Emerging Tech investigate

Surface Pro preview: Triple-play UI is its best innovation

As a hybrid tablet/laptop, Microsoft Surface Pro makes a bold pitch to reinvent the portable PC, but a few big caveats get in the way. Read TechRepublic's product preview.

Photo credit: Microsoft

Over the past six months I've asked a lot of IT professionals, business folks, and technophiles what they think about Microsoft Surface. I asked them whether it could be the kind of work tablet they'd want to use, and whether they expect it to be more friendly to business and IT than the Apple iPad and Android tablets. The responses have been surprisingly optimistic. Very few people have been dismissive of Surface, even though it's fighting from behind in the tablet race.

As I dug deeper with the people who were excited about the Surface, I quickly realized that most of them had very little interest in Surface RT -- the less expensive, ARM-based version of Surface that can't run traditional Windows apps. By far, the most interest -- especially from IT pros and techies -- was focused on Surface Pro, the Microsoft tablet running a full version of Windows 8 on an Intel processor.

As a result, I've been looking forward to taking one for a spin and reporting to the TechRepublic crowd on how it performs. With Surface Pro officially launching on Friday, I can report that I've been trying out a Surface Pro and I can share some of my early observations and conclusions.

As a frame of reference, I've also been using the Surface RT since its launch in October and I've been regularly using the Nexus 7, iPad, and iPad Mini in recent months. In the past I've been pretty skeptical about the usefulness of tablets for general computing. I think tablets have their place for specific tasks and functions and as companion devices, but I think most knowledge workers find that using a tablet as their primary system involves too many compromises.

Of course, Microsoft set out to change that with the Surface. Just in case you get distracted and don't finish reading this post then I'll give you my two quick takeaways on the Surface Pro: It feels like a much more complete version of Surface RT and I can say without hesitation that Surface Pro is capable of doing more than other tablet on the market.

Does that mean I'm ready to make Surface Pro my next laptop, or that I would recommend it as a viable PC alternative for business professionals? Not quite yet.

How's the overall user experience?

I'm not going to get into all of the specs for the Surface Pro or compare its details to the Surface RT or the latest iPad. We do all of that in the full review on ZDNet. Suffice it to say, the Surface Pro is far more powerful than its RT brother, and the iPad, and virtually all Android tablets. But, the tradeoff is an $899 base price and battery life that is much more like a laptop than a tablet. For now, let's veer away from the numbers and feature lists and focus on user experience and how well this thing really works as a product.

The first thing I noticed as soon as I unboxed the Surface Pro is how thick and heavy it is (even thicker and heavier than the Surface RT). We've gotten pretty spoiled in this regard, especially by Apple and Samsung and what they've pulled off in slimming down their products. The weight and thickness of the Surface Pro is much closer to the 11-inch MacBook Air and most 11-inch Ultrabooks than to iPad and Android tablets. Otherwise, it looks and feels very sturdy and has the premium finish of a high-end product.

Both the Touch Cover and the Type Cover that I already had for the Surface RT snapped right into place and started working just as well on the Pro as they do on the RT. With the Surface Pro, I also tested Microsoft's Wedge Touch Mouse (right) since the Pro is a full-blown Windows 8 machine. I was glad I did. It's a handy little mouse (I especially liked the one-finger touch scrolling) and like most Windows operating systems Windows 8 works best when you have quick access to a right-click button.

Once I logged into the Surface Pro with a Windows Live ID, I immediately got many of the settings, accounts, and files that I had already set up on Surface RT. The SkyDrive integration is the highlight of the services experience. It's nearly as simple as Dropbox and has a lot more options.

Surface also attempts to do some social integration with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and a few other services, but the experience is a mixed bag. There are some things that are nicely streamlined, like replying to Facebook comments and Twitter mentions from within the People Hub, but other things like the ways it mixes up social network streams and notifications is a bit awkward. I kept wanting to just see my raw Facebook and Twitter feeds (displayed in Windows 8's minimalist text style), but couldn't find an easy way to do that and so I gave up.

