Apple has the goods, Microsoft the vision

Microsoft has an enticing vision of the only-computer-you'd-ever-want. But Apple gives you what you need.

iPad Air: it appears to deliver what Apple promised.
iPad Air: it appears to deliver what Apple promised. Apple

The iPad Air isn't visionary, but it's a strong update. That's good enough for me.

I've been using the Air for the last 24 hours and it does pretty much everything Apple promised: it's faster than the iPad 4 (which I traded in at Verizon), thinner, lighter, better looking, and appears to have equal or better battery life.

That's a tall order considering the challenges of packing a power-hungry 9.7-inch Retina (2,048x1,536) display into a one-pound, 7.5mm-thick package . (And one of the reasons that the iPad Mini Retina is delayed , as the Mini is much smaller but with the same, demanding high-resolution Retina screen.)

And anyone doubting its battery life, should check out Anandtech's claim that the Air delivers 24 hours of battery life as an LTE hotspot on a single charge.

The one quibble I have is that Apple is still offering the same vision of the tablet that it did back in 2010 with the original iPad.

That's where Microsoft and Surface/ Nokia Lumia 2520 come in.

In an interview I had this week with Raj Talluri, a senior VP at Qualcomm, he swore that the Lumia 2520, which runs Windows 8.1 RT, is the only computer he needs. (In the spirit of full disclosure, the 2520 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and Talluri has an early version of the device, which is not yet available to the public. )

"It's the only computer I have with me. It's got a keyboard, it's got Outlook, does Powerpoint...It's pretty much got everything I need," he said, speaking from Asia, where he was traveling.

It's an enticing vision, as Microsoft tried to elaborate on last week .

But one I don't buy into (yet). As I said before, I had a Surface Pro for two months but ultimately sold it because it didn't deliver on the vision: it was a decent laptop but a lousy tablet .

The Lumia looks like it has potential as a hybrid device that may obviate the need (for some people) to carry around two devices -- if you can live with Windows RT, that is. (Note that Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Nokia's mobile device business ).

It's certainly a vision worth pursuing. But for now, I'll stick the with the two-device (one-laptop, one-tablet) paradigm.

Nokia Lumia 2520: the only device you'd need?
Nokia Lumia 2520: the only device you'd need? Nokia
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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