The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is the best full-sized Windows 8.1 tablet, hands down. It’s powerful and slick, and the experts at TabletPCReview gushed over its hardware.
It’s also expensive, starting at $900. At a time when smaller Windows 8.1 tablets like the Toshiba Encore 8 and Dell Venue 8 Pro are topping out at half that price, the Surface Pro 2 can’t be the only option for those looking for a larger-screen Windows 8.1 tablet, right?
It’s not. There are two others: the $400 HP Omni10, and the $400 (give or take) Asus Transformer Book T100. The Transformer Book is a tablet and keyboard combo, complete with a basic Office software, and is one of the best values in Windows 8.1 hardware as of this writing. It’s fair to compare it to the Surface Pro 2 coupled with a keyboard cover, as a notebook and laptop hybrid.
The experts at TPCR are here to compare tablets to tablets, however. And the question is not whether the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is better than the HP Omni10 (it is), but whether one can get away with the $400 option.
Build and Design
TPCR claimed, “without a doubt, the Surface Pro 2 is an impeccably designed tablet with an equally impressive build quality.” In fact, all the Surface models sport some of the best hardware and designs on the market. The kickstand is incredibly useful, and the ports are all laid out thoughtfully. It’s extremely easy to prop the tablet up and plug in a USB keyboard via the full-sized USB 3.0 input for an impromptu notebook session. Even when no desk is available, the two-step kickstand nicely stabilizes the Surface Pro 2 for literal lap use, and the included active pen can be used for input standing or sitting.
The HP Omni10 has its strengths as well. It’s light, weighing only 1.4 pounds (the Surface Pro 2 tops two pounds), and its smooth graphite finish is “soft and warm,” making it a “joy to hold,” according to TPCR. It does flex a bit when pressed, and would likely lose a slugging match with the Surface Pro 2, but it certainly is one of the better-built tablets on the market.
The Omni10 ports and inputs are a different story. They are located on the bottom edge, while the power button rests on the top. It’s effortless enough to lean the tablet against something, prop it upside down on a table, and plug in a keyboard via the microUSB 2.0 input (this requires a microUSB to full-USB adapter, which can be had for about $5 from Amazon). During testing, TPCR inadvertently pressed the power button against the table, putting the Omni10 to sleep. It happened often enough that it was a hindrance to productivity, and it makes a compelling case for Bluetooth keyboards, which will also work with the Omni10.
TPCR loved the Surface Pro 2’s 10.6-inch, 1920×1080 display, claiming, “While there are more pixel-dense displays out there, few match the output of the Surface Pro 2.”
That includes the HP Omni10, even if it is spec-sheet superior, with 1920×1200 pixels spread across 10.1 inches and a Gorilla Glass 3 panel.
To be fair, the HP Omni10 has decent output, and this is really a case of good vs. excellent; but in a direct comparison, the Surface Pro 2 is brighter, with more effective contrast and more vibrant colors. It also handles glare slightly better, and supports 10 touchpoints and a Wacom pen, while the Omni10 only supports five.
Both tablets run Windows 8.1. The Surface Pro 2 runs the 64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro, while the HP Omni10 tablet relies on the 32-bit Windows 8.1 basic. The differences relate to BitLocker data security, domain support, and remote desktop functionality. This will effect enterprise users mostly, but even casual users can take advantage of the remote desktop feature. Luckily, there are many third-party providers offering the same virtualization services for HP Omni10 users.
The HP Omni10 has one up on the Surface Pro 2 when it comes to Office. It ships with a key for Office Home and Student edition, which features Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, and is missing Outlook, Access, and Publisher. Surface Pro 2 owners are forced to buy Office for themselves.
The HP Omni10 rocks a quad-core Intel Atom Z3770 processor, with a 1.46 GHz to 2.4 GHz clock speed. It’s an Intel fourth-generation Atom processor, codenamed “Bay Trail”, and it’s an impressive chip. Those with memories of sluggish Atom-powered netbooks struggling to run Windows 7 will be pleasantly surprised to see how well the new Atoms handle Windows 8.1 and basic tasks, including movie streaming and simple Office work. It has its limits, however; open too many browser tabs or go heavy on the Excel, and the HP Omni10 will sputter.
The Surface Pro 2 has a fourth-generation Core i5 processor with integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics. The 64GB and 128GB models ship with 4GB of RAM, while the 256GB and 512GB ship with 8GB of RAM. TPCR originally tested the 64GB model with 4GB of RAM, and used it for the comparison.
It’s a powerful machine, and this is not a fair fight, as there is no comparing an Atom processor to a Core. The Core i5 was built for intensive tasks, and the Surface Pro 2 is able to handle just about anything thrown at it, including many high-end games (though it’s limited by the integrated graphics). In fact, TPCR found that the Surface Pro 2 slightly outpaced “many similar Core i5 devices in our standard benchmarks,” owing “to the fact that the Surface Pro 2 is made by Microsoft, and should have flawless driver support.”
The TechnologyGuide Test Lab ran benchmarks comparing the two, and the results tell the story. The HP Omni10 actually scores well against other BayTrail devices like the Venue 8 Pro. It can’t hold a candle to the Surface Pro 2 in terms of performance.
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphic card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall systems performance (higher scores mean better performance):
wPrime processor comparisons (lower score means better performance):
The HP Omni10 has better battery life, which is to be expected as that is a BayTrail strength. But the Surface Pro 2 is no slouch in this area, especially for a Core-powered device.
PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results (higher scores mean better life):
The Surface Pro 2 is an excellent tablet, and it’s an excellent notebook when coupled with a keyboard. It’s the perfect combination of portability and power, and has a design conducive to production.
The HP Omni10 is a decent tablet and a serviceable notebook. It will do in a pinch, but its design ultimately gets in the way of productivity. It requires too many compromises, and it’s simply not a viable alternative to the Surface Pro 2 for day-to-day work.
Those looking for a productive tablet experience for less than the cost of a Pro 2 should consider the Microsoft Surface 2. It ships with Office, including Outlook, and has the same great Surface design, complete with keyboard and full-sized USB port. It runs Windows RT, which might be a deal breaker for some, but at least it starts at $450.