Macbook Air 11" 2013 is better than Surface Pro 2
Debate Rounds (5)
INTEGRATION - Apple provides the best user experience due to maturity in the industry
Microsoft launched the Surface for several reasons, but one of them is the realization that the ideal way to provide an ideal user experience for your users is via your own hardware/software integration and the Surface series is the answer to that. The Surface is by far the best device to run Windows 8, they aren't the cheapest, and definitely not the most powerful - but you won't be able to find any other device on the market that really compares to it ie touch cover, type cover, vapormg, magnetic adapter, kickstand - a device which was specifically designed for the best Windows 8 user experience; Very similar to what Google did with the Nexus line. Since Windows 8 and Surface are the future of Microsoft, Redmond is now really playing in Apple's realm and Apple at the moment is in a far better position than Microsoft at producing integrated products that appeal to consumers.
PRICE - Apple is cheaper
Windows 8.1 costs 119.99 vs Mac OS X 10.9 (Price is unknown but if based on Mountain Lion, it would cost 19.99, however Lion cost 29.99 and following that trend there could be a possibility that Mavericks may cost 9.99). Let's take a look at hardware, the Surface Pro 2 4GB 128GB costs 999 + keyboard would cost an extra 119.99 or 129.99 depending on which one you choose. Compare this with a Macbook Air 11" 4GB 128GB which gives you a fully functioning ultraportable for 999.00. Heck you can even use the money you suppose to spend on the keyboards to purchase Windows and dual boot if you are so inclined. But the best part, as a student, you can get the Macbook Air 11" for 949 special pricing - may not be much, but at least Apple gives you something.
EXTENDED SUPPORT - US Only 2 Years Microsoft Complete w/ 2 Accidental Claims at Added Expense vs Worldwide 3 Years AppleCare
For extended warranty, Microsoft has Microsoft Complete which cost $149.00 for the Surface Pro and last an extra year in addition to the standard warranty and offers two accidental damage claim for an added fee of 49 each time. AppleCare offers two years additional warranty which costs 249.00, you don't get additional claims but you can get this cover cheaper with student special pricing to 183.00. But the best part is you are covered worldwide and can seek for support worldwide, just reach out to AppleCare at your location when your computer fails.
I feel I should in a way, make a disclaimer about myself. I use a Mac and prefer Mac OS X over Windows, but with that said, I don't feel that the 2013 Macbook Air is better than the Surface 2 as I don't believe they are competing directly against one another, and such a comparison is unneeded.
Integration- While it is true that Apple heavily integrates OS X with the Mac line, this is because Apple takes complete control over their products on both the hardware and software side, thus making them seamlessly work together. Microsoft has a very different business model, the majority of Microsoft's profit is not from hardware sales, but software. Office and Windows line the pockets of Redmond's technology powerhouse, not the sales of Surface tablets. As you've said, the Surface is designed to give users the best way of using Windows 8 much like Google's Nexus line, and while this may be true, it does more than that. The Surface falls into a category all it's own. It takes the power of an ultrabook with the form factory of a tablet, and I feel this puts it in a completely different market than the Air.
Price- The cost of the operating system is null as the device comes with the operating system preinstalled. Yes, on the surface (no pun intended), the Macbook Air seems to cost less, however, the Microsoft Surface has a high resolution display with a pressure sensitive layer that includes a pen style digitizer and an SD card slot. To get such an SD card slot on a Macbook Air would require an upgrade to the 13in model, thus nullifying the price argument, however, the comparison is between the Surface Pro 2 and 11in MacBook Air. I feel, that the increased display resolution, and Wacom layer on top of the 1080 display allow for the cost difference (assuming one buy a touch or type cover with the Surface). This again falls onto my original point, the two products are amazing in their own respect. One is a super slim laptop with no touch screen and the typical built in keyboard and amazing trackpad, the other a completely different cross between the idea of a tablet and an ultrabook creating a device that is intriguing and wonderful, especially with the pressure sensitive display.
Extended Support- This I agree with you. Apple has a better extended warranty than Microsoft.
Though you may argue that the Surface Pro can't be compared to a Macbook Air 11" - they are indeed competing ultra portables. The reason I say this is because, Microsoft has been advertising the Surface Pro with a keyboard attachment which essentially transforms the device into a laptop (infact without a keyboard and a trackpad/mouse, the Surface Pro would be very hard to operate in desktop mode), they even advertise the ergonomics of using it on your lap. All this portrays that Microsoft is indeed pitching the Surface Pro as a laptop replacement and in this case, it is essentially a direct competition to a Macbook Air 11". You may also argue that the Macbook Air 11" lacks a pen input interface but just as a keyboard attachment is an accessory for the Surface Pro, a Wacom tablet could be attached to the Macbook Air 11" to facilitate that. The 1080p resolution on the 10" Surface Pro with 150% scaling has been the centre of much negativity among Surface Pro users so am not sure if it is advantageous. In essence both devices fill the same use case same use case scenario which is mainly for productivity. The touch screen and Metro Apps on the Surface Pro does add a different perspective but that is part of the user experience just as the Macbook Air 11" has a incomparable multi touch track pad and includes dashboard widgets.
Microsoft has shifted their focus from a software company to a hardware and services company. This was the direction they have chosen to traverse in order to remain relevant in the post pc era especially with consumers. Thus with that said, continuing to charge high for software when there is a distinct difference with your competitor's pricing simply reflects greed. You may say that since software is bundled with the devices, thus the cost of software is moot - but if the individual decides to keep his/her device instead of upgrading at every OS release which could indeed prove costly; Then at least the option of upgrading software for the Mac would not be such a costly endeavour when compared with the Surface.
