getting there. I firmly believe you will be able to one day attach a keyboard to an iPad and begin to run Mac OSX.. when its disconnected, you're back into iOS.
 

Boulder

macrumors member
Jul 27, 2011
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No tablet is a replacement for a laptop at this moment. The iPad Pro has the hardware down, but lacks widely used applications used in the professional world. If Apple were to get programs like Stata or proper Photoshop on the App Store, the iPad could be a proper replacement. The Surface Go’s advantage is that it runs a desktop OS, but unlike its more expensive cousins it is a slow and frustrating experience. Laptops are here to stay until a company can come up with a tablet that has the both the hardware and a proper tablet focused OS with professional applications.
 

NickName99

macrumors 6502
Nov 8, 2018
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Apple should just make their own Surface Pro, it could use an Apple CPU and boot into either iOS or Mac OS X. It would be so much faster than anything Intel makes for a fanless form factor.
 
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Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
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I don't think of any iPad as a serious person's laptop replacement... but at work we've been through many iterations of Microsoft Surface devices, and they all suck in various ways. Even when the hardware itself is okay, the drivers are often wonky - which is surprising since it's Microsoft's own hardware.

If you want a Windows laptop there are much better options than anything with Microsoft's name on it.

Of course I'm partial to Macs, but there's no accounting for taste. :D
 

mi7chy

macrumors 603
Oct 24, 2014
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The fact that the Surface can DFU restore a bricked iPad and not vice versa makes the iPad the lesser device. iPad is a blown up iPod with the same limitations while the Surface Go is a shrunken laptop but with the same versatility. Neither would be my first choice but if I was forced to choose one I'd take versatility over blown up limitations. What's holding back the Surface Go though is choice of crappy Intel CPU with weak iGPU. Would like to see AMD APU in the 2nd gen Surface Go.
 
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Macpro2019

macrumors regular
Jun 7, 2019
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The iPad Air is the superior tablet.

The Surface Go is the superior (albeit slow) laptop replacement.

I recommend waiting until the fall (around September/October) to see if there is a second generation of Surface Go.
Thank you for your personal opinion.
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
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I have both and use them both packed together in a small leather bag. The iPad is used mostly as a tablet and the Go as a small laptop for system support and maintenance. Beside the vast amount of Windows tools available the possibility to connect an extended display with full mouse support is the biggest plus. Besides this the love always goes to my iPP 12.9 (2. Gen.).....
 

supertiffany

macrumors member
Apr 4, 2019
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Apple should just make their own Surface Pro, it could use an Apple CPU and boot into either iOS or Mac OS X. It would be so much faster than anything Intel makes for a fanless form factor.
they already have it but it might cannibalize their current macbook pro and ipad pro
 

BD1

macrumors 6502
Jun 27, 2007
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Will ios13 mouse support also mean that an external keyboard can have a trackpad for the iPad?
 

Icaras

macrumors 603
Mar 18, 2008
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California, United States
I understand having the trackpad below the keyboard for a laptop, but why does MS insist of keeping that design for a tablet keyboard? It's not like there's any batteries taking up space in those areas around the trackpad. Makes no sense to me. Because of this, Apple's Smart Keyboard's low profile wins aesthetics hands down.
 
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