iPad Mini, Surface Pro 8, Surface Go 3 and Surface Studio Laptop – Are they good buys?

Recently Apple and Microsoft held events and unveiled some new products. Looking through my educator glasses I thought I’d write about them and try to evaluate if they are good for schools. When I say that, I mean, are they good to buy a whole bunch and give them to teachers, staff and/or students. So let’s dive in.

iPad Mini

No. There you go. The iPad Mini looks great. It probably has good battery life, the screen looks bright and the build quality is solid. In the past the iPad Mini was the “cheap” iPad, so schools bought them and teachers/students liked them. The landscape has now changed. Now schools can buy an iPad Mini for $449 (education discount) but the “cheap” iPad is $309 (education discount).

Concerning schools, the Mini is more powerful, it can use the Apple Pencil 2 and I am sure there are other advantages to the Mini over the cheap iPad, but is it $140/unit worth it? If you ask that to a school then answer is no. They both run the same OS, the same apps, you can use a stylus on the “cheap” iPad but of you’re buying a class set of 30 here is the difference.

  • iPad Mini – $449/unit for 30 units = $13,470 USD
  • “cheap” iPad – $309/unit for 30 units = $9,270 USD

If you continue to scale it up the difference only gets greater.

I wouldn’t buy these for staff because in my experience, they turn into email and Netflix machines more than actual productivity devices.

Microsoft

They unveiled three products. We will start with the cheapest (Surface Go 3) and work up to the most expensive (Microsoft Studio Laptop). There is a lot to like about these new products and some worth discussing but should schools plop down their money to buy their students/teachers any of these devices outright?

No.

Let’s start with the Surface Go 3.

It seems like a step up from the Surface Go 2. This is a Surface device targeted for students and people on the Go (like what I did there?) It looks very similar to the Surface Pro but it is smaller and less powerful. It starts at $399 which might sound very appealing to people, but then add a keyboard for at least $100 and now you are looking at a $500 machine. You can get a mighty fine Chromebook for that money and if you are looking for a Windows laptop at $500 range there are other choices with larger screens.

Let’s jump to the other end of the spectrum – the new Surface Laptop Studio (that is the mouthful).

This is “replacing” the Surfacebook (even though you can still purchase the Surfacebook 3 from its website). The screen doesn’t detach like the Surfacebook, instead it folds down to a presentation mode and then a tablet mode for drawing/note taking. Being that this is a first generation device and that the price starts at $1600 (that doesn’t include the $130 stylus). The price alone makes it a non-starter for your staff/students.

Finally, the one device I think schools might consider. The Surface Pro 8.

The bezels are smaller, it has Thunderbolt and the battery life sounds good. Like all Surface products this is just a little too pricey. The base model with the keyboard and new stylus will run you nearly $1400.

This sounds like a great device, but unless you are desperate for your students/staff to have a great touchscreen and stylus experience I may pass.

So there you have. Four new exciting devices out there for schools to purchase and without laying hands on any of them, I ‘m recommending you all take a pass 🙂

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