Why a “cheap” Surface won’t kill the iPad, Chromebooks

One of the pivotal reasons why I recommend an iPad as my first choice for people, even the almost-tech-savvy, is because the experience of using it compared to a laptop. Schools may be asking themselves the same.

Last month it was reported that Microsoft may push a cheap Surface Laptop to try get into the tablet market that already showed that no one can beat the iPad, and only Chromebooks may stance a chance.

And that’s the problem. Microsoft is again coming late, at the same pace like the Windows Phone initiative.

The iPad, compared to a cheap notebook, nails down the basic computing you could expect from a small and portable device. Most people do basic stuff on their computers, from writing and reading to searching, and that’s all required for a classroom. Unless you have a very narrowed down necessity that only Windows 10 can provide, you are pretty much going for an iPad or a Chromebook.

Some scenarios of “I need a cheap Windows laptop” are:

  • You have software that only runs on Windows 10.
  • You work with files, like photos, documents, and external files.
  • You need a physical keyboard because you type a lot.

Then that’s it. There is not much to add to the discussion whether you need an iPad/Chromebook, but rather why the average user would want a cheap Windows notebook considering the huge compromises these devices do for lower prices.

And that’s why a “Cheap Surface” won’t gain any track. But you came here for the larger explanation, didn’t you?

The iPad Battery is second to none.

Battery life is pivotal for a mobile device. The iPad promises enough juice for most of the day (if you use it even aggressively) and it delivers. This makes the experience of using the iPad to the user better for a psychological and mobility standpoints:

  • You don’t have to worry about how much time you have to keep using the device.
  • You don’t need to recharge every time you want to use it, thus, looking for a place with wall plugs.

In comparison, cheap laptops comes with abysmal battery life. And even when these pack a huge battery, performance wise the are lacklusting or unbalanced.

Apps. A lot of them.

Lost are the days of writing a URL to do something. As of today, the Apps have become the de-facto landing point in mobile devices rather than webpages, for a lot of reasons, but mainly it allows the user to use the product with one tap, and the company can use the data collected by the app to better serve the company and user needs — sounds evil but it’s the truth on non european countries.

The App Store in iOS is more complete, with less cheap knock-offs, and it has apps for everything, and Google Play Store comes seconds. Microsoft Store pales in comparison. You can find fake apps that may collect even sensitive data by posing as simple browser enclosure to a fixed web page, thanks to the lack of official apps, especially the Google ones. Basically, there is no control.

Microsoft is almost obligated to put resources on making their versions of official apps if it wants to have a chance.

Again, buying an app for iPad or Chromebook will allow the potential iPhone or Android buyer to translate almost all of the apps to their phone, so it’s a win-win scenario. You can’t say the same for Windows Phones.

Already has 4G/LTE

Exactly how Microsoft plans to have an Intel machine always connected remains to be seen. It’s known that Qualcomm likes to charge more for their modem rather than the whole Snapdragon SoC, and Intel modems are being eaten by Apple these days. An AMD CPU with Qualcomm may be possible, though, but given the volume Intel has with its ships it doesn’t seems plausible.

In the meantime, cellular versions of the iPad cost USD$ 130 more compared to a WiFi only model, but they’re available now. In schools this is totally unnecessary, though.

The best “cheap” Pencil

The Apple Pencil is costly has hell, but justified: Apple has no competition in the tablet-with-pencil market for sow a low price, and the Apple logo adds up to the premium value of the accessory.

The basic package consisting in an iPad 32GB Wifi with the pencil can come as USD$ 429. The cheapest Wacom with screen and pencil support is the Wacom Cintiq Pro 13, at USD$ 999, and it’s only 1080p (HD).

For that price there is no competitor, hands down.

In Windows, there are not cheap tablets below these prices with a really good pencil support and broad selection of good apps that are compatible.

In Windows you are bound to professional apps, which are costly, or a very humble selection of apps from the Microsoft Store. Devices with pencils come with a premium, and those who not come with compromises like battery life, low performance, pencil quality or a killing-deal TN screen panel that is a no-go for anyone expecting to live in 2018.

iPad remains a tablet 100% of the time

While you may get a full computer with the “Cheap” Surface, even at USD$ 399 as rumored, Windows 10 is still miles away from what iOS offers as whole experience.

Windows is still full of W32 software inside its own, which are touch unfriendly. Add to that software that vendors use for their devices and software, which are not UWP, and they cannot be installed as an App unless they’re published within the Microsoft Store.

Also, stability issues on Windows can harm the experience by a lot. Let alone Windows Updates which likes to come every (bad) time.

How it can kill the iPad?

If by some miracle Microsoft thinks it can kill the iPad, which is the juggernaut in the mobile area, we are looking about making quite the contrary of what I pointed before:

A Windows 10 tablet with a decent Windows Pencil, running a polished version of Windows 10 S. Apps would be enforced by strict Microsoft Store guidelines (UWP / Progressive Apps only), but full of Microsoft made official apps.

On the hardware side, a x86 low power processor with a big battery. A 1080p screen IPS should suffice, considering the lower cost and availability of IPS panels.

All of this should come USD$ 399 or lower. Not a buck more than that.

If this is not what the cheap surface comes up to, then don’t wonder why people will keep recommending the iPad or a Chromebook above all else.

Graphic Designer graduate. Full Stack Web Developer. Retired Tech & Gaming Editor.

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