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The Microsoft Surface may have not been out very long but the 10-inch competition is already dramatically changing. No longer does the Surface has to compete with only the iPad, there is the Samsung-built Google Nexus 10 thrown in the mix as well.

At the same time, having flagship offerings from Apple, Google and Microsoft is EXCELLENT news for the average consumer.

The big question this holiday season is: “Which is the best 10-inch tablet for my needs?”

While many of those reading this site are probably already set on a Windows tablet, there are many of us that are quite neutral and simply looking for the device that best suites their needs.

Let’s take a look at a direct side-by-side spec chart to get an idea of how the tablets compare:

Microsoft Surface Apple iPad Samsung Nexus 10
Screen Size 10.6 inches 9.7 inches 10 inches
Resolution 1,366 x 768 2,048 x 1,536 2,560 x 1,600
Pixel Density 148 ppi 264 ppi 300 ppi
CPU Nvidia Tegra 3 Quad-core Dual-core A6X 1.3Ghz processor Dual-core A15
Networking Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-Fi and 4G models, Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Storage 32GB or 64GB 16GB, 32GB or 64GB 16GB or 32GB
Connectors USB 2.0, microHDMI Lightning connector microUSB, microHDMI
OS Windows RT iOS 6 Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Battery Life 8 hours 10 hours 9 hours
Camera Two 720p HD cameras 5MP rear camera, VGA front camera 5 MP, main, 1.9 MP front
Weight 1.5 pounds 1.44 or 1.46 pounds 1.33 pounds
Dimensions (WxHxD) 6.7 x 10.8 x 0.37 inches 7.3 x 9.5 x 0.37 inches 263.9 x 177.6 x 8.9 mm
Price Starts at $499 for 32GB model Starts at $499 for 16GB,32GB for $599 Starts at $399 for 16GB, $499 for 32GB

As you can see, all three of these major 10-inchers offer quite a bit of power. I’m not going to go into a ton of “this is better, that is better” stuff here.

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Let’s simply say, when comparing 32GB models ONLY, the Nexus 10 and Surface are the same price while the iPad 4th generation model is $100 more. Overall though, the Nexus 10 starts at the lowest price and might win over those looking for the cheapest offering.

The bottom line is that each of these have their own merits.

Google Nexus 10

With the Nexus 10 you get the best display, 2GB of RAM and tons of apps through the Google Play Store. You also get the cheapest starting price at just $399.

Apple iPad

Whether you are a fan or not, let’s face it: they have a lot of apps. They also have major brand recognition.

As far as power under the hood? Honestly, they aren’t even in the same league as the Nexus 10 and Surface, though.

Sure, the iPad is very sexy and well-designed, but the bottom-line is that the hardware isn’t really what sells iPads: it’s the software (iOS), the apps and the marketing. Whether that’s worth the premium price tag is up to you.

Microsoft Surface

Being a Windows 8 site, there might be a little bias here, but the truth is that there is a lot to love with the Surface. Sure, it doesn’t have as many apps, but it does have a great and unique design, alongside excellent Microsoft Office integration.

It is also worth noting that the Surface not only has 2GB of RAM like the Nexus 10 but it is the ONLY one of these flagship devices to feature a quad-core processor.

Overall, the hardware with the Surface is excellent and thanks to ClearType technology the display isn’t too far behind either— even if it’s not quite as good as the competition from the sounds of it.

Who should buy the Surface RT? Anyone who doesn’t mind being an early adopter and can tough it out as they wait for the apps they are most looking forward to.

If you aren’t an early adapter, you might want to wait a few more months for a 10-inch device or perhaps go for one of the alternatives. Also if you like the Surface but want to use Windows legacy apps, you might want to hold off for the Surface Pro early next year.

For those leaning towards the Microsoft Surface, check out Onuora Amobi’s review for a bit more information and direct impressions.

Summing it Up…

As someone who tries but doesn’t always succeed when it comes to being neutral, I truly think each of these three tablets have quite a bit of appeal. The bottom-line is that you need to decide which one is the closest match for your own tastes and preferences.

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  1. I went to the Microsoft Store over the weekend with the intention of buying a Surface, but walked out without one. After playing with it for 20 minutes, I decided against it. Why? Because the graphics are terrible. I kept trying to talk myself back into it, but I just couldn’t. On top of that, it felt a little too much like a sword (long and skinny) rather than a shield. Just because HD content is 16:9 doesn’t mean the screen of the device needs to be the same ratio. I wound up going with the Kindle Fire HD for just $369.

    • Yeah the price for me has been a problem as well.

      Not sure why Microsoft didn’t sell for cheaper. I’m curious, if the device was $350, might that have changed your mind?

      • I agree. I think the Surface looks like a solid device and I truly believe it will do well at this price– but I would have liked to see a slightly lower starting price to attract those of us that just can’t/wont’ spend $500 or more on an ARM-based tablet. Somewhere around $399 would have certainly been a more appealing price point for me. To each their own, though. 🙂

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