If you compare Apples and Oranges, at least be thorough

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 12, 2015

Comparisons can be useful in decision making processes. Compare the battery life of various notebooks that you consider buying, Android flagships and their functionality and technology, or how games play and look like on PC and console.

Some comparisons make little sense on the other hand, for instance the comparison of an Android tablet and the iPhone, or a computer mouse to a keyboard.

A recent PC Magazine article compared Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, a typical apples and oranges comparison.

While that is problematic enough, considering that the Surface Pro 3 is a full PC while Apple's iPad Pro a tablet, it appears extremely biased.

For instance, if you check the tech stats box you will notice that the lowest price of Apple's iPad Pro is listed as $799 while the lowest price of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is listed as £993.95 (that is British pound which makes it difficult to compare prices).


This is not the lowest price of the Surface Pro 3 as the article linked to the 256 Gigabyte storage model and not the 64 Gigabyte model that is also available. If you check retail pricing, you will see it listed with a starting price of $799 just like Apple's iPad Pro.

Since the basic Surface Pro 3 model offers 64 Gigabyte of storage space, it offers double the 32 Gigabyte space of Apple's device (which does not even offer a 256 Gigabyte option or a microSD slot to expand storage).

But since storage is not listed in the comparison -- neither are extras such as the Surface's microSD support, USB 3.0 port or mini displayPort -- it is not clear right away that it compares the cheapest iPad Pro with the most expensive Surface Pro 3 model.

It does not stop there though. The Surface Pro 3 ships with a Surface Pen included, while you have to buy the Apple Pencil for $99 extra if you want it.

The author of the article makes it look like as if "both ride the line between tablet and portable laptop". While true for the Surface Pro, it is not for Apple's iPad Pro which still is just a tablet as it cannot run Mac software.

The conclusion of the article strangely reports the correct price for both devices, and compares 128 Gigabyte models with each other.

According to it, the iPad Pro is "slightly more expensive" in the 128 Gigabyte variant with Smart Keyboard Cover and Apple Pencil than the Surface Pro 3 with 128 Gigabyte with keyboard and pen.

The difference? $319 US Dollars ($1029 to $1348).

It is problematic to compare these two device families for a number of reasons. The Surface Pro is a full PC that you can use to run any Windows software, not just apps (opposed to Microsoft's failed Windows RT experiment) while Apple's iPad Pro is still just an iPad supporting apps only.

There is also the fact that the iPad Pro 3 has not been released yet and that some information, memory for instance, have not been revealed yet. Since that is the case, it is impossible to compare battery life for instance.  Microsoft plans to release the Surface 4 Pro this year (next month it appears).

If you compare Apples and Oranges, at least be thorough
Article Name
If you compare Apples and Oranges, at least be thorough
An analysis of a recent apples and oranges comparison in tech journalism.

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  1. fokka said on September 13, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    i wouldn’t say that you can’t compare the two (…computer? tablets??) devices, although as you say, it’s a bit of an apples/oranges thing, but this particular comparison seems to be done very poorly from start to finish.

    listing the dollar price of the entry level SKU of an unreleased product, while showing the pound price of a higher end SKU of the competing product is simply a failure. disregarding extras that are included with one but not the other is another claring misstep in a product comparison. but not even mentioning huge advantages like usb, micro sd, displayport, an optional dock etc makes this just a trainwreck.

    the last point of course it that there will be a _brand new version_ of the surface pro, maybe weeks after the ipad comes out, so comparing the ipad to the surface pro 3 is kinda superfluous from the start.

  2. anon said on September 13, 2015 at 1:11 am

    The iPad Pro is akin to an inferior Surface (Surface RT) with the price tag of a Surface Pro. It’s preposterous.

  3. Dante said on September 12, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Apple fanboys operate on a different realm of reality. And amazingly so does most of the population. Especially those who are fashion led.

  4. Mason said on September 12, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Badly written technical articles are the norm, far beyond the narrow area. of personal computing technology.

    Most professional scientific/academic studies are not only poorly written, but factually incorrect in large part. Popular/mainstream media are far worse. Modern communications technology released a flood of ‘quantity’ but not quality.

    Effective communication is an uncommon, acquired skill– plus one must have the technical subject expertise to even begin properly communicating a specific topic.
    (Likewise, the ability for ‘receivers’ to filter genuine content from all the massive ‘noise’ they encounter daily — is an uncommon, acquired skill)

    You are correct that mass marketing communications are a much different category. Marketing aims to persuade not inform factually. Truth is important only if it happens to support the immediate persuasion objective. Fuzzy reasoning, vague wording, and emotional appeals are more important.

    Objecting to bad writing is generally a futile task. Perhaps best to politely inform individual writers ‘directly’ of significant shortcomings in their output.

    1. ams said on September 13, 2015 at 4:43 am

      Your comment brought to mind the “US navy ship powered by saltwater” {{{news}}} article displayed on Yahoo homepage a while back.

      Lie to me. Tell me I’m beautiful.

  5. Yuliya said on September 12, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Those kind of articles are meant to be read by people who don’t know the difference (from a user stand point of view) between an ARM and an x86 device. You can easily show them a list with some text next to some checkmarks or “not available” and they will chose the device which has the most checkmarks.. because that’s the better deivice, right?

    Lighter, thinner, “it just works”, some marketing b/s (see: retina display) = instabuy

    I always try to tell to anyone not to fall for all this “tablet – notebook replacement” nonsense that’s been lately. Even for social media nothing compares to a desktop browser.. with a proper ad blocker, you need that on those websites, along with other plugins like Flash or Java or whatever people are still using nowadays – I only have Flash plugin installed. That is not to mention basic things like multi-window tabbed browsing, a proper bookmarks manager, etc..

  6. Jupster said on September 12, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Comparing a device that’s over a year old to one that’s brand new seems a skewed head to head right from the start.

    Waiting a month or so and comparing it to the Surface Pro 4, probably a lot fairer.

  7. TheLonePawn said on September 12, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I say this is either fanboyism in favour of Apple or he is clearly partial towards Apple. Even though it is Apple vs oranges I don’t think a tablet OS can compare to a full fledged Desktop OS.

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