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Microsoft Surface vs. Apple iPad mini, in a nutshell

With the current influx of available tablets out there, we thought we would have a look at a few of the differences between the Microsoft Surface vs. Apple iPad mini. With both tablets competing side-by-side for sales in the run up for Christmas there is no doubt some people will be left wondering which would be the tablet for them. Here we highlight and compare a few of the features common to both.

Microsoft Surface RT — This is Microsoft’s first venture into the tablet market and although a little slow off the mark, they have certainly arrived on the scene with a serious contender. The external dimensions of the Surface are similar to a regular iPad and measures 10.81×6.77 with a 10.6-inch widescreen display. The OS used in the Surface is Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 designed to work on Arm Processors. Although it lacks certain features this should not be seen as a bad thing, the system is instinctive, fast and smooth and includes a version of Microsoft Office — Office 2013 Home and Student. It does not however include Windows Media Player.

The Tablet itself is available in only one finish, dark grey titanium and is made from a molten magnesium alloy known as VaporMG. There is an option to add a cover to the tablet, known as the Touch Cover, a rugged cover to protect the screen that also doubles as a touch sensitive keyboard. The touch cover is available in 5 colors, and is purchased separately at additional cost of $119 although there have been reported issues of the magnetic connection being so strong the cover itself is being torn on removal.

The limited apps currently available for the RT are only offered through the Windows store and are sadly lacking with a few obvious choices such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, although these will surely come with time and as more developers embrace the RT platform. The Surface features 2 cameras (forward and rear facing), Bluetooth, USB, and Wi-Fi and is available in 32GB or 64GB, and the battery has up to 8-hours life. While the Surface RT sits nearer to a laptop than a tablet in terms of the additional touch keyboard cover attached, it is certainly small enough to transport under the arm or easily in a satchel or side bag as with all other tablets.

The Surface has a starting price of $499 for the 32GB Tablet or $599 including a Black Touch Cover. The 64GB with cover retails at $699. The first video below this article shows a review of the Surface and asks if this new product is more of a laptop or tablet? The video also offers some comparison to the standard iPad as well as demonstrating the durability of the VaporMg casing. You might want to see how the Microsoft Surface RT and Surface Pro compare in our earlier article here.

iPad Mini – Apple’s smallest offering in the tablet arena is proof that size does not always matter. The new iPad mini is small enough to be held and carried in one hand and will easily fit in many different pockets (suits, lab coats, back pockets etc.) The external dimensions are 7.87×5.3 and features a 7.9 display with 163 pixels per inch, the iPad Mini has the same screen resolution as the iPad 2. However, there is already some speculation that Apple are working on a Mini 2 with retina display and could soon make the current Mini seem outdated as we recently witnessed with the iPad 3.

When comparing the Mini to a standard iPad the actual screen size isn’t that much smaller when you take into account the size of the bezels on the 2 models, which you can see in our review of the iPad mini sized next to the 10-inch iPad and iPhone 5. As with most Apple devices the iPad Mini runs iOS 6 and benefits from the vast array of apps available through the Apple store. The Mini features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2 cameras, and includes Apple’s Siri Voice Intelligent Assistant and is available in black/slate and white/silver with a 10-hour battery life.

Apple’s iPad mini is offered in a number of storage options including 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB with their Wi-Fi plus cellular model starting to ship now. A noticeable difference with the new iPad mini is the decrease in weight, making it ideal for long periods of gaming, more comfortable for bedtime reading and one-handed use. As with the Microsoft Surface, Apple do separately supply Smart covers which magnetically aligns with the mini and is available in 6 colors, these are priced at $39.

As with all Apple devices they are always priced in such a way that at first glance causes the eyebrows to be raised, but people still flock to buy. The starting price for a 16GB iPad mini is $329 with the 64GB retailing at $529. See the second video below for a review of the iPad mini with reference to standard iPad and the Apple Smart Cover.

Pros and Cons — as always issues exist with both tablets, the iPad mini is expensive compared to similar sized tablets, but the OS is proven and available apps far out way apps available for the Microsoft Surface. The iPad mini is lacking the highly praised retina display and runs the A5 chip that was featured in the iPad 2 not the new A6 chip, however the mini is extremely light, portable, and particularly striking but then the Surface with the Touch Cover attached admittedly looks very sleek. The built in kickstand is a great touch although on the RT system, full Microsoft Office suit is not available. The Surface is nowhere near as portable as the mini and apps are limited for the time being. Let us know your thoughts on the 2 tablets and what one would you’d opt for?

Written by Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman’s forte is certainly electronics and the latest gadgets, which he loves to deliver with his own take on the news from a perspective of following the latest gadget news for well over 30 years. You’ll see Matt focus on the latest televisions, digital cameras, and some of the more expensive gadgets. Keep connected to PR and Matt for some products you’d love to know more about, and dream about owning.



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