I need a tablet. So is it Microsoft Surface or Apple iPad?

I have avoided getting a full tablet for a while now. My first tablet was an Amazon Kindle, a tablet I bought specifically for consumption. Mainly I wanted it to read books. I bought the Kindle when it first came out and have found it perfect for book reading and web surfing, as well as occasional video watching. But that is all I really use it for. I bought a netbook to use for my occasional traveling. For the past 18 months this was enough for me. I couldn’t see spending the money for an expensive tablet. It wasn’t necessary and as a self employed person, I have to watch every penny.

Times Change

Well, my life has gotten pretty complex lately. I just took a position in-house with a law firm. At the same time, I will continue my consulting business. In addition, I have become very involved with the American Bar Association, my speaking engagements are increasing, and I find myself traveling a lot these days.

Reality Strikes

Last week I was in Lake Tahoe at an ABA event. I had my netbook and my Android phone. I didn’t bother with my Kindle. And I was miserable. I didn’t have much time to read or watch movies, my phone was fine for the plane trip and lengthy layovers, but my netbook really let me down.

I could read and return quick emails, but I couldn’t do the level of work I needed to do. My netbook became this slow, laggy monster. Clearly it just isn’t meeting my needs. I watched other people with their tablets (both iPad and Android) threw my hands up in defeat, and said ok, with this new crazy schedule, I need a tablet.

What to Choose?

Of course, my timing is such that I find myself in a position to choose between the new iPad (just refreshed today) or the new Surface (reviews coming out as we speak.) I should also mention, my regular laptop is starting to go. Given my laptop situation, I am intrigued by the Surface. The concept, something that runs a version of Office that will enable me to do work while I am traveling, seems very nice. Theoretically, I would be able to write and edit lengthy documents and work on powerpoint presentations in the native software.

The Reviews

I have spent the day reading about both the iPad (which I already know a lot about) and the Surface. The iPad is a nice tablet, but my colleagues express frustration about being able to use it as a true creation device. In other words, they are frustrated about problems with writing lengthy documents, editing powerpoint presentations, and so on.  If I can find a tablet that will allow me to work with the native software in a device meant to run it (which clearly my netbook isn’t up to) that will be perfect for me. The apps are lacking in the Surface, but I don’t use a lot of apps. I can wait for those.

Reviews are all over the place on the Surface. Some of them made me think, oh wow, this thing sounds great. Others made me think, oh wow, this thing sounds awful. I wasn’t sure what to think.

In the end, two things made up my mind.  Both came from a relative who works for Microsoft. Yes, he loves Microsoft, but he also has never steered me wrong. First, he pointed me to this review on engadget. Second, he answered my questions about the lack of Outlook on the Surface (email and calendar access are crucial to me.)

I Ordered a Surface

After reading all of the reviews and talking to my cousin, I picked the Surface. However, before I actually placed the order, I checked with a Microsoft customer service person to make sure that I can return the tablet if I am unhappy with it. I can, there is a 30 day return period.

You might wonder why I am ordering now instead of waiting for more reviews. The answer is I need a tablet before Thanksgiving, and I know there will be a delay. Right now Microsoft is saying the Surface will ship in 1-2 weeks. If there is great demand, and I think there will be, it could take longer.

Once I get my hands on my new Surface tablet, I will give you my thoughts. I am looking forward to trying it out. Oh, and my netbook? That goes to my niece.  At the same time, my nephew is getting my old phone. I am such a cool aunt.

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