Once you dig in to do some work, that's where Surface Pro really shines. There are native Windows 8 Metro apps for Evernote and Dropbox -- two of the most popular consumer apps that business professionals love -- and you have the whole library of standard Windows apps to draw from and install in Desktop Mode.

Metro apps are very visual and highly usable and I wish there were a lot more of them. If there were, I think it would make the Surface a much more attractive option for average workers. The ability to work with the large catalog of traditional Windows software helps soften the blow, but hardly any of that stuff works well in a multitouch interface. For that reason, I found myself relying pretty heavily on the Type Cover keyboard and the Wedge Touch Mouse for most of the time that I was using the Surface Pro.

That said, one of the most pleasant surprises was how effective it felt to move between the Type Cover/Wedge Mouse and the multitouch screen. There are some things that are faster and more effective with touch -- like scrolling to a specific part of a page or flipping through images -- and there are some things that are more efficient with keyboard and mouse -- like long typing and right-clicking for options -- and the Surface Pro was the first device that gave me the feeling that the future of business productivity will likely include both.

The digital pen for the Surface Pro also works beautifully. It's the most accurate and precise digital pen that I've used. It can draw really thin lines and it draws on the screen precisely where it's supposed to. I've never been a huge fan of pen computing, but this one gave me a sense that I could use this to annotate some stuff and do virtual whiteboarding that could actually be useful as part of my daily work.

That was my biggest lightbulb moment with the Surface -- seeing how it combines a traditional mouse and keyboard experience with multitouch and pen computing in a way that works naturally and integrates the value of all three.

I have other thoughts and observations but I'll sum up them up into a list of the kudos, caveats, and needs. Then, I'll sum up my initial analysis about the Surface Pro.

Photo credit: Microsoft

Kudos

  • Threads the needle between touch, keyboard/mouse, and pen computing
  • Metro interface enhances usability and Metro apps continue to multiply
  • Desktop Mode offers full Windows 8 and its traditional app ecosystem
  • Type Cover, Wedge Touch Mouse, and the included digital pen are excellent accessories

Caveats

  • It's a hybrid that doesn't stand out as a tablet or laptop
  • Battery life is half of most tablets
  • Won't sit in a lap
  • Not very useful in portrait mode
  • Microsoft Office is installed, but costs extra

Needs

  • A tiltable screen that can sit in multiple positions
  • A desktop and laptop docking solution
  • Digital pen should store in the casing
  • Integrated wireless broadband should be an option

Photo credit: Microsoft

Analysis

Surface Pro flirts with greatness, but its caveats could become show-stoppers for a lot of users.

The product brilliantly weaves mouse and keyboard with multitouch and pen computing in ways that feel very effective and useful. When you compare it to other tablets, there's simply a lot more you can do with Surface Pro because of its triple-play interface and its ability to run the full version of Windows 8 in desktop mode.

The problem with Surface Pro is that it's trying to bridge the gap between two products, a laptop and tablet, and it doesn't quite stand out enough at either function. It's lacking a little bit as a tablet and it's lacking a little bit as laptop, so you have to make too many compromises on both sides.

What makes tablets like the iPad and its top competitors useful is their ease-of-use, portability, battery life, and big catalog of third party tablet apps. Surface Pro fails most of those criteria. Its dual personalities of Metro and Desktop Mode are powerful but complicated. It's nearly as heavy as three iPads. Its 4-5 hour battery life means it won't ever make it through a full day without a charge. And, while Surface Pro has all of the native Windows apps, it doesn't have many touch-friendly tablet apps. Even if the Windows 8 tablet platform becomes a developer favorite, it will likely take a couple years to get a critical mass of productive tablet apps.

So, what about thinking of the Surface Pro as more of a laptop replacement? After all, under-the-hood it's more like a MacBook Air or an Ultrabook than a tablet. That's how I spent most of my time with the Surface Pro thinking about it. However, from that perspective, it's a laptop that won't sit in your lap properly (the kickstand tips over). The trackpad on the Type Cover is nice for a tablet but doesn't match the spacious trackpads on the MacBook Air or the best Ultrabooks. And, even some Ultrabooks now offer mobile broadband and much longer battery life than the 4-5 hours you get with Surface Pro.

