So, I got a Surface, I’ve been using it for a while, so here are the deets…
Physically, it’s a nice device, the little stand at the back it actually very useful, and much, much better than the iPad case solution for the same problem. MS got this right. Overall build quality is not as nice as the iPad, it’s not as solid feeling.
The Surface has some useful stuff, a USB port, this is good, no required little adapter I’ll inevitably forget.
Overall, the Surface is a better physical device, it’s got features that I wish the iPad had.
Software - It gets a bit different here, email frequently crashes, it’s barely useable now, the web browser doesn’t crash since the last update, but it does go a bit ‘flaky’.
The calender can’t sync with Google, this is a biggie for me, Windows *Phone* can sync with Google, but the tablet can’t? Seriously, MS and Google need heads banging together.
Quality of apps on the iPad is better, not just the Apple supplied stuff, but 3rd party too.
Fundamentally, Apple took a phone OS and inflated it to a big screen, MS took a desktop OS and brought it down into a tablet. This really makes itself obvious in battery life, the Surface is bad, like, erm, really bad.
On the plus side, the Surface *should* be more powerful, in terms of apps, it’s a desktop OS after all, but only the Metro side of it, the traditional Windows Desktop is there (yeah I know, weird), but it can only run IE and Office, which just tells me they couldn’t get a Metro version of Office out the door in time (or at all).
More about Metro, it’s pretty, even very pretty, iOS 7 plays a good game, but for me, Metro still has the edge, it’s austere, well though out (for the most part), and easy on the eyes, I found iOS garish after using the Surface for a while, not ugly, but overwhelming colourful, too much for my tastes.
The main reason I don’t use the Surface much, is it’s basically out of battery power every time I reach for it.
The Surface is a good device if you can live with it’s limitations, I found it good in the kitchen, the little stand keeps it upright for following recipes and such. It’s a good effort, and it can keep up with the iPad in some respects, even better it with the flexibility of USB, but the software needs work, a lot of work. Battery life needs to be seriously looked at.
It tries to be a tablet and a laptop, and is not brilliant at being either, it’s an odd concept, that may suit some people, those people may need to keep a petrol generator close to hand.
Apple could learn from the hardware, the iPad is almost a sealed unit, the Surface is a bit more ‘open’, it’s not enough to make a real difference, but it’s something.
For an iPad replacement, no, it’s just not good enough. To replace a laptop? It depends, if you use a Macbook Air, then no, stick with that, it’s better in every respect, probably battery life included. If you just browse the web on an aging netbook, then maybe, just maybe, the Surface is good enough for you.