My first tablet was some cheap android tablet I bought off the Staples website way back when I used to work for them and their Rewards Card was actually useful. It had a resistive touch screen which worked ok as long as I wasn’t trying to scroll with it. A stylus worked great but I could never find a good case for it that would hold both the tablet and stylus.
I soon graduated to an iPad 2 when the iPad 3 came out and the 2 took a price cut. I loved it. In fact I sold my netbook after two weeks with the iPad once I realized it did everything I needed in a mobile solution, or so I thought. It would play YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and even work as a Word Processor in a pinch. The web browser was fairly robust for a tablet I though and rarely encountered anything it could not do.
However after a while I was missing being able to use websites with Flash, type with any sense of speed and print directly from it. I told myself I could love without the flash if I could solve the other issues. I tried using different print utilities with varied success and never could find a case with a keyboard that would still be slim enough for my liking.
So the search for a new tablet was on. However it was cut short when my wife said she wanted a tablet of her own. Thinking I would be clever and get her something she could put in her purse I bought her a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0. Very soon, as in that night, she said she wanted something with a larger screen, the 7in screen on the Galaxy wasn’t going to cut it. I ended up giving her my iPad since a friend of mine had just recently given me her HP Touchpad when she upgraded to a new tablet herself. That did not solve my problem, but it did solve my wife’s. She was happy.
I convinced myself the touchpad would be fine since I actually really like WebOS that comes loaded on the HP tablet. In fact I would still be using my Palm Pixi phone with WebOS if it had not have broken years ago. I still maintain that has been my favorite phone even with my love for my Windows Phone. After about a week the limitations of using a dead OS reared it’s head and I installed Android on the touchpad to extend it’s life and that worked for a few months.
But as it does, my want for another tablet that fulfilled my needs 100%. That is when I decided to walk into BestBuy and seriously look at what was out there. I first went to the iPads because I had one before and new the system. Obviously they were fine and would do the trick just fine. But I would still have the same issues I had with the iPad 2. So I went to look at the Surface from Microsoft. Actually I looked at the Surface Pro 2 and almost went home with it. But I took a step back and really looked at my needs. I walked out with a Surface RT and Type Keyboard. Not a Surface RT 2, but the previous one. The price was right and I could not find an appreciable difference at the store to warrant the higher price tag.
As soon as I got home and fired it up, I knew I had found my last tablet for a long time. It runs the full Windows 8 operating system, it is not neutered or nerfed other than the hardware architecture. The ARM processor does limit the software available but the OS is the full Monty. The 8.1 update gave it a full working Office Suite complete with Outlook. I get the Metro start menu as well as the traditional desktop which greatly aids in multitasking. The Type Cover is nice and slim and works great as a screen protector and is very practical. It is nearly full size and very easy to type quite quickly on it.
The final pieces that made me realize my search was over was the useful USB port on it that accepts whatever I have tried in it so far and it automatically found my printer on my network and installed the right drivers. I didn’t have to do anything, literally 5 minutes out of the box and it set itself up and was ready to print. The fact it runs Windows 8, now 8.1, means it has Adobe Flash built in, HTML5 support and all the benefits of an actual PC to be honest, in the form of a tablet.
I find it a bit ironic that in my search for the perfect tablet I ended up with one that acts like a PC. When I use it at work I typically have a mouse plugged in and use it like a netbook. In fact it’s not until I am laying in bed with it watching videos or doing light web surfing that the tablet in it comes out. The keyboard detaches easily and it feels solid in the hands. My only complaint is the non-standard charger, but I get it I guess. The magnetic plug is a bit cumbersome to use, even two months into ownership but it works.
Would I recommend a Surface? Sure, if it’s what you are looking for. But the iPad is still a very viable choice and extremely useful. There is a reason it’s the best selling tablet still. But the Surface is a great alternative, even without the add-on keyboard, however if you plan to do any amount of typing it makes a huge difference. The Surface 2 is faster with better resolution but I would still recommend the previous one for the average joe as they are cheaper and I have never experienced any slow down on mine. The screen on the first gen is still nice and very bright and sharp. Either way you will get an excellent tablet.