[quote] I like the original Surface and see it as a tablet with the extra benefit of some Microsoft Office programs. However, I am less enamored with the Surface Pro. It’s too hefty and costly and power-hungry to best the leading tablet, Apple’s full-size iPad. It is also too difficult to use in your lap. It’s something of a tweener — a compromised tablet and a compromised laptop.
The Pro weighs 2 pounds, which is light for a laptop but anvil-like for a tablet. That is almost 40 percent heavier than the weightiest iPad and over 40 percent thicker. I found this bulk made the Surface Pro even clumsier than the RT is to use on my lap with the keyboard cover, even with the kickstand, which works far better on a desk than on one’s knees.[/quote]
[quote] We’re still completely enraptured by the idea of a full-featured device that can properly straddle the disparate domains of lean-forward productivity and lean-back idleness. Sadly, we’re still searching for the perfect device and OS combo that not only manages both tasks, but excels at them. The Surface Pro comes about as close as we’ve yet experienced, but it’s still compromised at both angles of attack. When trying to be productive, we wished we had a proper laptop and, when relaxing on the couch, we wished we had a more finger-friendly desktop interface — though more native Windows 8 apps might solve the problem by keeping us from having to even go there.[/quote]
[quote] Even a well-executed Surface still doesn’t work for me, and I’d bet it doesn’t work for most other people either. It’s really tough to use on anything but a desk, and the wide, 16:9 aspect ratio pretty severely limits its usefulness as a tablet anyway. It’s too big, too fat, and too reliant on its power cable to be a competitive tablet, and it’s too immutable to do everything a laptop needs to do. In its quest to be both, the Surface is really neither. It’s supposed to be freeing, but it just feels limiting.[/quote]
[quote] 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.[/quote]
[quote] In short, this is a great product for anyone who’s already committed to a Microsoft-centric work environment. It isn’t likely to inspire many iPad owners to switch, unless those Apple tablets are in the hands of someone who has been eagerly awaiting an excuse to execute the iTunes ecosystem.
I don’t expect Surface Pro to be a breakout hit for Microsoft. Too many people will have good reasons to say no, at least for now. But it does represent a solid, interesting, adventurous alternative for anyone who wants to spend some quality time today exploring Microsoft’s vision of the future.[/quote]
[quote] Overall, Surface Pro is, like its RT-based predecessor, a compromise of sorts. I argued earlier that the word “compromise” has been contorted to mean something very negative, in the same way that people use terms like “bias” somewhat incorrectly to cast a negative light on opinions they wish to undermine. I can tell you that based on decades of experience testing computing hardware—or what others would incorrectly call “bias”—that Surface Pro is an absolutely wonderful device, one that reaches a nice mix the pragmatic (PC compatibility) and the emotional.
Surface Pro is also not for everyone. And while I and others will endlessly compare this device to Surface RT, given their shared heritage, that comparison is ultimately unfair, since Surface RT isn’t a real computer. No, Surface Pro needs to be compared to the touch-capable Ultrabooks and other Windows 8-based hybrid PCs that are now hitting the market.[/quote]
The Surface Pro hits stores on Feb. 9, with the 64GB model coming in at $899, while the top-of-the-line 128GB version will cost $999.