I can't help thinking that if you want most of the benefits of the triple-play UI and full Windows 8 in Surface Pro then you'd be better off with a product like the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, which has 10 hours of battery life, mobile broadband, an integrated pen, and laptop and desktop docks. The hardware isn't quite as polished, the screen isn't quite as impressive, and the accessories aren't quite as slick, but it starts at $679 and overcomes several of the Surface Pro's shortcomings.

The Surface Pro is one of the most ambitious products I've reviewed. It's trying to do a lot -- ultimately, a little bit too much. But, even if it doesn't sell well, I expect that Surface Pro is going to be remembered as the product that showed us how keyboard/mouse, multitouch, and pen computing can work together in smart and useful ways. And, either Microsoft will fill the gaps in version 2.0 or other products will run with the triple-play UI.

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

53 comments
gregnewm7
gregnewm7

Folks I have been trying to tell people all over the web what the surface Pro is best classified as and can be used as. The Surface pro is simply the best portable computer on the market that can occasionally be used as a tablet computer in other words folks it's a tablet/portable computer hybrid not a Tablet/Laptop hybrid. many years ago before the first laptop was made there were portable computers staring with the Commodore SX 64.you used them on a desk not on your lap. businesses and ordinary people bought and used them until the laptops were made and replaced them. the Surface Pro is the perfect portable computer anyone can easily carry it and set it up on any desk or table to use. you can also use it as a tablet but it's shape and weight make it a tablet you hold for a short period of time. All 16 by 9 tablets 9 inches or more diagonally are not easy to hold vertically but they are better to view wide screen hdtv and movies on.

przh
przh

IMO, the surface will let apple behind, by far, not only because it's live titles, not only because you can actually install aplication in it's desktop mode, not only for it's pen input feature, but the fact that all of these are part of it, sorry mac users, i haven??t seen much change in the interface from the first ipad, (or iphone by the way), that make me feel nice to see the screen, and see, in a glimpse, the world around me has updated. i was a MS deserter, a long time ago, but thanks to the XBOX 360, windows phone, windows 8, and now surface, MS has won back an "i use and recomend"- user.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Enter the PEOPLE tile. On the left will be: Social Me (unread notifications) Whats New (Facebook, Twitter) Touch "What's New" Drag from the top down to expose the hidden bottom menu. Touch "Filter" A pull-down style menu appears. Select either Facebook, Twitter or All depending on which feeds you want to view. Personally, I think that the options should be more touch-oriented and less mouse-and-pointer menu oriented at this step, but that is a design quibble and I'm sure old habits die hard. The problem, Jason, is that you're approaching things from an iOS/Android paradigm where you expect a button to be superimposed over the screen that turns a filter on or off, or to click an onscreen or hardware Menu button that brings up a pull down menu. Which is perfectly reasonable for someone who has been playing with Android and iOS products for the last several years to expect. I just found out how to dig deeply into the News tile and pin favorite sources to the Start screen as live tiles - a very cool feature. Digging into the Modern-UI apps can be a frustrating process, some genuinely do not have features or integration that they *should* have, others have those features but they're buried. It is still a very rough, evolving platform and many of the apps could use significant polish, but there are some very cool features hidden in there, too.

