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  1. #1


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    Question Ipad V. Surface 3
    Apologies if this is in the wrong thread, I wasn't sure where to post it.

    I'm a student in a 3yr year-round (no summers off) physical therapy program looking to make ALL of my in-class note taking digital. This includes writing on powerpoints, PDFs, word documents, taking notes on blank pages during labs and class, and other various things. I've been debating using an Ipad Air or Surface 3 for these purposes for several weeks now.
    I love Apple products and I have a macbook pro and iPhone. I went against this and bought the surface 3 about 3 weeks ago, PURELY because it has the pen which I thought would be well suited to my note-taking desires (and bc Best Buy lets me return it). I've already had to have it replaced once due to several issues within the first week, and since then still haven't totally loved it. I can still return it for a full refund (yay Best Buy) for 2ish weeks and am debating doing that in exchange for an iPad air. To be honest, I love the pen and I love OneNote for it's note taking, but everything outside of that is pretty subpar. My mail won't even work, watching videos on YouTube (required for several of my classes) in Edge or Chrome is fairly aggravating (and there's no app), listening to music is a pretty crappy experience, and overall I'm just not in love.
    However, my biggest issue I need this device to work well every single day for the next three years - at least - and based on the fact that I've already replaced one, have friends with bad experiences (good friend had a surface pro just stop working after a year), and GeekSquad reps at Best Buy say they see lots of returns, I just don't trust the Surface to do that. Because of this, I'm really highly considering trading it for an Ipad and hoping I can get even a semi-similar note taking experience.

    So basically this boils down to three questions:
    Does anyone think the Ipad can do great note taking? I'm worried about using a regular stylus to write extensive notes with.

    Does anyone know about longevity of the surface or Microsoft devices in general (especially in comparison to Ipads/Macs)? I haven't owned a Windows device for at least 6 years at this point so my experience is a little lacking and I can't find much information online.

    Does anyone have any general experience with a surface? Are my issues possibly because of me (It's entirely possible I just still don't know how to use it) or are these regular things?

    I know this is MAC-forums but I've seen a few really great discussions about iPad vs Surface on here (just weren't relevant to my questions), and the people here seem to know what they're talking about, so I figured I'd at least ask.
    P.S. Any of the surface pro's are out of the question because I don't want to pay more than about $500 for everything. My Surface 3 is running Windows 10.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
    Last edited by Broomhilda; 10-14-2015 at 06:44 PM.

  2. #2

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Broomhilda View Post
    I've been debating using an Ipad Air 2 or Surface 3 for these purposes for several weeks now.

    P.S. Any of the surface pro's are out of the question because I don't want to pay more than about $500 for everything.
    Just wanted to mention. You realize that the entry level iPad Air 2 (16gig storage, WiFi only) is $499. If you wanted more storage or cellular abilities…that will exceed $500.

    Just wanted to mention that.

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  3. #3


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    Quote Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
    Just wanted to mention. You realize that the entry level iPad Air 2 (16gig storage, WiFi only) is $499. If you wanted more storage or cellular abilities…that will exceed $500.

    Just wanted to mention that.

    - Nick
    My apologies! I haven't looked at the iPads for a few weeks now and confused the older iPad Air to be the iPad Air 2 (I was also looking a minis, and the older mini is the iPad Mini 2). I would actually be getting the 32GB iPad Air, which is $429 with my student discount. There doesn't seem to be an appreciable difference between the Air and the Air 2 for what I'm looking at, so I went for price.
    Thanks for the reply though!

  4. #4

    chas_m's Avatar
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    I've used a Surface, and they seem capable enough. Not a fan of the included keyboard, but hey -- they include one.

    As for iPad v. Surface, I think both have the core abilities and such covered. The questions are really:

    1. iOS or Windows for Tablets

    and

    2. Where are the apps and developers?

    When it comes to tablets, this makes it a bit of a no-brainer to my mind.

  5. #5

    vansmith's Avatar
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    One thing to keep in mind here is that the Surface is a full PC whereas the iPad is a tablet device running a mobile OS. This may matter and will make the answer to your question very easy.

    Do you use your Surface like a notebook or desktop machine? If not, an iPad might do.

    I do want to note though that OneNote, which I basically live in, is 1/5th the beast that it is in Windows. I've used OneNote on Windows and it's just, well, wonderful. On the iPad, it leaves a lot to the imagination (it had a terrible kerning bug up to about two weeks ago which tells me that it doesn't get anywhere near as much love as the Windows version). For day to day stuff, OneNote will get the job done although, from what I've seen, the handwriting experience on the Windows version will be a much more pleasant experience for you.

