in iPad

Two iPad alternatives: What Looks cool. What doesn’t.

In the last couple of weeks two iPad alternatives have come out running Windows and ChromeOS: the Surface Go 2 and the Lenovo Chromebook Duet.

These two devices share much in common with the iPad lineup and no doubt attract users with similar interests but who aren’t satisfied with what the iPad offers, or who just hate all things Apple.

I try to maintain a neutral stance and stay open to using the best device for me (It’s part of the reason I write so little here now. I have found more situations where a Mac is the best device for me and my work now uses a company mandated PC leading to fewer iPad power user discoveries.) So with that in mind, here are some things that seem interesting (and disappointing) in these two new devices.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

There aren’t many Chromebook tablets now the pixel slate is basically dead (yes, it’s still on sale, but not all the models are and there seem to be no refresh plans)

Still, chromeOS is an interesting option for a tablet. You not only get a full chrome browser capable of running any web app (and a keyboard with a touchpad) but you also get android apps providing tablet specific options and native apps with advantages over their web counter parts.

The size of the device and port options are fairly comporable to the iPad line up with a 10″ screen, a single USB C port and pins for a keyboard accessory. When you consider the starting price of $279 for the 64GB model and $299 for the 128GB model, the lack of features like FaceID might not seem like such a compromise.

I’d really like to get my hands on one to see what the performance is like. Android is not renown for being the best on performance (and is usually solved with giant batteries in phones) but ChromeOS gets great battery life with chrome.

ProCon
PriceMissing some pro features
Full Chrome BrowserAndroid doesn’t have power apps like ferrite/lumafusion pro
USB C at low endOnly a single USB C port

Surface go 2

The Surface go 2 is Microsoft’s updated small, low powered surface device. It also comes in a 10.5″ package and has a USB C port, Keyboard port as well as a MicrosSD card port and the surface connect port. The last item is a proprietary port for the surface line that can work with a few different connectors and docks. It’s good to have another port, but another USB C would certainly be better.

The Go 2 has a new M3 model (which also raises the RAM to 8GB) that should give it better performance, and although it comes with Windows 10 home in S mode, you can unlock the standard windows and run any windows app.

It does come in a tad heavier than the 11″ iPad Pro and while it may be possible to use it as a tablet with the touchscreen keyboard, it’s clearly mainly an extremely portable laptop that you can draw on.

A point worth noting is that while it starts at $399, that doesn’t include the M3, nor a keyboard or pen. I priced up the model I’d want and it came to just over $1000, the same pricing area as an iPad Pro

ProsCons
Can run full desktop OS and pro appsheavier than an iPad
More ports including SD card and headphone jackWindows still isn’t great on mobile
The built-in kickstandWorse performance compared to iPad Pro

Lessons for Apple?

Apple clearly has been looking at the Surface (or the same things the Surface team have) and been inspired. The iPad Pro line and Surface line as a whole increasingly look similar. The iPad still works as the best tablet thanks to its mobile foundation, but it could still learn a trick or two from these more desktop focused options.

Adding an additional port, perhaps an SD card reader as well (one can dream), extending touchpad and mouse support and how the iPad works with an external display would really add make the iPad lead in every criteria (except money).

I can certainly see the logical reasons why someone would choose one of these rival devices (and illogical ones to. “Ergh! Apple EVIL!”). I’m grateful to see different options but the iPad still wins for me.