Last week Apple unveiled its new tablet lineup and introduced the iPad Air 2. The Apple iPad is still the de facto leader of the tablet market, but it's now only marginally compelling in a market saturated with a wide variety of alternative devices. The Surface Pro 3, on the other hand, includes some unique features and capabilities that make a persuasive case for why it should be the tablet you purchase.
Don't get me wrong — I'm a huge fan of the iPad, and I love my iPad Air. That said, since I began using a Surface Pro 3, I've found that my iPad is getting less use — and if I already owned the Surface Pro 3, I'm not sure I would have invested the money in the iPad Air. Frankly, it's a bit redundant.
Microsoft has a whole campaign of ads pitting the Surface Pro 3 against the iPad, plus ads that put Cortana head-to-head with Siri. Last week, Microsoft launched a new commercial on the web that illustrates why the Surface Pro 3 is such an awesome device, without comparing it directly to any competing or rival tablet.
I still disagree with focusing attention on the Surface Pro 3 as a tablet. In my opinion, Microsoft should be marketing the Surface Pro 3 as the most versatile Windows PC — with its tablet form factor being one of the features — as opposed to marketing it as a tablet that can also run Windows and the full desktop Microsoft Office suite. However, as long as Microsoft and the rest of the world insist on looking at the Surface Pro 3 first and foremost as a tablet, and pitting it directly against devices like the iPad Air 2, here are three reasons you should invest your money in a Surface Pro 3 if you're in the market for a new tablet.
1. It's a PC
Have I mentioned that it's a PC? This means that it runs the full Windows operating system and all of your traditional Windows software. Functionally, it's no different than any other Windows desktop or laptop PC. It just happens to be a PC that is also a tablet, one that has touch-enabled apps like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and Kindle, so it fills most of the same reasons why you might typically use a device like an iPad.
The Surface Pro 3 has a built-in multi-position kickstand. It also has connectivity options that enable you to expand its capabilities — USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader. You can connect the Surface Pro 3 to an external monitor or add additional storage through a microSD card or USB hard drive. Ultimately, any device you can connect via USB to a Windows desktop or laptop PC can be connected to a Surface Pro 3.
3. Surface Pen
The Surface Pen gives you a simple, intuitive way to work with the Surface Pro 3 without a traditional keyboard and mouse. The Surface Pen can act as a mouse-alternative, with buttons for left and right-clicking. You can select and drag items, and you can draw or write on the glass display. This enables you to mark up documents and photos or take handwritten notes. The purple button on the end of the Surface Pen allows you to instantly open OneNote (even when the device is locked) or capture screenshots.
There's no 16 GB Surface Pro 3, so you have to look at the 64 GB models if you want a somewhat even cost comparison. The 64 GB iPad Air 2 is $599, while a 64 GB Surface Pro 3 — with an Intel Core i3 processor — costs $799. You have to look beyond that basic price comparison, though. If you buy an iPad Air 2, you'll also most likely still want or need a PC, so you'll have to make an additional investment in a computer. However, if you buy a Surface Pro 3, there's a good chance you won't need an additional computer. Therefore, $799 for a Surface Pro 3 will most likely cost less in the long run.
Do you think the Surface Pro 3 is a better device that the iPad Air 2? Why or why not? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Tony Bradley is a principal analyst with Bradley Strategy Group. He is a respected authority on technology, and information security. He writes regularly for Forbes, and PCWorld, and contributes to a wide variety of online and print media outlets. He has authored or co-authored a number of books, including Unified Communications for Dummies, Essential Computer Security, and PCI Compliance.