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Five ways the Surface RT beats the iPad

Tony Bradley | Nov. 29, 2012
Microsoft faces a serious challenge to compete against devices but deserves some kudos for engineering a very solid, capable device to show off the Windows RT platform.

Of course, there are other cover options for the iPad as well--like the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. For the same $100 as the Surface RT Touch Cover ($120 if you purchase it separate from the Surface RT itself), the Logitech keyboard cover also provides a physical, tactile keyboard, and better stand for propping the iPad up than the Apple Smart Cover.

3. Office RT Apps

From a business perspective, the inclusion of the core Microsoft Office tools is a huge plus for the Surface RT. There are plenty of productivity apps available for the iPad, and most of them offer at least some compatibility with the Microsoft Office file formats. But, only Microsoft Office is Microsoft Office.

The Office RT apps that come with the Surface RT are very close in both form and function to their desktop equivalents. The features and conventions used are more or less the same, and you don't have to deal with the formatting and fidelity issues that seem to plague third-party productivity software that claims to be "compatible" with Microsoft Office.

If the rumors pan out and Microsoft offers Microsoft Office apps for iOS, it will level the playing field some, but for now the Office RT apps alone might be enough for some businesses to choose the Surface RT over the iPad.

4. USB Port

The Surface RT has a USB port, and the iPad does not. The USB port opens up a whole world of possibilities for the Surface RT that are not available for an iPad. Aside from being able to plug in an external USB hard drive or USB thumb drive to transfer files or add storage capacity, the USB port could also be used to add a keyboard, mouse, printer, webcam, or just about any other device known to man.

One minor complaint about the USB port is its placement. When using the Surface RT in landscape mode with the kickstand open, the USB port is on the upper right. It works fine for USB thumb drives, or webcams that you might want to place on top of the Surface, but it's awkward for a keyboard, mouse, or printer, and could pose a problem for USB devices with short cables.

5. MicroSDXC Card Slot

The USB port can be used to expand storage capacity, but the Surface RT also provides a more preferable means of accomplishing the same goal. The MicroSDXC card slot is hidden inconspicuously on the back of the Surface RT behind the kickstand plate. You can add up to 64GB of additional storage by slipping a MicroSD card the size of a fingernail into the tablet.


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