Microsoft and Apple both released new tablets in June, offering two solid – and very different – choices for consumers.
Apple’s redesigned iPad Pro is reaching stores now and Microsoft launched sales of the 2017 Surface Pro earlier this month. Which is best for you? Read on.
10.5-inch iPad Pro
Apple has increased the screen size of its longstanding mainstream 9.7-inch iPad – which has been around since Steve Jobs announced the iPad in 2010 – by 20 percent without appreciably increasing the overall size or weight of the device.
That’s a nifty feat of engineering that should at least pique the interest of those looking to upgrade an older iPad: a 20 percent larger display means the on-screen keyboard is bigger (for easier typing) and content is bigger and better.
Like the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it also has quad speakers, which deliver remarkable sound considering the thinness of the design. Other notable new features include a laptop-fast A10X processor, 4GB of RAM, and flash-drive storage of 64GB in the cheapest base model.
Apple also sells an iPad Pro Smart Keyboard (sold separately for $159) but it falls short of turning the iPad Pro into a laptop. Apple’s iOS mobile operating system cannot match a full-fledged laptop OS like macOS or Windows 10 for productivity. Also, a trackpad is conspicuously absent.
The tablet is rated at up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‐Fi, watching video, or listening to music.
Bottom line: for a pure tablet experience, it doesn't get any better than the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
Price: starts at $649 for Wi-Fi only model and $779 for Wi-Fi + Cellular.
2017 Surface Pro
Just as Apple has nailed the pure tablet, Microsoft has perfected the tablet-laptop hybrid with the fifth-generation Surface Pro. Attach the excellent trackpad-equipped Type Cover keyboard (sold separately for $159.99) on the Surface Pro and you have a serious laptop replacement.
And the Surface Pro runs Windows 10, a desktop OS with a file manager. That means it can handle all the productivity stuff you can throw at it.
New for 2017 are a 7th Generation Intel Core "Kaby Lake" processor, a more flexible kickstand, and better battery life, rated at up to 13.5 hours video playback.
One small downside: the kickstand on the back means it's more awkward than a pure clamshell laptop when placing it on an uneven surface like your lap. (Microsoft’s pricier Surface Book solves that problem, however).
Bottom line: best tablet-laptop hybrid out there.
The Surface Pro 2017 with a 12.3-inch display starts at $799 with an Intel m3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and $999 with a faster Core i5 chip. A model with built-in cellular (in addition to the standard Wi-Fi) is planned for later this year.