iPad Pro iPad Pro 11" or Surface Go

Note taking best tablet?

  • iPad Pro 11

    Votes: 112 84.8%
  • Surface Go

    Votes: 20 15.2%

  • Total voters
    132
  • Poll closed .

spyder0109

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 26, 2012
18
1
Hi everyone,

I need a genuine non-fanboy advice. I am looking for a tablet just primarily for taking digital notes using digital pen - usual contenders are Surface Go 64GB with Pen or iPad Pro 11 with 2nd gen Pencil. For taking notes and categorizing them, I dont think anything come closer to Microsoft OneNote and so I'm inclined towards Surface Go but I want 3rd person's perspective.

My current viewpoint is as follows

Surface Go 64GB

Pros
  • Lot cheaper
  • Tighter integration with OneNote
  • As good writing experience as 2nd gen apple pencil
  • can search (text) through the notes taken using pencil (on OneNote)
Cons
  • Ugly as compared to iPad Pro 11
  • Thick bezels
iPad Pro 11

Pros
  • Better processor and iOS ecosystem (tablet apps)
  • Better screen (display quality)
  • Pencil charges easily
  • Looks sexier (Lighter and thinner)
Cons
  • Lot more expensive
  • OneNote maybe always behind in features as compared to Surface
Please advice and thanks a lot!
 

KUKitch

macrumors 6502
Jan 10, 2008
399
215
England
I think the iPad is going to be better than the surface, probably longevity-wise as well so perhaps worth some extra money out at the beginning, also you could perhaps try Notability or something for the iPad as it sounds like it does many of the things OneNote offers...
 

spyder0109

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 26, 2012
18
1
Guys one of the main question that would ease the decision making process would be the following

  • If I take notes on iPad Pro 11 using apple pencil on OneNote app, then does it detect words to enable search functionality through the search box?

Probably someone using iPad pro with pencil can confirm the above? This would be very very helpful.
 

LibbyLA

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2017
393
245
I have the Surface Go 128G and the iPP 11 256 G. One big thing that you did not mention is battery life. The iPad has a much longer battery life.

I use OneNote on both and they synchronize (along with OneNote on three other iPads, my Android phone, and two Android tablets). I haven’t tried word recognition with handwriting on either and I won’t be able to try it right now.

I love my Surface Go. I teach a Windows-only statistical programming language and having a small computer that runs it is great. However, for just toting something around my house and dealing with the internet, social media, etc., the iPad is my preferred device.
 

laestrella

macrumors member
Mar 9, 2012
30
14
I have the Surface Go 128G and the iPP 11 256 G. One big thing that you did not mention is battery life. The iPad has a much longer battery life.

I use OneNote on both and they synchronize (along with OneNote on three other iPads, my Android phone, and two Android tablets). I haven’t tried word recognition with handwriting on either and I won’t be able to try it right now.

I love my Surface Go. I teach a Windows-only statistical programming language and having a small computer that runs it is great. However, for just toting something around my house and dealing with the internet, social media, etc., the iPad is my preferred device.
Battery life was the reason that I returned my Go. Getting ready to take notes and finding that it was dead after not being used was frustrating to say the least. I just couldn’t rely on it for work.
 
  • Like
Reactions: haruhiko

jk1211

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2018
492
1,096
Surface Go competes with the low cost $329 iPad not an 11" Pro. Not close to the same category device in specs. The Surface Pro competes with the Pro iPads.

For notes the $329 iPad is competitive to the Surface Go; actually cheaper I believe.
 

mlemonds

macrumors 65816
Apr 9, 2008
1,009
108
Lexington, KY
Guys one of the main question that would ease the decision making process would be the following

  • If I take notes on iPad Pro 11 using apple pencil on OneNote app, then does it detect words to enable search functionality through the search box?

