#1 Posted by Downloaded (178 posts) -

Hey GB,

With Christmas coming soon, I've started thinking about gift options, and I think this year my mom, sister and I want to chip in together and get my dad a new portable computing device. He has not gotten a new computer since probably the late 90's/early 00's, and he never asks for anything for Christmas. My entire family now has MacBook Pros (except him), and we can tell that he sort of wishes he had one, too. Unfortunately, money is tight at the moment and MacBooks are expensive...the cheapest option available on Apple's site is a refurbished Core 2 Duo Air with Mountain Lion installed for about $670. I am all for buying refurbished Apple products, as they are generally good as new, but that's still pretty pricey for somewhat dated hardware. The next option up is a refurb Core i5 Air for about $750, which would be fine but it's still the 11" model and my dad has pretty big hands/is getting older- I am not sure the keyboard will fit him or that he'll be able to see what he is working on. The cheapest viable option I can think of would be the 13" Core i5 Air for about $920 but that's getting pretty expensive.

My dad is pretty much over Windows as an OS (he has had a lot of trouble in the past), so I'd like to leave a cheap Windows laptop as the last possible option, though the recently released Surface seems like it could fit the bill perfectly. As someone who has not had a chance to fiddle with one yet, it looks sleek and capable (and supposedly comes preinstalled with Office?), and the keyboard/screen cover is a neat feature. On the MS website they've done a pretty terrible job of advertising what comes with the Windows RT device. Does anyone know what comes in the $499 package? Is the keyboard/cover included? How about Office applications? Is the device even worth the price? My father needs something that will allow him to browse the web, respond to emails, and work on Word/Excel files without hassle (which makes me think the iPad is out of the question), and the simpler the interface, the happier he will be. Can anyone here attest to the quality of the Surface or the usefulness of 11" vs. 13" MacBook Airs? Or even the iPad as a proper computer replacement?

Thanks very much for the help!

#2 Posted by SpartyOn (500 posts) -

I can tell you the iPad is absolutely not a proper computer replacement. That being said, it can serve as a replacement for those that don't use everything a computer has to offer. For instance, if all your dad does on his computer is stream video or visit simple websites (facebook, cnn etc), and email then an iPad would be fine. If he uses Excel/Word for work, then I'd say that would get annoying fast on an iPad.

As for the Surface:

Surface Review

Honestly with buying a gift that pricey, I've always found the best course of action is to ask the individual you're buying it for what they want and help them decide. That's a big gift that he'll keep and use for a long time so his input is probably more important than keeping the secret.

#3 Posted by clush (416 posts) -

Office 2013 comes with any Windows RT tablet. Also the keyboard comes with the thing on most editions. The only thing to look out for is that if you get the RT Surface as opposed to the Windows 8 surface is that you won't be able to run desktop apps on RT. RT uses the new windows store exclusively.

My 2 cents: the new windows tablets look effin sexy. The keyboard alone would make me choose it over an iPad. Just don't expect there to be as wide a selection of apps for the time being.

#4 Posted by FlarePhoenix (420 posts) -

I'm fairly sure the keyboard size doesn't really change that much between the different size macbooks. I know between the 13inch and the 15inch they are the same (the 15inch uses the extra space to have bigger speakers).

#5 Posted by Downloaded (178 posts) -

@SpartyOn: Thanks for the Surface review. I'll check it out. I agree that most of the time these are things you should ask the person about, but I am sure my dad would be stubborn and say he doesn't want anything, even if he really does. Though it would be a nice, cheap alternative, I think you are right that the iPad wouldn't work, as he does need to do proper word processing on occasion, and he emails a lot which might get annoying without a physical keyboard.

In the past he has always bought large laptops and then hooked them up to external monitors because he still felt the screen was too small, which makes me wary of the Surface and 11" Airs...though he could probably adjust if we took that route. I'll do some more research to see which Surface models come with the keyboard cover and then do a final price comparison. One attractive feature of the Surface is that it comes with Office preinstalled (anyone know if Office 2013 Preview is fully-featured or just a demo?), which cuts costs further.

#6 Edited by MAGZine (437 posts) -

@Downloaded: 32 gb surface: $499, no touch cover

32gb surface, touch cover: $599

64gb surface, touch cover: $699

touch cover $ 130

type cover: $140

Office is a full beta version afaik