5 reasons to choose iPad Air over Surface 2

I use, and love Windows 8.1. Although I was never a huge fan of Windows 8, the changes in the upgraded OS have won me over and I could never imagine going back to an older version of Windows. For that reason, tablets like Surface really appeal to me, but I can’t see myself replacing my iPad with Microsoft’s slate any time soon.

The 4th gen iPad I own is a constant companion that I use for everything -- work, entertainment, social networking, and so on. There are some areas where I know using a Surface would be better (by "some areas" I really just mean "work"), but when I do upgrade, I’ll be going for an iPad Air (sorry Microsoft). This is why:

1. Apps. The Windows app ecosystem is improving all the time. The number of new apps released weekly might not break any records, but Surface owners can at least now enjoy many of the best apps out there. However, no tablet has such a rich and diverse collection of apps as the iPad. I’m something of an app-o-holic, and I couldn’t imagine trading the wealth offered by the Apple app store for a lesser selection. Apple’s review process means the quality of apps is usually much higher too.

2. The iPad Air is a tablet. The new iPad, like all previous generations, has been designed to be a tablet. Sure, you can buy keyboards and various add-ons to transform it into something else, but unlike the Surface there’s no identity crisis here. Look at the photos of the iPad Air, it looks like a tablet. Look at the photos of Surface and it looks like a laptop -- there’s a keyboard in nearly every shot. The Air is light and designed to be held and carried. The Surface has a kickstand so you can put it down.

3. Battery Life. When I first switched from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S III the thing that shocked me the most was the difference in battery life. My Android phone was constantly on charge. Apple battery life is phenomenal. Even when I’m using my iPad constantly for processor intensive tasks, I know I won’t have to be scurrying around looking for the charger as I’ll have hours and hours of battery life left. I can go days without even thinking about charging the iPad, and the Air is the same. Surface 2 has much better battery life than its predecessor, but in real world usage it still falls well short of that offered by Apple's tablet.

4. Screen. "Retina Display" means nothing in reality, but the iPad Air’s screen is beautiful to look at. It’s much sharper than the Surface 2, with a resolution of 2048 by 1536 vs 1920 by 1080, and a pixel density of 264 ppi. You might not think the screen quality makes that much difference, but trust me it does.

5. Flexibility. I can use my iPad for everything -- games, work, remote accessing my PC... Sure Surface comes with Office (and don’t we know it -- Microsoft never stops reminding us) but the new iPad Air has iWork, which will suit most people’s needs just fine, and there are plenty of alternative office apps available. And let’s face it, Office is likely to come to the iPad eventually anyway. Surface is a fine tablet for doing work, and engaging in a spot of entertainment -- iPad Air is a superb tablet for everything.

Comparing the iPad Air with the Surface 2 (RT and Pro models) is very much like comparing apples with oranges. If you want a touch screen laptop that can be used like a tablet, then that’s the Surface. But if you want a tablet, that’s designed to be a tablet and can be carried everywhere, and easily, and can be a laptop if you need it to be, then really the Air is the best choice by far.

You can view my colleague Mark Wilson's counter-argument here.

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