What is better than a product showdown? A lame product showdown. A comparison of two products that are not the same. That way, we can make fun of one product while making fun of the entire methodology.
For example, let’s compare a soccer ball to a baseball. They are not the same. But if your sport is baseball, then you know which ball to use. If you play baseball with a soccer ball, then your neighbors will make fun of you the way I plan to make fun of Mark Hachman.
Is It A PC?
What is a computer? Here’s a partial list; PC, tablet, smartphone, smartwatch (add to that various and sundry servers, and other devices, which, well, compute). Is an iPhone a computer? Yes. Is an iPad a computer? Yes. Are both PCs in the traditional personal computer mode? No, of course not. That would be silly.
Yet, there are similarities with other products. Let’s go with the Microsoft Surface Go, a cheap and cumbersome PC notebook with a touchscreen. Is it a tablet? Nope. Is it a PC? Yes. A PC with a touchscreen. End of story. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Except someone wants you to see it anyway.
Microsoft may unveil the next generation of its year-old, entry-level Windows tablet, the Surface Go. For now, however, Apple has fired the first shot: a $329 10.2-inch iPad that offers a lot of what the Surface Go does, and for slightly less.
Remember, the Surface Go is a PC notebook that you can buy without a keyboard (nobody does) with a touchscreen, and the iPad is a tablet without a keyboard (but you can buy one). This is a silly comparison between two competitive brands– Microsoft and Apple– but not between competitive products.
Nobody uses the Surface Go– either the one you can buy now or one you might buy in the future– like a tablet. Occasionally, users might touch the display to do something, but most just ante up more money and buy a keyboard and use it as a cheap-assed PC notebook.
Not many people use an iPad as a personal computer; a notebook. But far more use it that way than use a Surface-anything as a tablet.
How do I know?
Nathan and I have worked at a private Chicago-area private school for many years. We ride herd on hundreds of Windows PCs of every variety, Macs and iPads, and a growing number of Chromebooks (with built-in touchscreens). From our experience, iPads get used as PC notebooks occasionally; often enough that nobody is freaked out about it. Surface-like PC notebooks with touchscreens seldom get used as tablets, and when they do, it tends to fall into two camps.
Camp #1 is the occasional touch of the screen while the Surface-like notebook (not all are Microsoft’s brand) is used with a keyboard as a PC. Camp #2 is when the PC owner forgets the detachable keyboard, to which students and faculty alike say, “Hey, where’s the keyboard?”
We can argue the merits and differences between Windows 10 and iPad OS (formerly iOS for iPad) all day but in the end, it doesn’t matter. iPad customers have a million apps from which to choose on the App Store. Windows users do not have that many, but their apps tend to be more complex and more powerful, but seldom used as tablet apps.
Such comparisons are fake comparisons; a melon vs. a peach, an Apple vs. an orange.
While many Microsoft Surface tablets feel bulky when detached from their Type Cover keyboards, the $399 Surface Go does not. However, it’s also powered by a somewhat poky Intel Pentium Gold processor, while Apple’s latest iPad has its optimized A10 Fusion chip under the hood.
We have a few Surface Go models floating around and nobody wants to use them sans the keyboard, and nobody uses them as a tablet.