arjayfon
arjayfon

Although the digitizer integrated into the Surface Pro would be a welcomed accessory, at least one viable alternative seems to address most of Surface Pro's short comings while maintaining nearly all the advantages. I am speaking about the Acer W510 with the keyboard option. The initial package can be acquired for around $700 USD. And while it comes standard with the basic Win 8 variant, I upgraded it to Win 8 Pro. Adding a 64 GB Micro SD XD (repartitioned to allow full use) results in a very useful device. Total system cost, about $800. With the keyboard attached, it weighs about as much as a netbook, but when detached the tablet really doesn't seem to weigh all that much more than my wife's iPad and I personally find it more comfortable to hold. The pivot of the keyboard attachment swings all the way back, providing an integrated easel for the tablet making it a nice display. The native Mail client is nicely managing 6 email boxes (including Enterprise Outlook). Office 2010 installed without a hitch as did my CAD software. Internet access required a bit of a learning curve and neither of the Internet Explorer applications worked in all situations, but that was fairly quickly resolved by installing Firefox. Really, the environment is as robust as what you would expect from a Win 8 system. Is this solution as fast as my notebook computer? No, but it certainly weighs less, is actually a lot more portable, and unless you are doing some serious crunching, it appears capable. As an example, being in a hurry one morning, I accidently left my laptop at home and was actually able to work the whole day using the W510 on the guest network at the office. I missed some of the files which were on my laptop but managed to make it through the day by accessing email attachments and cloud storage without suffering all that much. Keystroke errors also increased, but since I normally use a natural keyboard I can say the same when I am typing on the keyboard of my ThinkPad. What is noteable, the combined battery life (keyboard and tablet) was more than sufficient to make it through the day and still have power to stream a video on Netflix that evening without recharging. While this particular solution will ultimately be eclipsed, I think it demonstrates that technology workers unquestionably have viable alternatives to iPad / Android tablets with very little downside. Win 8 Pro tablet computing will be different than using a desktop or full featured laptop/notebook, and it might not be as "popular" with the broad public, but it neatly fills a niche in a way nothing else can.

tHeSmUrF300
tHeSmUrF300

It's important to remember for those that want to use the pen, that the one with Surface Pro isn't your average pen. The palm blocker technology that the pen allows, makes this a lot more useful for note taking than a lot of other tablets.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

It seems like MS is a one trick pony. They keep trying to make everything into a traditional windows computer. I'm just not sure who the market for this device is? It really doesn't complete with an Android tablet or iPad because those are essentially entertainment devices. Nor does it compete with laptops. I think the target consumer is...well, I can't think of anyone... Also, does it seem missleading on MS's part to sell a 64GB device that really only has 23GB of available space? The uneducated may be comparing specs from tablets to this device and not realize they don't even have 1/2 the space advertized. Beyond that its just seems really wacky that the OS has bloated to 41GB. Seems like lipstick on a pig.

TNT
TNT

I think your review was spot on and only got a little muddy when trying to classify the device for comparison. Is it a tablet, or an ultrabook? And your conclusion that there are too many compromises either way really depends on the user. In truth, the Surface Pro is the world most powerful production tablet. As a tablet device it has a stunning everything except native app market (which it doesn't need since it runs millions of Windows apps natively) and poor battery life. Poor battery life is the trade off for the power it brings to bear. I know a lot of people who would trade battery power for productive power. That trade-off would be easier to accept if, as you mentioned, it had a docking station. This is key and I hope MS or a 3rd party will create one. The criticism that it can't be used on your lap, however, is bogus. Try the on-screen keyboard. I wouldn't want to write a novel with it that way, but neither would I want to write a novel with a laptop on my actual lap. It works fantastic in portrait mode too.

BillGates_z
BillGates_z

For twice the price of a decent laptop I can "work" on a teeny weeny screen. YAY!

hkeeter
hkeeter

The Surface Pro, as Jason has stated, is aimed at the business market. This is for people who want a tablet that will allow them on the corporate network and be able to work easily with it and create content. The Surface Pro will do all that, for most corporate users. The high end graphics/engineers will always be tied to a heavy laptop or more likely a high end desktop/workstation. You can't get the size of display and the power in anything light and small. For the remaining users the surface pro has the power to do just about everything else. I do agree that there is a need for a docking station, its a pain to plug mutiple devices into a laptop, a tablet is worse. Now to some of the other comments and Jason gripes. Have we gotten a little spoiled that a 2 lb device is considered heavy? Even small laptops weigh 3.5. Does not sit in the lap well? ummm, its tablet sized hold it in your hand and use the pen. If you are typing on the keyboard sit it on a tray/desk/table! The review seems to have forgoten that one can remove the keyboard/cover. Sure the cost is high, but its relative. As stated, its an ultrabook and thus the price is in the ballpark. So lets get real, MS makes its money selling to the business world. The Surface Pro will give this market a great alternative. It is a device that will easily integrate into the enterprise IT structure (login to domain, be controled by group policies, be patched by WSUS, etc.). It also allows real content creation. Ever try to make a presentation or update a complicated spreadsheet on a tablet? While BYOD has made inroads, who would not rather the company buy the devices they need to do thier job? To those of you who have been complaining that MS does not inovate, why do they need to do that now? The company is close to 40 years old and has more money in the bank than most countries have as annual budgets. With their market share all they have to do is sit back, watch the trends develop and then come in and sell to there huge customer base.