Probably someone using iPad pro with pencil can confirm the above? This would be very very helpful.
I have been using iPads with OneNote for a couple years and handwriting recognition works great
 
  • Like
Reactions: tromboneaholic

tromboneaholic

Suspended
Jun 9, 2004
3,710
2,925
Clearwater, FL
If you just want to take notes, the 2018 9.7 inch iPad with Pencil support is a good deal at $329.

B&H Photo, an Apple authorized seller, has it in space gray for $319, and Best Buy has an early Black Friday special on the 64 GB model.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sracer

laestrella

macrumors member
Mar 9, 2012
30
14
Guys one of the main question that would ease the decision making process would be the following

  • If I take notes on iPad Pro 11 using apple pencil on OneNote app, then does it detect words to enable search functionality through the search box?

Probably someone using iPad pro with pencil can confirm the above? This would be very very helpful.
It’s hit or miss on the iPad. Sometimes the recognition works on some notes and sometimes it doesn’t. I contacted the OneNote team about this in the past and I feel like they made updates that generally fixed it but I just did a test of some recent notes and some are not searchable. I love OneNote but I’m looking for alternatives since I began moving away from Surface devices. I only have my original SB left and it’s too big for a dedicated note taking device. I also subscribe to office 365 if that helps.

Also note that for me, even on the surface devices it takes some time for the OCR to kick in.
 

csjcsj

macrumors regular
Feb 15, 2011
121
54
Sarasota FL
It’s all in the feel - I’d recommend last year's iPad Pro. I was disappointed yesterday in the Apple store. The new iPP has a weird screen that makes the pencil feel rubbery like the Surface stylus. Left without one. Since you are taking notes, not drawing, your issues might not be as tactile as mine are. But nothing replaces trying them out
 

Macalway

macrumors 68030
Aug 7, 2013
2,718
1,093
I have the Go. It's cheap and nice. Not to mention, it's a regular laptop with cursor control, trackpad keyboards, and a separate charger input.

Very different, yet similar (sort of). I don't own the new iPads but have the 12.9 and 10.5.

iOS is very limited. It's good, but sort of 'under-evolved' at this point.
 

BeatCrazy

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2011
1,806
727
Hi everyone,

I need a genuine non-fanboy advice. I am looking for a tablet just primarily for taking digital notes using digital pen - usual contenders are Surface Go 64GB with Pen or iPad Pro 11 with 2nd gen Pencil. For taking notes and categorizing them, I dont think anything come closer to Microsoft OneNote and so I'm inclined towards Surface Go but I want 3rd person's perspective.

My current viewpoint is as follows

Surface Go 64GB

Pros
  • Lot cheaper
  • Tighter integration with OneNote
  • As good writing experience as 2nd gen apple pencil
  • can search (text) through the notes taken using pencil (on OneNote)
Cons
  • Ugly as compared to iPad Pro 11
  • Thick bezels
iPad Pro 11

Pros
  • Better processor and iOS ecosystem (tablet apps)
  • Better screen (display quality)
  • Pencil charges easily
  • Looks sexier (Lighter and thinner)
Cons
  • Lot more expensive
  • OneNote maybe always behind in features as compared to Surface
Please advice and thanks a lot!
I literally have both!

My 11" is the 256GB w/LTE and Apple Keyboard Folio.
My Go is the 128GB with Microsoft keyboard cover

I never use the Go in tablet mode, just as a "mini laptop". So it's good for legacy programs (SSH or other full-on legacy Windows apps) that I need to use once every few months. When the cover is closed, it feels really good. Solid, and I like the texture on the back of the Microsoft keyboard. It also unfolds into keyboard mode very intuitively. The kickstand is amazing.

The iPad Pro is just miles better at quickly consuming content. Doing a quick web search, watching a youtube video, etc. The screen seems significantly bigger. I don't know if it alls boils down to bezels or what, but they seem like a different size/class of devices. Mainly because iOS is better optimized to use all available real estate of the iPad, vs. a shrunk down version of the full Windows UI on the Go.

