I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days with both the 12” Apple iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Book.
I’m not going to breakdown the specs on these - far too many people already have. Rather, I’m going to cover usability and my observations and opinion for which worked best for me with the hopes that this real life review helps in your decision making process.
The 12” Apple iPad Pro was very nice and impressive right out of the box. It seemed light for its size and like any iPad, it felt good to hold. First, the OS obviously is iOS. Like many, I’d like to see a full fledged OS on the iPad before really considering it a replacement for my laptop. I do have a Window’s server that I can remote into and that experience was great to have more desktop real estate than what I have on my 9” iPad Air. The touch interface was responsive for both the remote session and in iOS alike. However, for personal use? Simple email, web surfing and such, yes - I could see the iPad Pro being my only device… maybe after I retire though.
I liked the improved speed and gorgeous display on the iPad compared to my iPad Air. I also had the Apple Smart Keyboard with this pro and I was even impressed with it. Having tried keyboard cases in the past I had low expectations, but I think Apple nailed the keyboard.
All in all, I liked the 12” iPad Pro but I don’t see it as a laptop replacement for me simply because of the OS. Some things I need for work require a real OS - either OS X or Windows. But if I had an extra grand laying around, I could see this as a nice entertainment device to replace my iPad Air. The only thing holding me back is the size - even after a few days it still seemed too big for my preference.
So… 12” iPad Pro vs the Surface Book? As a laptop, I have to go with the Surface Book simply for the OS. As a tablet? As I mentioned in a previous article for my Hands on Comparison of Apple MacBook vs Microsoft Surface Book, I found the Surface Book in tablet mode to be burdensome. I factored that down to being the fault of Windows 10. It just wasn’t as intuitive as the iPad and I had difficulty using hyperlinks on webpages that worked fine on the iPad. But again, as a laptop, I found the Surface Book to be a nice laptop I could effectively use for work.