Microsoft Surface RT vs iPad 4 comparison review
By David Court | PC Advisor | Published: 16:19, 21 November 2012
Both tablet's cameras are pretty good, but the iPad 4 edges this comparison thanks to its superior rear-facing camera. The Surface and the iPad 4 share the honours when it comes to the front facing cameras, with each of them boasting 720p video recording. However the iPad 4 turns the screw with its 1080p HD rear-facing camera compared to the Surface's 720p rear-facing camera.
Microsoft does not state the megapixels for either of the Surface's cameras. From our own use of the device we felt that the iPad 4's 5Mp rear-facing camera was superior to the Surface's unstated sill image camera, while we couldn't split the performance of either's front facing camera.
Things really start to heat up when you take a look at the connectivity options of the Microsoft Surface RT and iPad 4, with both taking very different approaches.
Let's start of with the controversial main data/power port of the iPad 4. Apple's reluctance to join the USB bandwagon has been a sore spot for many for sometime now, so when Apple decided to replace its standard 30-pin connector to a new unique-to-Apple data connector that was not USB, the company annoyed more than a few people. That's not to say that the new Apple Lightning connecter is bad (it's not), it just means that people who had bought previous Apple cables and/or docks now had equipment that was redundant without a £25 adapter.
In our opinion the Surface's physical connections is one of its best qualities. It offers full-size USB connectivity, a microSD card slot and a HD video out port. That's three key ports that the iPad 4 doesn't offer.
While we think the Surface trumps the iPad in terms of physical connectivity, it's also clear that the iPad has the run on the Surface with its wireless capabilities. Both tablets offer pretty standard Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0 technology; however the iPad 4 can be bought with 3G and 4G cellular connectivity whereas the surface can't.
Things get pretty interesting when you compare the software for the Surface and the iPad 4. It's interesting because the iPad 4 completely blows the Surface out of the water with its fantastic app store. Microsoft made big noises about the quality of its own Windows store, but it's going to take a lot of time and effort before Microsoft gets anywhere near the stand of Apple's App Store.
Our Surface RT review explains the situation well. "As it stands, this is the area where the Surface RT falls down. There are a few big name apps like Netflix and Microsoft's own like Skype and Xbox SmartGlass. However, there's a lack of the apps most iPad and Android tablet owners use every day including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Maps, Dropbox, Spotify, BBC iPlayer, IMDb, ESPN Goals and Sky Go. Games not available include Bad Piggies, Words With Friends, World Of Goo and the lists go on."
"Most of these services, such as BBC's iPlayer, can be accessed via IE10 but this is only a small consolation. Services like Facebook and Twitter can be accessed by the People Hub but this isn't a suitable replacement for a dedicated app. The idea of a tablet is to have tailored apps, not access services via a web browser like you would on a laptop. Until the situation improves, the lack of app support is a big issue."
This is pretty tricky one, as our experience with the Surface's battery life wasn't at all as Microsoft advertised. After fully charging the Surface and using it very lightly and briefly during the day, we left the tablet with ample battery left during the night. When we attempted to use the Surface in the morning we found the battery had gone completely flat and it required power from the mains to bring it back to life.
What we can tell you is that the iPad 4 has a very good and reliable battery, that gives you 10-hours of use before it conks out.