“The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are less expensive than the iPad…”

I've been seeing this line the last few days on the major blogs (I believe it was part of a Windows VP's attack against Apple after their event on Tuesday):

“The a Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are less expensive than an iPad.”

You just can't say that. You can say that you like the Surface more than an iPad, but you can't say it is cheaper.

Trust me: if it was, I would own one right now instead of an Acer Iconia W3 tablet.

The Surace 2 starts at $449, but won't run your legacy Windows software, has a very small library of apps, and although starting with 32GB of memory, Windows RT takes nearly half of that. Granted, it is $50 less than a 16GB iPad Air, and it comes with Office. The iPad now comes with Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, GarageBand, and iPhoto. There is nothing wrong with the Windows RT experience (Windows RT/Metro works very well) but the environment beyond Microsoft Office is limited. And that Office is still very much desktop-minded, meaning that you'll need a keyboard to use it most effectively, adding another $129 to the price (I'd recommended the backlit type cover). iWork on the iPad is very usable on the iPad, as it was re-engineered for the tablet interface. You can use a keyboard on the iPad if you wish, but you don't need to. I prefer Keynote on the iPad to just about any other presentation software on any platform.

The Surface Pro 2 is another thing altogether. It is a “full computer” that is a tablet. However, when you get into true Windows 8.1 and legacy Windows programs, you need a keyboard and a mouse/trackpad. Windows 8.1 is usable without a keyboard, but usability and true functionality are different things. These are included on the type cover, which represents an additional expense. You're paying $899 for the bottom of the line Surface Pro 2 with 64 GB of memory and you need to buy the keyboard at $129. Suddenly, you're over $1000. You can buy the 64 GB iPad Air for $699 plus a Zaggfolio for $99 still leaving you under $800. Side note: that 64 GB Surface Pro will only have 40 GB available to use when you turn it on the first time.

Don't get me wrong; I'll support your choice, whatever that choice is. If you love Windows, fine. If you love Apple, or Google, fine. The price argument for premium devices has to be left behind for now. I think the Surface Pro 2 is an intriguing product, and if they were as inexpensive as other Windows-based products, I would own one. If Apple starts shipping an iPad Pro, I will probably buy one. And I would love to see Apple license and make a type cover for the iPad. That was a great idea on the part of Microsoft.

My concerns always come back to music education, and so many devices just don't fit into music education very well. As a widescreen device, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 don't handle sheet music well, and there is no Windows RT music reader on the market (my encouragement would be for Music Reader to do this, as they are the big player in digital sheet music on the Windows platform). You can get Music Reader for Windows 8.1 for $40 (basic) or $60 (pro).

This leads to another question: can those familiar with the iPad marketplace, used to paying $0.99 to $10.00 for most apps stand for the pricing tiers of Windows 8.1? When you start adding the price of software, the value of the iPad experience becomes even more clear.

As you can see, I don't think the Surface products are less expensive than iPads–not when you include accessories you have to buy for the Surface or additional software. Keep the total cost of ownership in mind.


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