I'm still not 100% sold on the Apple Keyboard. It works as advertised, it just feels a bit more sloppy and cumbersome than I'd prefer. I supposed I'll get used to it.

Given your OneNote use-case, I still think you'd be better off with the iPad + OneNote + ApplePencil. This combo will be much faster for you to take a quick note, or easily view your existing ones. Remember the Go is a full-fledged computer, so it literally has to boot up (from Off) if you're going to do anything. That might take 20+ seconds, certainly twice as long as the iPad.
 
Last edited:

Macalway

macrumors 68030
Aug 7, 2013
2,718
1,093
Remember the Go is a full-fledged computer, so it literally has to boot up (from Off) if you're going to do anything. That might take 20+ seconds, certainly twice as long as the iPad.
Good point.
 
Last edited:

tromboneaholic

Suspended
Jun 9, 2004
3,710
2,925
Clearwater, FL
I literally have both!
Given your OneNote use-case, I still think you'd be better off with the iPad + OneNote + ApplePencil. This combo will be much faster for you to take a quick note, or easily view your existing ones.
This is a good point. I don't know how it works on the Pro, But on the 2018 iPad all you have to do is tap the lock screen with the Pencil, and it brings up the default Notes app. I don't know if another app like OneNote can be configured to do this however.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kazmac

flur

macrumors 68020
Nov 12, 2012
2,191
914
I can’t say much about the Surface Go, but I have a Surface Pro 4 and the new IPP, and I prefer the feel of writing on the SP4. It almost feels like your pen sinks into the screen as you write, which is a tactile thing, whereas writing on the iPad feels like writing on a screen. Strangely, I really like drawing on the iPad, but I prefer the note taking experience on the SP4. (This is without a screen protector. Obviously, with a protector YMMV)

That said, I’d seriously look at battery life - not what Microsoft claims the battery life is, but what people are actually getting. Because with the SP4, the difference was drastic.
 

aevan

macrumors 68040
Feb 5, 2015
3,108
3,974
Serbia
Hi everyone,

I need a genuine non-fanboy advice. I am looking for a tablet just primarily for taking digital notes using digital pen - usual contenders are Surface Go 64GB with Pen or iPad Pro 11 with 2nd gen Pencil. For taking notes and categorizing them, I dont think anything come closer to Microsoft OneNote and so I'm inclined towards Surface Go but I want 3rd person's perspective.

My current viewpoint is as follows

Surface Go 64GB

Pros
  • Lot cheaper
  • Tighter integration with OneNote
  • As good writing experience as 2nd gen apple pencil
  • can search (text) through the notes taken using pencil (on OneNote)
Cons
  • Ugly as compared to iPad Pro 11
  • Thick bezels
iPad Pro 11

Pros
  • Better processor and iOS ecosystem (tablet apps)
  • Better screen (display quality)
  • Pencil charges easily
  • Looks sexier (Lighter and thinner)
Cons
  • Lot more expensive
  • OneNote maybe always behind in features as compared to Surface
Please advice and thanks a lot!

I like Surface devices, but if you intend to primarily use it as a tablet and take notes (not use "full Windows features"), iPad is a nicer device. I also don't consider the writing experience on a Surface Go "as good as 2nd gen Apple Pencil". It depends on your sensitivity, but nothing beats the Apple Pencil.

However, since you'll be writing a lot, I recommend two things:

- A 25% matte screen protector. Not for protection, but to get a nicer, paper-like feeling when writing/drawing. I just pre-ordered this: https://paperlike.com
Didn't use this brand before, but I did use a matte screen protector and really liked the feel.

- Use Notability instead of OneNote. While OneNote works really well on an iPad Pro, Notability is such a well designed app built for taking hand-written notes. I really like it, so check it out.
https://www.gingerlabs.com
 
  • Like
Reactions: sracer

spyder0109

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 26, 2012
18
1
Why not the 2018 iPad and Apple Pencil?
Although I have a 12.9 iPad Pro, and other tablets and 2-in-1s, I find the 2018 iPad to be a terrific digital notebook.
I found the second gen pencil to be lot better and so the consideration of iPad Pro 11'
[doublepost=1541938011][/doublepost]
I have the Go. It's cheap and nice. Not to mention, it's a regular laptop with cursor control, trackpad keyboards, and a separate charger input.

