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Grow Your Business Technology

Surface 3 vs. iPad Air 2: Which Is Better for Business?

Surface 3 vs. iPad Air 2: Which Is Better for Business?
Credit: Apple/Microsoft

For most business users, the Microsoft Surface and Apple iPad take the cake among business tablets. One is built completely on the Windows platform, and the latter on iOS. But choosing the right device is never quite as clear-cut as deciding whether you're a Windows or iOS fan. Making the choice even tougher, Microsoft has launched the Surface 3, a less expensive version of the company's Surface Pro. Like the iPad Air 2, the Surface 3 starts at $499. But how does this hybrid compare to the iPad Air 2? Read on to find out which is best for your business.

Display 

If you're looking for a larger screen, go for the Surface 3, though the difference is minimal. The Surface 3's 10.8-inch screen is roughly an inch larger than the iPad's 9.7 inches. 

Although both devices offer enough screen real estate for business apps, videoconferencing and entertainment, the iPad Air 2 shines in its display. It sports a stunning, 2,048 x 1,536-pixel Retina display, whereas the Surface 3 takes a step down, with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. [Microsoft Surface 3 vs. Surface Pro 3: Which Is Better for Business?]

Performance 

Is performance your main concern? If so, this is where the iPad Air 2 shines. It's powered by Apple's new lightning-fast, high-performance A8X chip. It's the upgraded version of the processor that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus use, giving even the most demanding business users a ton of power for multitasking and running all sorts of business apps.

This doesn't mean the Surface 3 has nothing to offer. It runs on Intel's Atom x7 CPU, so you can have Office files open while browsing the Web without any issues. If you need more power from your Surface, consider the Surface Pro 3 instead.

Productivity 

If your business is strictly Windows- and Microsoft Office-dependent, stick with the Surface 3. It runs on a full version of Windows 8.1, so all your current apps will be compatible and run without a hitch. 

Because the iPad Air 2 runs on iOS 8, it won't replace your Windows-based systems. You can still use Office, however, via Office for iPad. This suite of productivity apps lets you download and access iPad-optimized versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Other compatible apps include OneNote, OneDrive, Skype and Yammer. iOS 8 also gives you complete access to the Apple App Store, where you'll find a vast collection of popular business apps that are built for the iPad.

Furthermore, the Surface 3 comes equipped with a kickstand and Type Cover, Microsoft's snap-on keyboard that also acts as a screen protector. Combined, this lets you transition the Surface 3 into notebook form. 

The iPad 2 doesn't have its own keyboard-screen cover hybrid or kickstand, but there are plenty of accessory choices from various manufacturers to transform it into a notebook.

Pricing 

The Surface 3 starts at $499 and will launch on May 5. The iPad Air 2 costs $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 64GB model and $699 for the 128GB model. You can also grab an LTE-enabled version that lets you connect to a cellular data plan starting at $629. 

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.