Final Words

Surface Pro is about as well executed as Microsoft could have made it given the currently available hardware. Its performance is outstanding for a tablet - it’s truly in a class of its own. If I sit down and use Surface Pro as I would an iPad or Android tablet, it delivers an appreciably quicker user experience. Apple does get fairly close in some cases on far slower hardware, which should concern Microsoft quite a bit should Apple ever choose to go ahead and build a tablet/notebook convergence device of its own. But overall, there’s just not a faster tablet on the market. It’s really the combination of a very fast CPU and very fast storage that enable such great performance out of Surface Pro.

The beauty of Surface was in its flexibility. The ability to quickly switch between tablet and notebook usage modes, between content consumption and production. Surface Pro really takes that to the next level. It can quickly switch between operating modes just like its predecessor, but it can also double as a full blown notebook or desktop PC. There’s tremendous potential in what Microsoft is trying to do here with Surface Pro.

The inclusion of a Wacom powered digital pen is interesting for the creative professionals out there. My only complaint there is the lack of mouse tracking for the pen, it can only be used in pen mode, but if that’s something you’re ok with then I can see the pen being a good solution to consolidating tablet, notebook and Wacom tablet into a single device for use on the road.

The downsides are obvious. Compared to an iPad or Nexus 10, Surface Pro’s battery life is abysmal. Compared to other Ultrabooks it’s not too bad, but for Surface to succeed it really needs to do well in both spaces. Haswell is part of the solution to this problem, but we’re still talking about waiting until the end of the year before Microsoft can realistically integrate that.

Surface Pro is also considerably thicker and heavier than any popular ARM tablet on the market. Even Surface RT feels like a pleasure to hold after working with Surface Pro for a while. If you’re coming from an ARM based tablet, you’re not going to be happy with Surface Pro’s weight. If however you’re coming from the perspective of a notebook user, it’s not bad at all. Once again, with lower power hardware I see Microsoft being able to minimize this - but that’s a topic for Surface 2 Pro.

My only complaint on the pricing front has to do with the fact that Microsoft won’t throw in one of its keyboard covers with the $899/$999 MSRP. I feel strongly that the Type Cover should be bundled with Surface Pro, or perhaps at least offered at a considerable discount.

At the end of the day I found it difficult to recommend Surface RT because I knew faster hardware was less than a year away. Surface Pro is an easier recommendation simply because you don’t have to wait for the Windows ecosystem to mature, you can already run all of your existing PC apps on the platform and it’s competitive with other Ultrabooks in terms of performance. If you’re shopping for an Ultrabook today and want that tablet experience as well, Surface Pro really is the best and only choice on the market. If however you do a lot of typing in your lap and in weird positions, a conventional notebook is better suited for you. The same goes for if you’re considering a tablet for reasons like all-day battery life or having something that’s super thin and light. Surface Pro is probably the best foot forward towards converging those two usage models, but it’s not perfect for everyone yet.

I still believe Microsoft has the right idea here. It just needs some more iterations.

Battery Life: The Downside
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  • ghost03 - Monday, February 11, 2013 - link

    Most of what you say is accurate, but I disagree that this can be compared to the MacBook Air (or any ultra book for that matter.)

    A key feature of laptops is that they function on your ...lap... (or other surfaces which are not flat or angled.) Juggling the kickstand and the hinged keyboard is cumbersome at best for most non ideal use scenarios. And frankly, if I am set up with a flat table and room to work, I hope I have my 15" notebook with me.

    This is an attempt to satisfy too many interests--likely a victim of design by committee--and it is not a product that I can see many people enjoy using.
    Reply
  • utdcometsoccer - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - link

    I've used it some and I found it was a joy to work with! Also, strangely the dual use design - tablet and laptop suits me because I don't want to carry a tablet and a laptop if I don't have to. Reply
  • rburnham - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    Agreed. Seeing it compared to ARM tablets seems unfair in the context of this article. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    Agreed. It's basically the upgrade from the Tablet PC's before the IPAD was born. I still have a Motion Tablet PC (LS800) in my office and the only reason I don't have Win8 installed on it is the screen resolution limit. The Motion Tablet PC resolution is a very small/old 800 x 600.

    I like the fact that Anand did a dual comparison between today's tablets and ultra-books for the Surface-pro. Regarding the issues on lap use, I believe the addition of a keyboard dock similar tot he transformer would allow the Surface to convert between being a tablet and ultra book when the user needed/wanted.

    All in all, I think MS has a good start. Now with newer/smaller CPU's from Intel or AMD (if they can get their die smaller) will allow MS to be even more competitive.

    At the end of the day, each consumer has to figure/know what their needs are to select the right tool for them. Tablets are great for content, but still very limited to APPs. A tablet that can run full programs for those needing that kind of flexibility stands above Android and IOS devices.
    Reply
  • AssBall - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - link

    Possibly a little more in depth than need be for the target demographic. Reply
  • AssBall - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - link

    On second thought though, that's exactly the kind of info that makes the target market drool. Reply
  • PsychoPif - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    It's exactly for those kind of insight that I come here. If I wanted an half assed job, I'd read the engadget review. Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Right on. Reply
  • mmrezaie - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    but I still like to know gpu comparison between this and iPad 4. Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    Stupid comment is stupid. Go back to Engadget or the Verge. Reply

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