Choice and competition is a good thing for consumers. So with that in mind there’s never been a better time to invest in a tablet. Apple recently refreshed their iPad with more power and the new lightning connector, Microsoft has finally begun shipping the rather unfortunately named Surface, and now Google has just dived into the 10-inch tablet market with their Nexus 10 – but which one is best? Well, we’re going to try and find out with a gold ol’ fashioned Gaj-it face-off.
The most important aspect of any tablet is, of course, price. It often can be a major factor for many consumers when choosing a tablet. But as with any piece of tech: cheapest doesn’t usually equate to best.
The new premium iPad with Wi-Fi starts at £399 for the 16GB version, £479 for the 32GB version and £559 for the 64GB version. Cellular versions start at £499, £579 and £659.
The new Nexus 10 comes in substantially cheaper than Apple. A 16GB Wi-Fi Nexus 10 will set you back a staggeringly low price of £319 and £389 for the 32GB version. Google doesn’t offer a cellular version, but that might change soon, once 4G has become more established.
Microsoft’s Surface comes in with two storage options: 32GB and 64GB. The 3GB version will set you back £399, but that price jumps by £79 when you buy one of their special touch covers. The 64GB version will cost £559 but can only be bought with a touch cover. Microsoft also doesn’t offer a cellular version of its tablet.
Overall the Nexus 10 offers the best value for money. The Surface and iPad 4 share the same entry level price, but the Surface offers 32GB of storage rather than Apple’s 16GB.
The Nexus 10 comes with access to Google’s Play Store – which has around 700,000 apps, but quite a lot of those still haven’t been designed for tablets. Apple also has around the same amount of apps, but at least 250,000 of theirs have made the jump to iPad and have been optimised for the bigger screen and higher resolution. From November 13, the same day the Nexus 10 goes on sale, UK Nexus users will be able to access the Play Music service, which has previously been US-only and will provide music streaming and library mirroring and matching.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has a lot of catching up to do as there is only around 4,000 Surface apps on its app store, but their tablet does come with several pre-installed apps including Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview (which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote); Windows Mail and Messaging; SkyDrive; Internet Explorer 10; Bing; Xbox Music, Video and Games.
Apple is obviously the clear winner when it comes to content, with Google’s Android as close second and Microsoft a lonely third. But if you’re looking for a tablet with Office capabilities you can’t go wrong with the Surface.
The Nexus 10’s screen is the main selling point for the tablet: its 10-inch panel is running a gargantuan resolution of 2560 x 1600, achieving a class-leading screen resolution of 300ppi. That’s far in excess of Apple’s resolution, which delivers 2048 x 1536 at 264ppi. The Nexus 10 and Microsoft Surface opt for a 16:9 display, perfect for films and games while the iPad screen is 4:3, which is more suitable for web surfing. Unfortunately Microsoft’s Surface has the lowest spec screen of the three tablets and has a meagre resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels via a 10.6-inch display, capable of 5-point multi-touch.
The Nexus 10 sports a dual-core Samsung Exynos processor with a quad-core ARM T604 graphics processor. The iPad has Apple’s own A6X processor, a dual-core design with quad-core graphics. While Microsoft’s Surface RT has the powerful Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 and 2GB RAM.
The Apple iPad 4 comes with the usual storage options: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options. The Nexus 10 come in two different storage flavours 32GB and 64GB, and Microsoft has opted not to do a 16GB version as the OS takes up a 6GB of space.
Cameras, sensors and speakers
The Nexus 10 has a 1.9MP camera on the front and a 5MP camera on the rear, while the iPad 4 has 1.2MP on the front and 5MP on the back. While the iPad cameras are flash-free, the Nexus 10 does have an LED flash. The Nexus 10 has stereo speakers and the iPad 4 has a single speaker. Microsoft’s Surface has two 720p HD LifeCams, one for the front – and one for the rear, it comes with two microphones and stereo speakers.
The Nexus 10 has an accelerometer, a compass, an ambient light sensor and a gyroscope, as does the iPad. The Surface has Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope and a compass.
The Nexus 10 has a 9000mAh battery, promising 9 hours of video or 7 hours of web browsing. Apple reckons you’ll get 10 hours of web, video or music, and nine hours of browsing using mobile phone networks. Microsoft claims “up to 8 hours of battery life” for its Surface tablet, but doesn’t mention in what capacity – whether it’s surfing the web or watching videos.
The Nexus 10 has dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi with MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), but there’s no 3G or 4G version as yet; Apple’s Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad supports both 3G and 4G LTE mobile data.
All iPad 4s also support dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with support for channel bonding to achieve download speeds of up to 150Mbps. Both devices have Bluetooth 4.0, and the Nexus 10 also has NFC for Android Beam.
Microsoft’s Surface comes with support for 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and comes with Bluetooth 4.0.
Dimensions and Weight
The Nexus 10 is 263.9 x 166.6 x 8.9mm and weighs 603g. The iPad 4 is 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm and 652g (662g for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model). The Surface is 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37mm and weighs 680grams. So it’s clear the Nexus 10 is the thinnest and weighs the least. The iPad is slightly heavier and slightly thicker and once again the Surface fairs the worst as it’s the biggest, weighs the most and is the thickest.
Apart from the lightning connector there are no external connections for the iPad 4, the Nexus 10 has a micro-HDMI, dual-side NFC and a micro USB. The Surface has a USB 3.0 port and a mini display port.