Surface or iPad mini for OneNote?

Many people have been waiting for Surface to be the device for their OneNote notes. They expected it (and still expect) to work perfectly with OneNote as an in-field digital notebook for all their note-taking needs. After all, why not: they both are made by Microsoft and OneNote with Metro interface and the radial menu looks sooo nice.

Let’s see what they say on Twitter:

OneNote is my favorite tool. Cannot wait for my new surface on Friday.

OneNote is hands down my favorite #Office app. Using it on #Surfaceis gonna be sweet!

Waiting for my #surface. Where is my shipped email #Microsoft? Can’t wait to #OneNote on the fly!!

And many many more.

So what would you expect from a portable OneNote experience?

1. Well, it should be portable. What does it mean?

  • Light and small enough to carry it in your bag
  • Nice shape, size and dimensions to hold it with your hands. Handy.
  • Portable also means offline access to anything you did online. And syncing to online when you are back from the woods.
  • Ability to take an instant note as an idea occurs to you.

2. Well, it should be an OneNote experience:

  • Familiar tools and behavior.
  • No differences in page layout and content between desktop and portable versions.
  • Must put reliable here. No good if your notes get lost or inaccessible (even for some time)
  • And I’ll repeat: you should be able to take an instant note anywhere.

Given this criteria, how do MS Surface and iPad mini perform?

Light and small. iPad mini: absolutely. Only iPhone and maybe some Android tablets are smaller. MS Surface: nah.

Nice shape and dimensions. iPad mini: absolutely. MS Surface: weird and controversial. The Verge discussed its weirdness in its review of MS Surface (2335+ comments. Wow).

Offline access and reliability. If you don’t use OneNote Web App, there should be no problem accessing your notes offline on both platforms: OneNote downloads your notes through SkyDrive and stores them on the device. However, many users report that SkyDrive loses their notes or becomes inaccessible sometimes.

Taking an instant note: iPad mini is definitely a better fit when you need to quickly take out your device and record a great idea (when you don’t want it to be public on Twitter). It’s smaller, lighter, more portable, almost fully manageable with one hand.

Familiar tools and consistency on different devices. MS Surface is going to win this battle providing OneNote on Windows 8. MS OneNote for iPad still just fills the gap. That’s why Outline+ exists. It displays your OneNote pages on the iPad exactly as you created them on PC, keeps your notebook structure and downloads entire notebooks, so they can be viewed even without Internet connection. Outline+ will work on iPad mini exactly as on big iPads so we just wait for it to arrive.

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