Why I'm opting for the Surface Pro 4 over the iPad Pro

Discussion in 'iPad' started by roberticus70, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. roberticus70 macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2012
    I've been using macs since 1994 and own several macbooks, iphones, and ipads. I'm a diehard Apple fan.

    What follows is not meant as a criticism of other people's choices. As a large iPad, the iPad Pro is great. I wanted to share some thoughts about why I think the Surface Pro 4 is a better choice if your main purpose for the device is productivity rather than consumption.

    I've had the Surface Pro 4 for a week and have been very happy with it. I stopped by the Apple Store this morning to check out the iPad Pro, pencil, and keyboard--and I spent a good while testing them.

    Without question, it's a nice iPad, possibly the best. The pencil is terrific--magical even--and superior to that on the Surface P4. What about the rest of it? Can I get real work done on this more easily or pleasurably than I can on the SP4? No, I can't.

    After about 30 minutes with it, the reason became clear.

    The iPad Pro, along with every other iPad, is still constrained by Steve Job's vision for the device from 2010. It's meant for consumption, not production. Its primary uses are surfing, checking your email, and watching video--on the couch or in bed. That's it. Everything else--*everything*: peripherals, productivity apps, use of a stylus, etc--is an after thought that never feels quite as right on the iPad as do those original uses.

    I went to the Store this morning with an open mind: maybe at a much larger size, the iPad's onscreen keyboard will be more useful--making it a more portable and productive device than the Surface Pro on the subway, the plane, or the couch. It wasn't. I was just as prone to make errors typing as I am on the Air 2 or the mini.

    OK, I thought, well maybe the larger screen will make multi-tasking feel more comfortable, less cramped, more laptop-like. Yeah, not quite. It's still a massive compromise that feels just as limiting as it does on the Air, but now you see two or three paragraphs in each window instead of one. The point is, you can't easily move the windows, or open and rearrange them without thinking. In short, everything apart from consumption is a compromise.

    Put otherwise, the iPad wasn't meant to be a competitor to the SP4. It was meant to be the device in that original scene when Steve Jobs unveiled it sitting on that black leather lounge chair, surfing. The iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil are so obviously an attempt to respond to the SP4 that it's a bit depressing--as an Apple devotee of some 20 years--to see.

    If you want a bigger iPad for movies, email, and surfing, great. It's awesome. Maybe a bit pricey for the whole kit. But it's great.

    If you want to get real work done, want to 'replace your laptop,' it doesn't come close to the SP4.
    The keyboard is fine, but not anywhere near as nice as the one on new Surface Pro. And as nice as the pencil is, it's not nice enough to make up for the rest of it. If drawing or taking notes by hand is your *primary* purpose for the device, fine. Otherwise, it seems unavoidable: this is really just a big iPad. And for the foreseeable future, the iPad is primarily about consumption.
  2. nikster0029 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2010
    This is true. But I cannot handle the OS, which is the only thing keeping me away from it
  3. nylon macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2004
    iOS definitely will evolve to aid making the pro a more productive device. The problem with the awesome hardware that is the Surface is that it runs Windows. Windows has improved in its current iteration but the fact of the matter is that Apple's software is more elegant and user friendly. Windows is still a mish-mash of usability with respect to being a touch interface. All I can say is that competition between MS and Apple will continue to improve the products consumers have access to. Enjoy your surface.
  4. Lobwedgephil macrumors 601


    Apr 7, 2012
    I think the key you need to add, is that for you. For many people your opinion may be true, but many people will have the opposite be true for them as well.

    Having used both keyboards, I actually like the apple one better. The only thing the Surface one has is the trackpad, which is still basically unusable. You have to use a separate mouse if you have any hope of being productive on a surface.

    They are different devices for different needs, but don't assume your needs are the same as others, it will vary be person.
  5. masotime macrumors 68020


    Jun 24, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    So why choose the SP4 over the 12" MacBook or a 13" rMBP....?

