Home What's Brewing? A Tablet World Series Double Header: New iPads and Surface 2 Tablets...

A Tablet World Series Double Header: New iPads and Surface 2 Tablets Share Same Day Debut

TabletWorldSeriesLike baseball’s old-timey Fall pageant, here comes another another classic.  Team Apple vs. team Microsoft find themselves once again this week in a Tablet Tuesday matchup. Not exactly a seven-game nail-biter since Apple’s more established line of veterans is pitching against a young upstart just past a raw, rookie year. Surface 2 only has one baserunner to beat this Tuesday and that is Surface 1. Like the the Xbox, the legendary Zune 2, and even Windows itself, Microsoft products get a lot better with age.

Windows 8.1 has breathed new life into the hardware, as has Internet Explorer 11, and there are far more apps to choose from now than when the Surface debuted.  ZDNet states, “Microsoft’s audacious ARM-powered tablet has something to prove. Indeed, the platform has improved dramatically in the past year.”

We won’t dissect all of the “inside baseball” stats here but the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 (with 72 graphics cores) under the hood is a major league fuel injection.  Front and back cameras are also both upgraded, with a 3.5MP front-facing camera and a 5MP camera on the back that can capture video at up to 1080p.

The Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 are now backlit which offers a very visible improvement in usability. Both use the same “click in” connector as their predecessors. USB 3.0 is now supported.

Is this the vaunted hybrid between the tablet and the desktop computer for the “Post-PC”era? No more so than any other tablet on the market today. That could be a swing and a miss for Redmond to some umpires.

While Redmond has a frivolous side and one of the world’s top gaming platforms, Microsoft’s truest legacy is getting down to business.  Unless Surface 2 was a hardball slugger, the best tablet on the market for workaday tasks and business productivity, anticipating the coming era when tablets and oversized phablets forever replace their desktop forbears, consumers will continue to think of their tablets more as media consumption devices and less as business tools.

Surface2Of course it depends on your needs, and your mileage will vary. Anil Dash, a longtime Windows user with experience on both platforms, claims that the Surface has “the best Skype client on the market along with the best Netflix.” “I tend to like Windows 8 tiles more on the tablet and phone than on the desktop”, said Dash on This Week in Tech.

Let’s be clear. Windows RT 8.1 can’t run any desktop apps. If the program you’re trying to use won’t run in Internet Explorer 11 or in an app available from the Windows Store, you’re out of luck.  Microsoft Office does come bundled in, but in the Surface version, they’re desktop apps, not Windows 8-style. The Verge opines that “if Microsoft would just build better, touch-friendly versions of the apps, it could ditch the barren desktop mode entirely.”  Facebook’s app for Windows 8.1 just arrived and works great on the Surface 2. Dropbox and Evernote? ZDNet calls them sad. Spotify and Rdio? Absent from roll call.

If this machine were running Windows 8.1 on an Intel Atom or x86 CPU, the desktop versions of all those programs would be available. But this is Windows RT, which means those programs aren’t a supported option.

winvsmacDavid Pierce of The Verge poses the baseline question.  “Since Office isn’t touch-optimized, you’ll still want a mouse and keyboard to really get work done on the Surface 2. And when you have a mouse and keyboard, why do you have a tablet? Microsoft might be able to make a lot of money selling an inexpensive, long-lasting device that is a killer Office machine — Microsoft’s version of the Chromebook, in a way. But the Surface 2 is not a killer Office machine.”

What that suggests to us is that any form of  “hybrid” is simply not an advantage in this business conversation, at least not for Microsoft.  Until it can manage to complete a full swing inside the batter’s box, one that aims for the back fences and a “grand slam” for business,  Surface 2 may have to settle for a “ground rule double. ” Good thing Microsoft’s team can play with a longer term strategy.  In the tablet lineup, they are batting as the “Comeback Kids!” [24×7]