The cost of a decent Wacom tablet runs, on the low end, around 80 to 100 dollars on Amazon. This makes the price to get similar features, granted not the same as the touch sensitivity isn't built into the display, around $1099, putting it in a similar price range as the Surface model with a cover.
The Surface fills a different market niche than the Air. While they are both ultraportable computing devices, the Air is a full on laptop with built in keyboard and trackpad, both of which being superior to the respective keyboard and trackpad on the type cover (in my opinion the touch cover is almost unusable and un practical, but I digress). The Surface, as I said before, falls into not only the possible computer market, but also the tablet market, effectively giving someone looking for an all in one device that can serve as both their mobile computer/laptop and as a media consumption or creation tablet similar to how one uses an iPad. This two for one kind of product sets the Surface apart for "traditional" laptops (including the MacBook Air). The Air is an awesome computer for using as a traditional laptop (granted, I'm a MacBook Pro kind of guy, as I value power over portability, but I still value the Air's capability) for the likes of productivity and the such, however, using the Air as one would use a tablet would be cumbersome, even with it's small form factor. The Surface Pro fills that gap. It can be used as a laptop and has the power of a laptop, but it still can be used as a tablet if the desire arises. This can possibly element the need for a laptop and a tablet. I will say however, that the Surface Pro does need to have a better battery life and in that aspect the Air is superior.
Microsoft has shifted their focus from software as much as Google has from advertising. Microsoft's products and services depend on Microsoft software. The simple fact that they have produced a device of their own to showcase their latest software and features is very similar to what Google does with the Nexus line as you stated in round one. The fact that they have made a computing device instead of a game console does not in any way degrade their status as a software company just as the fact that Google produces a single phone, 7in tablet, and 10in tablet to show the power of Android and create a hardware reference for developers and OEMs alike does not undermine that they are a service and advertising company. Microsoft got into the PC hardware game to show off and create something completely new, and perhaps, more innovative than anything Apple has put out since the introduction of the original MacBook Air and iPad.
The Surface melds the two concepts into one in a seamless fashion, are their still kinks? Of course! But as time progresses the product fleshes itself out more. Such can be seen with the MacBook Air itself. The original was a weird, slow, yet thin computer that was absurdly expensive. It didn't have the fancy trackpad the the Pros of the time had, (which is the same as the one in the Airs of today). It ran on a hard-drive and had a single USB port that was reveled by a folding door on the side, but at least it fit in an envelope.
Fast forward to this point in time, and the Air can almost hold it's own against a MacBook Pro in the same price range. The technology improved, and the bugs were worked out. This will happen to the Surface line if Microsoft wants it to.
We're comparing a fourth generation product (the 11 inch, its third) to a second generation product, both fitting different niches while having some overlap. If compared head to head, and at a glance, of course most people will say that the MacBook Air is better, however, with some thought, the questions that arise in my mind aren't "Which is better?", but "Which is more innovative," "Which is more practical?" ,and , "Should these two products be placed in the same segment of the market?"
The Surface isn't better than the Air, however, the Air isn't better than the Surface. I place them on equal grounds.
I agree with you and on paper and at least through Microsoft's advertising campaigns - the surface does seem like the best of both worlds, however in practice and in reality based on the countless reviews and consumer feedback, it doesn't, and I will explain why.
Having a two in one product is bound to create compromises as we have seen in the Surface Pro - bad battery life for a laptop and size/weight/noise/heat as a tablet. The Surface Pro 2 may have improved the battery life but it still does not change the fact that a Surface Pro has size/weight/noise/heat issues which impedes its usability as a tablet.
Let's face it, the only reason the Surface Pro/2 sells and the Surface RT/2 doesn't is because one runs a traditional desktop mode with access to traditional apps while the other doesn't and that is Windows strength - the breadth of desktop apps. Unless of course your content with the offering of the Windows store alone, however statistics don't lie and the current trend at the moment with the 9 million write off indicates that the Surface and even the Surface Pro are not huge hits. Thus there is no way a Surface Pro/RT/2 can compare to an iPad because if you are using it as a tablet, there are simply no apps in the Windows store that enables you to use the Surface in the ways that you do an iPad, and desktop apps on the Surface requires a keyboard and pointer, therefore you will be having a hard time using desktop apps with touch only.
For those reasons the Surface Pro is really a laptop first before a tablet - touch, pen input, back camera, kick stand are nice and unique additions to this device but people are going to use it as a laptop primarily and as a laptop, it does make a fine device, hence the comparison with the Macbook Air. If the Macbook Airs and iPads does not exist, I strongly believe the Surfaces would be flying of the shelves - unfortunate for Microsoft, we do not live in that world.
Given that Microsoft is still new with Windows 8, just created the Surface series, shifted to a hardware and services company, and currently has not yet found a successor for Ballmer; does not bode well with consumers and business partners. People aren't sure where Microsoft is heading, or what they are going to do next, thus it doesn't give them much confidence to buy their products or invest in them. Sure, there are fanboys but the majority of Windows users will be staying on 7 - Windows 7 is bound to be the next XP
So as it stands at the moment if you had 999 and needed to buy a laptop; the 2nd gen Surface Pro vs 4th gen Macbook Air - the Macbook Air is just simply the wiser option for all the reasons I have mentioned above, it is definitely for me. Also making OS X, iLife, and iWork was a smart move for both new and existing Mac users. Now I wonder if what ever Windows cooks up next would be free, but highly doubt it.
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