What Kind of Pro Are You?

On the left, Jason H. with his Surface Pro and, on the right, Mike Blair with this iPad Pro.

A few months ago, two of our awesome project service team members went Pro. What I mean by that is, Mike bought an iPad Pro and Jason H. purchased a Surface Pro. Mike and Jason thought it would be fun to put together an article comparing the two machines. We would title it “A Battle of the Pros.” Fast Forward to our meeting together. Mike and Jason sit across the conference room table with their respective Pros. After talking through several key comparison points, we determined that “What Kind of Pro Are You?” was better fitted. Here’s what we learned.

Tech Specs


According to both Mike and Jason, the speed and quality of their respective Pros are excellent. Mike believes that email is delivered faster to his iPad than to his desktop. Overall, Jason is very happy with the delivery of email to the Surface. He recognizes he uses his machine more traditionally like a computer.


Typically laptops are more expensive than tablets. The capacity of the Surface, however, is very comparable to a desktop and desktops are way more expensive. Jason’s Surface Pro i7 was around $1,700. Mike’s iPad Pro was about $1,000 after the keyboard and Apple Pencil. He also pays monthly to have his iPad connected to cellular service. Here is some more helpful information about whether or not you need cellular (4G) service or not.

Remote Connectivity

Specifically for Mike’s role, Project Manager, he is onsite with clients for the majority of his work week. Connecting remotely to our network proves to be slightly more challenging from an iPad. It is possible with the LTE (or cellular service) model, which is what Mike has. It can eat up a lot of data if you use your own cellular service. However, if there is a guest network available it will save you a ton of data. Mike uses around 1 GB a month. Obviously, Jason does not have any issue with remote connectivity from his laptop. He can login to RDS or through a VPN.


Both machines have 256 GB of storage capacity. Most of the apps that Mike uses are stored in the cloud, such as Office 365, OneNote, SharePoint, and more.  Jason is running virtual machines and backups so his uses way more memory. Mike has used 31 GB of capacity, while Jason has used 90 GB.

Input Method/Ports

Jason’s Pro has a USB, mini display ports which are useful for external memory, printers, and running dual monitors. It also makes it a bit easier to project presentations. It is possible to use an iPad for presentations. Due to the iPad’s limited Lightning port, additional connectors are needed. With Apple Share, Bluetooth, AirTV, and Chromecast, there are other ways to do so but requires current projector technology.

Touch Screen

Jason leaves the keyboard attached to his Surface, using it more as a laptop then a tablet. He doesn’t use the touch screen capability.  Mike, on the other hand, has a keyboard for the iPad but finds the touch screen to be extremely useful. The touch screen is incredibly helpful onsite with clients and taking pictures of their server rooms and using the Apple Pencil to take notes.

Battery Life

Both the Surface and the iPad have excellent battery life. If fully charged, they will run for an entire work day without being connected to power. The battery life of the iPad is about an hour shorter if Cellular services are used rather than Wi-Fi.

Audio and Video

Although the iPad is a smaller machine, it surprisingly has 2 more speakers than the Surface. Jason rarely uses the camera for taking pictures or video. Mike uses the iPad for taking photos while onsite with clients very often. In the beta version of iOS 11, Mike is able to take pictures and send them to the folks back at the office while on the same screen. This multitasking feature will be available in iOS 11 in the Fall.

Available Apps

Windows 10S is coming out soon to mimic the Apple Store to lock down manufacturers to a specific platform and for better license management. Although Mike has access to the App Store, there are not many software development applications available on the iPad. If you are working through a Terminal Server, you are still tied to running two programs.

Security Features

Most portable devices offer the security option to lock the home screen. Both the iPad and Surface Pros offer password and biometrics (i.e. fingerprint) as a means of security. On the Surface, you can set up facial recognition or “Windows Hello.” Take a scanned picture of your face and use it as a way to secure your laptop. Learn more Windows Hello here. We highly recommend that users secure their machines with biometrics, or passwords at minimum.

What Is Your Role?

It really comes down to what you plan to use the Pro for. If you are using it as your only machine to perform multiple tasks, you may consider the Surface Pro. For Jason’s role at Howard Tech, he often needs to run several programs, logs in to several networks, performs extensive software and data tasks. However, if you are not going to use it for work, but want it for gaming, engineering, graphic or web design, a Surface Pro would still be better than a tablet (but not as good as a desktop). If you are truly a mobile person – using it while out on the road, from home, onsite with a client – an iPad may be all you need. Mike uses it for documenting, drawing, site photos, and communications (i.e. email, Skype, etc.). The best thing you can do is to list all of your needs to figure out what kind of Pro you are going to be!

The Pros Favorite Features of Their Pros

Mike loves his iPad Pro because of its portability and its minimal setup. He can travel up to 3 to 4 clients a day, so having a portable machine that can be used to photograph, document, and connect back to his machine at the office is key. He has also found the features iOS 11 (currently in beta) to be extremely useful. These features include split screens, multi-tasking, gestures, and drag & drop.

The combination of flexibility and portability is Jason’s favorite feature of his Surface Pro. When he’s at his desk, it’s a full workstation, especially when he’s connected to 2-24″ monitors and a full-sized keyboard and mouse. When he’s on the road, it’s an ultra-light laptop with enough battery to last an entire day.