    Another thing to consider might be another Windows tablet. There are plenty out there, many of which might suit your needs.
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  6. #6

    chscag's Avatar
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    I agree. The Surface Pro 3 is a full sized PC with a Windows OS running it. And, at the same time can be used as a tablet. The one disadvantage when compared to the iPad Air or Air 2 is price. The Surface Pro 3 well equipped with memory and flash drive is going to be a good deal more expensive than both of the iPads.

  7. #7

    vansmith's Avatar
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    The price is indeed huge - an entry level iPad is $549 vs. $1,179 for an entry level Surface Pro 4.

    I'm inclined to recommend an iPad since you already own a MacBook Pro (if you were starting with no computer, I'd recommend the Surface). I say that in light of my earlier comment about OneNote (and the difference in functionality is significant). I guess my question at this point is: how dependent are you on OneNote and what kind of functionality do you use?
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  8. #8

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    The op is talking about the Surface 3, not the Pro - which starts at $499 with a 64 GB drive and 2 GB RAM.
    I'm using one at work - we opted for it over an iPad due to digitizer vs stylus and the specific need of being able to write notes free hand / draw lines & diagrams, not respond to your palm on the screen, yet at the same time recognize your finger(s) for scrolling within / between pages, enlarge a page, etc.

    Thus far I am disappointed in it.

    Imagine you're in a class listening to the prof and taking notes. A few minutes go by without needing to write anything, then the prof makes a specific point you'll need to know, you go to write it down and your tablet is rebooting - yeah, because it decided now was the time to install Windows updates - for the next 10-15 minutes.

    It works great in one class - no problem. You get to the next class and it decides now is the time only 3 out of 4 or 4 of 5 characters actually appear on the screen. Or it writes - you see the letters on the screen and then they just disappear. Or it decides not to write at all. Or it just acts slow like the RAM is full, so you need to take the time to reboot the thing - while you should have been taking notes.

    In my case it's at work while I'm out in the field walking 3,4,5,8 job sites in a day. Time is money. Over all, for me, it's still better than having to carry around that many sets of paper plans that could be up to 100 pages each. And I'm walking jobs taking notes of existing conditions prior to bidding work and not having to take notes of what someone is speaking. In a classroom situation where you're depending on this device to be your go to device - I have to say stay far, far away at this time. It just is not working good enough for your purpose.

    I would also say, expecting any $500 or under piece of electronics to be your go to device for another 3 years of school is likely asking way more than you're going to get out of $500. Or to put it another way... I wouldn't recommend an iPad for what you're planning to do with it either.

    (My primary app thus far on the Surface has been Drawbridge - I may need to experiment with One Note again and see if it's functionality is any better.)
    Last edited by bobtomay; 10-14-2015 at 09:26 PM.
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  9. #9


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    Quote Originally Posted by bobtomay View Post
    I would also say, expecting any $500 or under piece of electronics to be your go to device for another 3 years of school is likely asking way more than you're going to get out of $500. Or to put it another way... I wouldn't recommend an iPad for what you're planning to do with it either.
    This^^^

    I think you would honestly be much happier with something like a Chromebook if you're on a tighter budget. IMO, Chromebook's are VERY hard to beat for the money. Unless you really need/want the writing ability with a pen/stylus. Now, they do have a few small limitations too.

  10. #10

    chas_m's Avatar
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    Of course if you want something that will have real storage space and work even if your connection to the Internet is temporarily down ... maybe not.

    This is just my opinion, but if I had $1200 to blow on something for school the Surface Pro 4 probably wouldn't be it, nice as it is. An iPad Pro *possibly*, but I'd probably get a Retina MacBook or MacBook Air. Or, if on Windows, a really quality notebook. All of these are probably better choices for the length of time and things you'll want to do.

  11. #11


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    He already has a MBP. But I am totally with you, i'd just use something like a MBP for note taking.


    Quote Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
    Of course if you want something that will have real storage space and work even if your connection to the Internet is temporarily down ... maybe not.
    From what he explains, this should not be an issue with a Chromebook. If he is just dealing with documents, pdfs and PPTs, even a small 16GB Chromebook would be fine. You can still save things locally.

    But I do believe the OP's really looking for that "writing" experience vs. typing. In that case a Surface (not pro) or iPad/Android tablet are really the only options that fit the $500 dollar budget. My dad uses his Samsung Note tablet and likes using the stylus for the most part. Just another option.

    My opinion on Surface:
    Surface Pro/Book = I like a lot
    Surface (ARM based CPUs) = MEH

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