Tablets iPad + Windows laptop or Surface Pro 3?

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by Bromio, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. Bromio macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2014

    When I had already decided that I'm going to buy the next generation iPad Air and later a Windows laptop, I have seen a Surface Pro 3 in a store, and doubts have appeared.

    I was thinking of acquiring both an iPad and a Windows laptop to give them these uses:

    iPad (Air 2) Cellular
    -> Reading eBooks, epubs mainly (through iBooks and Kindle app).
    -> Reading big PDFs, scientific articles and documents with a lot of graphics and even scanned pages (~100 or 200 MB and hundreds of pages). Annotating them would be extremely interesting.
    -> Reading comics.
    -> Surfing the Web, reading e-mails, calendar and Twitter...
    -> Editing documents and presentations created in my Mac or in my future laptop (with Microsoft Word/Powerpoint or Pages/Keynote).
    -> Other common tablet activities, such as photos or videos. This would be a very little percentage of my use with the tablet.

    Windows laptop (it must use Windows because of job issues).
    -> Writing documents in LaTeX.
    -> Writing documents in Word and presentations in PowerPoint.
    -> Launching simulations in MATLAB.
    -> Programming (in MATLAB, Python, C/C++, Java...)

    In addition, I must say that I own a iMac which would be my main computer when I am at home.

    Due to the mobility I need (at work I don't have wireless access), I guess I should use a USB modem to connect the Surface Pro 3. I'm not sure if this is a pain.

    So, what do you think? Should I buy a Surface Pro 3 or an iPad + Windows laptop? I can't decide because I've never owned one of them.

    Thank you!
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    You seem to have two very different set of needs.
    The iPad you've defined it with more personal type activities and not work and the SP3, the opposite, you'll be using it for work and not play.
  3. Bromio, Sep 6, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014

    Bromio thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2014
    But can't the SP3 be a replace for those iPad activities?

    I'd want to know if SP3 could supply both personal and job necessities.

    Thank you.

    PS: Or are you compelling me to buy both iPad and SP3?
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    yes it can, but you didnt define it that way in your post ;)

    Yes, it will work fine in both capacities.

    I'm just pointing out what you wrote, I'm not recommending one thing or the other. I think both products are excellent at what they do, and its up to you to decide which tool best fits your needs.
  5. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    This might help you a bit...

    Freda+ is my favorite ebook reader on Windows Phone, they also have a Windows version. More on that here: There's also the usual Kindle app, but you can also use their Cloud Reader offline via Internet Explorer.

    Should be able to edit PDFs out of the box.

    There are a few CBR readers in the store too.

    Everything else should be fine.

    If you're going to be next to another computer that's online, a simple ethernet cable that you can just leave at the back so you don't have to carry it around, and a ethernet adapter should work.
  6. Bromio thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2014
    The point is I certainly can't know which tool best fits my needs without working with them previously. The only thing I know is what I've read in reviews and seen in stores. Both devices seem to be marvelous.

    However, if the iPad is a better tablet than the SP3 in its tablet facet, I would prefer the iPad. If not, I would prefer a SP3, if it is a perfect replace for a normal Windows PC.

  7. spinedoc77 macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2009
    The iPad being a better tablet is very subjective, it depends how you use it. It's smaller form factor, light weight and better battery life make it a "better" tablet if you have to carry it and use it away from a charger for long periods. On the other side if you value a larger screen, the ability to use full windows desktop programs, the kickstand, always having a keyboard, etc. then the surface pro may be a "better" tablet. It's just so subjective based on how you use it. The added benefit, as you pointed out, is that it can replace BOTH your laptop and iPad with ease.

    In the case of your required list of apps and programs the SP3 can take over all of those functions, every single one of them. So if that appeals to you then you should consider it.
  8. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    You can get a dock for the SP3 that you place the device in, and you have a full desktop computer (with Ethernet port, monitor, mouse, keyboard, external drive, etc). Might be better than a USB dongle wifi device if you plan on using it regularly at work.

    Personally, for the needs you described, it sounds like having a proper file system to organize and access all those files might be beneficial. Having everything you need on a single device that can do anything and everything you would need it to do is certainly a massive advantage.

    The SP3 isn't as light as the iPad, and I don't believe there is a cellular model, so you may need to tether to your phone or use wifi when you're out and about.

    It's a tricky call as everyone will tell you something different. If it were me, I'd get the SP3 as I know it will do anything I want all on one device. If you think you'll use the tablet mode more than laptop mode, then perhaps an iPad + laptop is the way to go.

    While you can do lots on the iPad, the limitations on things like multi-tasking and reloading tabs/apps can be cumbersome. For many tasks, you have to take extra steps to get them done.
  9. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    I own an iPad, windows netbook, windows Ultrabook, windows laptop, and 11" MacBook Air... And owned a surface rt & surface 2 for about 9 months. I offer that as background to my experiences and observations.

    The Surface rt/2 hardware was excellent and the Surface Pro 3 even better. I think that the SP3 would make a fine Ultrabook. The touchpad on the typecover3 (which I've tried various times at the Microsft store) still is not on par with high quality touchpads on Ultrabooks... The best being on the MBA IMO.

    The aspect ratio of the SP3 is great, and using it as a digital notepad/notebook would work out extremely well.

    Where the SP3 falls short, IMO, is in system stability and availability of touch-optimized apps. Since SP3 runs windows, it has frequent updates, and occasional update snafus. That's to be expected on an Ultrabook, but not so on a tablet.

    I wouldn't necessarily suggest that you write-off the SP3, but to browse the Windows App Store and look at what is available and compare that to what you'd want to do with your device. If you have access to a Windows 8 system of any kind, you can kick the tires on some of those apps to see how suitable they would be (of course in a non-tablet setting).

    In the end, for me, I replaced my Surface 2 with the 11" MBA. It fit better with my workflow and file exchange with my iMac.

    I have Office 365 and have found the iPad versions to be quite enjoyable to use, and with AnyFont, my Word/Excel/PowerPoint documents look the same on all my devices.

    In any event, do your "homework", know what to expect, and whatever you end up with will be fine.
  10. Bromio thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2014
    Thank you for your answers.

    I have come to a conclusion: both choices, iPad + Windows laptop and Surface Pro 3, are excellent choices, so I won't fail. However, it seems the Surface is more an ultra book that might be a tablet than a tablet which behaves like a laptop.

    Nowadays an iPad could fulfill all my tablet necessities, even better than the Surface Pro 3, because mobility is one of the most important facts that I am looking (I wish it had LTE). I guess within a year, perhaps two years, I will need an ultra book (my current laptop is 15.6" and a little bit old), and then buying a Surface Pro 3 (or 4 or 5 or who knows what!) should be more suitable.

    As you have shown me, both devices are fantastic, and they are not exclusive.

    Wouldn't be a Surface Pro excellent for reading PDFs at my job, annotate them, in my desk, and produce documents and later consume with my iPad, in my couch or when I'm out?

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