10.5-inch iPad Pro (2017) Vs. Surface Pro Gen 5 (2017): Best Laptop Replacement – Forbes

10.5-inch iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard.

Credit: Apple

10.5-inch iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro and 2017 Surface Pro “5” are arriving at just about the same time. Both tablets offer keyboard bases to replace your laptop. Which one gets the job done?

I’ve spent time with both devices. Which will let you ditch your laptop? Read on.

iPad Pro 10.5: For a pure tablet experience, it doesn’t get any better than the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Apple has nailed the tablet. The problem is, it’s such a good tablet that the laptop replacement thing is a distant second. Yes, the new iPad Pro is as fast as a laptop (or faster), as pretty much every published A10x Fusion processor benchmark over the last few days demonstrates.

(See Lisa Gade’s review at MobileTechReview to see some pretty mind-blowing benchmarks. Laptop Mag also offers some pretty compelling proof. The review site found that when doing certain tasks on performance-intensive Adobe Premiere app, the iPad Pro was a lot faster than a MacBook Pro at rendering and exporting video clips.)

Two hurdles to laptop replacement: But speed alone doesn’t make it a laptop. There are two big hurdles to full-time laptop replacement:

First is iOS, which is a minefield of gotchas when trying to get productivity work done efficiently. “Efficient” being the operative word. While you can do pretty much everything on the iPad Pro that you can do on a MacBook or Windows laptop, there are just too many instances where you get hung up on something that iOS isn’t designed (coded) to handle as efficiently as a MacBook and macOS or a laptop running Windows 10. I eventually threw in the towel and ended up doing all of my productivity work on my MacBook.

Second, is the lack of a trackpad on the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard (sold separately for $159) and the lack of support for a pointing device in iOS. This is a deal breaker for me. Yes, there’s a half-assed attempt at a pointing device when using the iPad’s virtual keyboard (you place two fingers anywhere on the keyboard and you can move the cursor around.) But it’s clumsy and inefficient when compared to the real thing. Pointing devices always trump your finger when doing any kind of conventional productivity stuff.

Verdict: Best tablet out there but not the best laptop replacment.

9.7-inch iPad Pro (top) and 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Little difference in size because of the smaller bezels on the 10.5 incher.

Credit: Brooke Crothers

9.7-inch iPad Pro (top) and 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Little difference in size because of the smaller bezels on the 10.5 incher.

10.5-inch iPad Pro pricing starts at $649 with A10X processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi only. That jumps to $779 with Wi-Fi plus cellular. The Smart Keyboard is sold separately for $159.

New 2017 Surface Pro.

Credit: Brooke Crothers

New 2017 Surface Pro.

2017 Surface Pro gen 5: Just as Apple has perfected the pure tablet experience, Microsoft has cornered the market on the tablet-laptop hybrid. Microsoft offers two great tablet-laptop hybrids: the Surface Book, a full-bore laptop replacement, and the 2017 Surface Pro.

(See: Surface Pro 2017 Vs. Surface Laptop Vs. MacBook Pro 13 (2017): Specs, Price, Bang-For-Buck)

Slap the Alcantara-material Signature Type Cover keyboard (sold separately for $159.99) on the Surface Pro and you have a serious laptop replacement, replete with a first-rate typing experience and built-in trackpad. And you’re running the same Windows 10 that’s used on all laptops, not an OS originally designed for phones (aka iOS). 

But there is a caveat: while the Surface Pro is designed as a 2-in-1 hybrid, it’s still a sold as a standalone tablet by Microsoft. And the kickstand on the back means it’s more awkward than a pure clamshell laptop when placing it on an uneven surface like your lap. (The pricier Surface Book solves that problem).

Verdict: A great hybrid that comes very close to a full-fledged laptop — and beats the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement.

Surface Pro 2017 pricing starts at $799 with 7th Generation Core “Kaby Lake” processor (m3), 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and $999 with Core i5. The signature Type Cover keyboard is sold separately for $159.99.



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