Tech

Surface Pro 7 ad meant to mock the iPad Pro lands a weak punch

The products are quite different, but Microsoft tries to compare them.

A Microsoft Surface Pro 7 tablet computer, Signature Type Cover and Surface Pen, taken on October 27, 2019. (Photo by Neil Godwin/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
T3 Magazine/Future/Getty Images

Microsoft yesterday released a new advertisement comparing its Surface Pro 7 tablet-laptop hybrid with Apple’s iPad Pro. Though the company was probably going for the vibe of Apple’s classic “Get a Mac” campaign, viewers clearly weren’t impressed. The ad currently has 1.1 thousand upvotes on YouTube... and 1.6 thousand downvotes.

The flaws within the 30-second spot are pretty clear. Microsoft tries to take jabs at the more popular iPad Pro over minor weaknesses that aren’t very convincing.

Weaksauce — For one, the ad starts by taking aim at the iPad’s lack of a built-in kickstand. The optional Smart Keyboard includes one, however, and if you’re not typing, it doesn’t seem like you’d often need the kickstand anyway.

Microsoft also argues that the Smart Keyboard is too heavy. Without the keyboard attached, the iPad Pro weighs less than the Surface Pro 7, coming in at 1.41 pounds compared to 1.7 pounds. Does the weight difference really matter that much when you’re using the keyboard, considering you’ll likely have it resting on a flat surface? For handheld use, the iPad is lighter.

One place where the advertisement does land a punch is on the port front. The Surface Pro 7 has two USB ports, including one standard USB Type-A port, as compared to the iPad Pro’s single USB-C port. It’s definitely frustrating using dongles, as anyone with a recent iPad or MacBook can attest. The ad also notes that the Surface Pro costs $880 to the iPad Pro’s $1,348 — these price quotes are for similar 12-inch models with keyboard cases included.

Lean into positives — The Surface is a solid lineup of computers from Microsoft, and many people enjoy using them. But they’re a different type of beast than the iPad and shine in different areas. The advertisement itself notes that the Surface Pro 7 runs a full version of Windows with all of its app support while offering some of the convenience of touch input. It uses a slower Intel processor, however, and it’s not a full-on tablet because its interface is better suited for mouse input. And the iPad, meanwhile, has a lightning-fast A12Z chipset and shines as a tablet, but can still feel cumbersome and frustrating due to its limitations as a sandboxed computer that only supports App Store-approved applications.

Many people want to run the full suite of Windows apps and enjoy the Surface Pro for what it is as a tablet-laptop hybrid, while others appreciate the fast performance of the iPad Pro and are fine trading its limitations for a solid tablet interface.

The ad probably would have resonated more if Microsoft instead focused its energy talking up the Surface Pro on its own merits rather than (weakly) trying to take the iPad down a peg. They’re not quite substitutes for one another.