    EDIT: for that matter, why choose SP4 over Surface Book?
  6. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    1. Surface Pen
    2. Price and portability (no ports on the screen part of Surface Book; have to carry keyboard half)
  7. klove4252 macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2015
    This is what I'm debating. I bought the iPad pro, and I don't think I can have the full experience until I get the keyboard and pencil. The surface seems great for productivity , but It really just seems like a touch screen laptop. I heard the apps aren't great and it's not very easy to type or use the tablet only mode.
  8. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    The biggest downside of the Surface line, and I have an SP3 that gets only occasional use these days, is the absolute void of any worthwhile apps in the App Store. There are 2 or 3 good ones. Rest is garbage. Desktop apps are hard to use with one's fingers and there are few good "tablet" style apps.

    Take Evernote for example. The "modern" Windows 10 tablet version is horrible. Missing many, many features that exist in the iPad/iPhone/Android versions. So I'm stuck using the desktop app. Fine for a mouse and keyboard... Awful for the fingers.

    If you're using the Surface as a laptop most of the time, then it's ok. If not, then you may feel the same frustration as I did.

    Unfortunately, there is not yet one ultimate Jesus computer.
  9. Sanlitun macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2014

    To a large extent I agree with you. Without a file system or a windowing OS it is very difficult to use it for productivity, despite its power. At best you can do some word processing and photo retouching, or maybe some "drawings" although in un-calibrated color.

    But I don't really think it's supposed to be a general productivity device, and I am not using mine in that way. I actually feel that putting a keyboard on it and doing comparisons to the Surface or Macbook would be missing the point, although those comparisons seem to be inevitable. I sort of see it as a powerful media and information coordination device. Where using the Air 2 was like looking through a keyhole and always felt like a substandard experience (something you used and compromised with when you were away from a computer), this is like looking through a window. It's just a much much better iPad.
  10. masotime macrumors 68020


    Jun 24, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Price and portability...? The MacBook is extremely portable, although I believe less powerful.

    However the OP doesn't sound like he needs the stylus from his post.
  11. masotime macrumors 68020


    Jun 24, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Yes, it seems like most people who prefer the surface really needed a laptop more than a tablet, which is why it suits them. For students, artists and visual designers I can understand the appeal of the surface Pen, but now with the Apple Pencil, all the iPad Pro really needs is apps....
  12. Rogifan macrumors Core


    Nov 14, 2011
    The Surface is a laptop. I'm not sure why people are comparing it to an iPad.
  13. Sym0 macrumors 6502


    Jun 6, 2013
    I didn't go for the pro either, mainly because it is no different to the Air 2, so I bought that. As for the surface pro I can't justify the full sized price for a toy sized netbook. I already have a Dell m3800 for multi-threaded and CUDA processing, and it will spank the surface to high heaven much like my former rMBP 15. And it's priced the same.

    IOS is only hampered by the fact it's geared towards consumption, until there is a universal file system and powerful processing software with I/o support for external devices its handicapped.
  14. Atomic Walrus, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

    Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

    Sep 24, 2012
    Honestly the Surface Pro is the perfect device for me in theory. I prefer full Windows over iOS, I've never opened its app store (it runs proper software), and I'm not even bothered about poking around the desktop UI get things done. The problem is that my practical usage for this device type is as a pure pen input tablet (don't even own a keyboard for the SP1).

    That means my decision comes down to pen input, and the SP3/4 are a step down even from SP1/2 in that area. So apparently Apple has built a device specifically for me: A big paper and pen simulator with a higher quality of pen input. I don't know if that's a good business strategy, but under the circumstances I don't really care. I wouldn't recommend it as a general computing to anyone over the SP4 though, unless they just wanted a consumption device with good battery life.
  15. silverblack, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

    silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    I agree with you here, but...

    iPad Pro was never intended to be sold as the only "computer" to someone. It is marketed to perform most tasks, for most people that use a laptop for:
    - web surfing
    - movies, music, light movie editing
    - emails
    - PDFs reading, editing (now better with Apple Pencil)
    - productivity with MS Office (better with pen)
    - viewing photos, light Photoshop (better with pen)
    - drawing, of course

    For everything else, is likely better done with a desktop. Of course someone will claim that there are certain important apps not available on the iPad that they must have on the go. But remember that Apple cater to the masses.
  16. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    It's clear to me that iOS on the iPad needs to become a priority for Apple if they are to revive iPad sales. At minimum, the iPad Pro and the next iPad Air should get additional features that enable developers and users to do more. Think of it as "iOS Pro."

