Tech-Friendly: Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to MacBook Air is a joke

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

Microsoft is running a television commercial for its Surface Pro 3 convertible tablet, comparing it to, and claiming it was better than, the Apple MacBook Air. The commercial is so bad it even highlights the weaknesses of the Surface Pro 3.

For my comparison and deconstruction of the commercial, I will compare the Surface Pro 3 to an Apple MacBook Air, each with a 1.7 GHz i7 processor, 256GB SSD storage device, and 8GB of RAM. The Surface Pro 3 retails for $1,549; the MacBook Air, as configured, retails for $1,349, a $200 savings. So much for Macs being more expensive than comparable PCs. Myth busted.

The commercial does not claim the Surface Pro 3 is less expensive, though, only as fast as the MacBook Air. Apple laptops typically outpace similarly equipped Windows laptops and have for a few years now. Without any quoted speed tests, Microsoft is probably basing its claim on the similar processor. So, without any supporting data, Microsoft is just guessing.

The next claim is that the Surface Pro and MacBook Air have similar expansion ports; this is simply false. Both devices have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a USB expansion port. However, while the Surface Pro has a mini-display port for external video, the MacBook Air has a Thunderbolt port for: external video display, ultra fast drive connections and super fast wired network connections, among other uses. The MacBook Air’s Thunderbolt port serves a data exchange hub for all kinds of data connections.

Microsoft then touts a detachable keyboard. So, the keyboard is broken, and that is a feature? Really, a detachable keyboard simply means more connections that can break. Once the keyboard connection breaks, you just have a tablet. Mac laptop keyboards are the best in the business, so I would rather work a MacBook Air keyboard than a flimsy detachable keyboard.

Next up is the kickstand for the Surface Pro. The kickstand props up the tablet screen. The screen needs help standing up? Not sure why Microsoft highlights a weakness of the device, but heck, it is their commercial.

Last, and probably most importantly, the Surface Pro 3 runs Windows 8.1 Pro. Windows 8 is the second most derided operating system in 10 years. That top honor goes to Windows Vista. Windows 8 is so unpopular businesses are sticking with Windows XP, scrambling to buy Windows 7-based computers or just waiting for the Windows 10 release next year.

The Surface Pro 3 costs more than an equivalent MacBook Air, comes in parts and pieces, needs help standing up, and ships with Windows 8.1. The Surface Pro 3 cannot replace my laptop — I need my laptop for real work and to last a long time. Check out the MacBook Air and other Macs at http://store.apple.com/us/mac.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple lle.

Posted Nov. 25, 2014

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