But not quite there yet. Microsoft’s Surface 2, selling for $449, is a much needed hardware and software improvement over its predecessor. However, it’s still in an awkward limbo between a tablet and a PC. On one hand, it wants to be a tablet because it runs RT, the diet version of Windows 8.1, but it’s app selection is still very limited. On the other, it continues to call itself a PC, but still doesn’t run full Windows 8.1 software.
The tablet competition is simply too strong for the Surface at the moment, mostly because of app selection. There are some popular apps, such as Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and app developers are making RT versions of other popular apps. But the process is very, very slow, which is a testament to why Microsoft should have gotten into the tablet game much earlier. You can use Internet Explorer (IE) to watch YouTube videos (because there isn’t a YouTube app yet), but that’s the PC way of doing things.
The Surface 2 works more like a PC since RT continues to look almost identical to Windows 8.1, and even calls itself a PC. It comes with Microsoft Office, making it an ideal portable productivity companion. And its ability to do real multi-tasking, like you would on a full size PC, outstrips the competition’s capabilities. But its PC-ness (all it’s good for, really) ends there since RT still doesn’t support full Windows 8.1 software. After you’re done working, you’ll find yourself digging for reasons to keep the Surface 2 in your hands.
Now that Apple’s Pages (Apple’s equivalent of MS Office) is available for free, iPad owners can connect a Bluetooth keyboard and create basic documents. Truth be told, Pages is nowhere near as comprehensive as Office since it doesn’t come with PowerPoint or Excel equivalents, but how much that matters is up to you.
If you absolutely need the full Office suite with PowerPoint and Excel for on-the-go productivity, the Surface 2 might be for you. But if you’re looking for something as portable as the Surface with the full functionality of a PC, check out the Surface Pro 2 which runs full Windows 8.1 for $899. Sure, you can get a more powerful Ultrabook with a bigger screen for around the same price, but despite their ultra-portable designs, they’re not as portable as the Surface Pros.
If all you need is a decent word processor when you’re out and about, get a keyboard case for your iPad (Mini included) for around $100.