    However, Tim Cook himself said that the iPad Pro could replace both a notebook and desktop for "many, many people." What you describe above is what "many, many people" do on notebooks. However, certain limitations of iOS (lack of a visible central file system, less support for peripherals) might prevent certain people from using the iPad Pro as a sole computer who otherwise would be able to do so.
  17. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    My question to most people making this argument - why do you want to replace your laptop? If your laptop is already perfect then why try to shoehorn a tablet into that segment?

    For me the iPad Pro is two things - one, a more relaxed computing experience (The "Steve Jobs sitting on a couch" scenario.) Two, a better tool for design and ideas - a large canvas for prototyping projects.

    I own a SP3 (Which I am now selling) and it can fill the "laptop and tablet" space...but my MBP is a better laptop (Mostly for hardware reasons, increased stability when actually using it on your lap), and my iPad is a better tablet (Mainly for software reasons, W10 is nice but apps just aren't as nice for touch as iOS.) If you want a single device for everything the SP4 is the way to go, but personally I'd rather have the separate experiences designed for those specific use cases.
  18. whodatrr macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2004
    That was more or less my feeling, after living with the SP3 for about a year. It's a pretty good tablet and a solid laptop too boot. The new typeover improves laptop capabilities considerably. For the past year, my MacBook Air and iPads have been largely replaced by my SP3.

    Having said that, I got a rMB about a month ago. Since then, my SP3 has been gathering a bit of dust. I also have a 27" iMac, which is my main workhorse. But for hitting the road and putting around the house, my rMB is now my favorite.

    SP4 wasn't enough of a bump over the SP3 for me, except for the keyboard. But I am looking forward to see what the SP5 brings.
  19. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    No contradiction here. "Many" and "Most" have very different meaning. Tim Cook probably thinks Apple sold many, many Apple Watches so far. But most people didn't have one.
  20. Pug72 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 18, 2012
    Horses for courses.

    I'm interested to know how often the touch screen is used on Surfaces with a trackpad available on the keyboard?

    If unused, a 'normal' laptop would fit the bill there, albeit a much better one for the same money.

    To me the Pro is defo for media consumption and cut down apps.
    Anything else, the grunt of a desktop or decent lappy is more apt.

    Nice to hear unbiased sounding posts though and if I wasn't massively invested in Apple tech connectivity.....the Surface Pro 4 might have appealed.
  21. macguy360 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2011
    No... it won't. Developers for IOS only care about one thing and that is reaching the most devices possible. That is why even when the latest iPad Air comes out, games are still not as graphically intensive as they could be so that people with older IOS devices can still play the latest and greatest games.

    Why would a developer spend their money and resources to cater to an audience that is a small small fraction of the total IOS community?

    Apps will continue to be designed with the regular iPad, mini and iPhone in mind. If you don't believe me read some reviews of new games that have come out and then been updated with decreased graphics to reach a larger audience.
  22. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    I would go to great lengths to avoid Windows, at all cost. But if Microsoft doesn't deliver their Office apps with inking in a month, or if I still can't get a hold of the Pencil by that time, I am returning my iPP and buying a Surface instead.
  23. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    How well touch-optimized is Office 2016 for Windows?
  24. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    Search "Microsoft Office iPad" in YouTube
  25. woozor1 macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2015
    ipad is firstly a tablet now adding functions to be able to be a productive device. the surface is a laptop trying to be a tablet. End of day it comes down to which category you need more. Id rather have an awesome tablet that is capable of doing productive tasks. Than the surface which is terrible to use as a tablet but is more suited in laptop mode.

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