Very different, yet similar (sort of). I don't own the new iPads but have the 12.9 and 10.5.

iOS is very limited. It's good, but sort of 'under-evolved' at this point.
I have a full-blown tb Macbook pro and a windows-based machine. This iPad will be carried with one of them along, so probably I am not looking for full-OS functionality but cheaper but better device.

Stated by someone else in the thread, I found the battery life to be a compelling reason now consider iPad.
[doublepost=1541938153][/doublepost]
I like Surface devices, but if you intend to primarily use it as a tablet and take notes (not use "full Windows features"), iPad is a nicer device. I also don't consider the writing experience on a Surface Go "as good as 2nd gen Apple Pencil". It depends on your sensitivity, but nothing beats the Apple Pencil.

However, since you'll be writing a lot, I recommend two things:

- A 25% matte screen protector. Not for protection, but to get a nicer, paper-like feeling when writing/drawing. I just pre-ordered this: https://paperlike.com
Didn't use this brand before, but I did use a matte screen protector and really liked the feel.

- Use Notability instead of OneNote. While OneNote works really well on an iPad Pro, Notability is such a well designed app built for taking hand-written notes. I really like it, so check it out.
https://www.gingerlabs.com
Thanks for the advice. I am based in Singapore, so let me look if paperlike delivers them here but this sounds pretty good thing to invest on.

I'll see videos of Notability and check if it has a online-version as well. I plan to access those notes taken from iPad on my office-network over a browser. So, online access would be a requirement as well.
 

jclardy

macrumors 68040
Oct 6, 2008
3,394
1,943
The iPad has more power than it knows what to do with, there is no lag at all, no stutters, nothing. The Surface Go is woefully underpowered for its software. It should handle note taking just fine though.
 

aevan

macrumors 68040
Feb 5, 2015
3,108
3,974
Serbia
I found the second gen pencil to be lot better and so the consideration of iPad Pro 11'
[doublepost=1541938011][/doublepost]

I have a full-blown tb Macbook pro and a windows-based machine. This iPad will be carried with one of them along, so probably I am not looking for full-OS functionality but cheaper but better device.

Stated by someone else in the thread, I found the battery life to be a compelling reason now consider iPad.
[doublepost=1541938153][/doublepost]

Thanks for the advice. I am based in Singapore, so let me look if paperlike delivers them here but this sounds pretty good thing to invest on.

I'll see videos of Notability and check if it has a online-version as well. I plan to access those notes taken from iPad on my office-network over a browser. So, online access would be a requirement as well.
Sadly, no - only Mac and iOS, as it uses iCloud to sync. However - you CAN set an auto-backup feature which saves all your notes as easily accessible PDF files on Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. So you can still read them online.

But there are other alternatives and, as I said, OneNote works great (my only gripe with it is that they haven’t implemented Drag & Drop yet, but otherwise it is fully featured).
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
577
Just got a Surface Go (I would strongly recommend the 128GB SSD version with 8 GB RAM over the 64 GB one) for my daughter yesterday and compared to my iPPD gen 2. To me it is unusable as a tablet! The pencil feels nice in the hand but the display not nearly as good as the iPad displays. If you write something and made it larger it gets very pixelated compared to the iPad.

The Go is a perfect device to do some basic jobs on the road with the keyboard and trackpad! Another nice option is to connect a big display in extended mode (not mirrored like the iPad) and work that way like with a "real" desktop. You can also connect an USB-C dock with 10 interfaces to connect everything you need. That reminds me about my biggest wish that a had for the iPad and IOS......
 
  • Like
Reactions: IowaLynn