I went to my local mall, Danbury Fair, over the weekend to check out the new iPad Mini and the Microsoft Surface. The mall is one of the few that has both an Apple store and a Microsoft store. As usual, both stores were packed with people. While I prefer the look and layout of the Microsoft store, there were many more customers actually making purchases in the Apple store as opposed to browsing in the Microsoft store.
First, I took my sons to the Apple store to try the iPad Mini. It's a beautiful piece of hardware that's thin, light and a great alternative to a full-sized iPad. While we didn't buy one, my sons indicated that the iPad Mini would be on their Christmas list.
Next up was the Microsoft Surface tablet which is aimed squarely at the iPad. My sons weren't drawn to the Surface as much as to the XBox so I gave the Surface a test. As Microsoft's first PC, I was impressed by the design and build quality. The Surface is comfortable to hold and the kickstand and optional keyboards (touch and type) worked well. Unlike the iPad, you really do need the keyboard and touchpad to get the most out of the Surface since many of the menus (e.g. control panel, Office etc) use the older Windows 7 interface which aren't as touch friendly. Truth be told, I've been running Windows 8 on my laptop for the past 5 months so I'm familiar with the new user interface. All in all, this is a great first effort by Microsoft in it's goal to become more like Apple and remain relevant in the "post-PC" era. Will I buy a Surface? Not at this time as my current Windows 8 laptop, iPad and iPhone meets my current needs. However, if I did make a purchase, I'd probably lean towards a convertible touchscreen ultrabook. However, I'm interested in seeing the Microsoft Surface Pro which is scheduled to be released early next year.
Microsoft Surface tablet with the touch cover
Windows 8 display