payneo
payneo

Way to stick it out there MS, but how anyone would think this could be a desktop replacement is beyond me. Entry level version is $900.00 and gives you 30 GB if user space? WTH? My thumb drive is 32 GB. So touchpad tablets/convertibles never took off. But this will? Comes with a stylus but you have no place you can attach it. The battery barely makes it 4 hours in testing? An interesting trend I hear from friends with smartphones is how little they now use their computers. Desktop or laptop. And with those who have some kind of tablet, even less attention is paid to the PC. Certainly there is a time and a place for a desktop but I'm afraid this little guy just misses the mark.

ksfrogman
ksfrogman

Metro-like apps will increase in number, but I seriously do not need 700,000 of them. As a productivity device, I need only a few good ones for traveling, social media interacting, and enlarging what my Samsung Phablet does anyways. I like being able to use what my desktop PC does. My Galaxy Note 2, iPad Mini and Macbook Pro are great media consumption devices, especially when I travel. I can watch movies, play music, even do some of my work on the latter. These products have terrific battery life, but the iPad is just my toy. I was hoping this Surface Pro could replace the Apple devices, but it doesn't, because of poor battery life, used up HD space and an OS that is ambiguous as a desktop or tablet. Will MS Office ever be optimized for touch-friendly interaction? Now that would be a game changer! My wish list: 1) Better battery life 2) More HD space 3) More productivity apps (i.e., MS Office Touch) optimized for touch

Slayer_
Slayer_

Basically its an ultra portable laptop that can, if your desperate, be used without the keyboard. The really short cord is the only drawback I see. It will basically mean that it's always on charge until someone wants to use it, then its used for 10 minutes then put back on charge. Or That everyone will have an extension cord on their desk now.

thejokker
thejokker

high powered windows 8 tablets will only get cheaper and cheaper, the battery charges will last longer and longer, and there will be more and more apps. those who complain about first generation limitations are nothing but short-sighted. unless apple responds to microsoft's unification of digital devices they will be a marginalized player in two years.

keith
keith

I would be interested in reading a compare/contrast on the HP ElitePad 900 and the SurfacePro.

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

Well, since this is the nth "almost good" review on surface / windows 8 by former endorsers, this must really be a "very not good" product. I can say that once these "lap-lets" (laptop/tablets) "flop" there will potentially be a supply chain full of cool pieces and parts, so we can look for a new features from surface on other portables. Really disappointed (but not surprised) that these aren't what was promised. at least you don't have to buy an aftermarket fan to keep it running (or do you???)

onlinejimk
onlinejimk

Thanks Jason for a balanced and broad-minded review. I'm reminded of all the flaws that were touted when the iPad first came out. Many short-comings were quickly resolved with third party peripherals -- case, keyboards, dongles, etc. Now, none would argue that the support markets for all things iPad is quite lucrative, as well as symbiotic. Would not this same type of "synergy" be possible in the Surface Pro market? I can easily see a place for the likes of Logitech/Belkin/Kingston et. al. fill the current product gaps of battery extenders, on-lap "tilt-a-whirls", and desktop dockers, while we wait for Surface Pro 2. Happy Computing!

333239
333239

Everyone is so excited about the Surface Pro, which I am sure is great, but did you know that there have been Windows 7 tablets about for a couple of years, which will run Windows 8 quite happily and have basically the same functionality as the Surface Pro? The Surface Pro is merely an evolution of these with hopefully better battery life and generally 'nicer' design, but if you want to try a Pro tablet out on a budget, consider one of these. I've been using one for almost a year, but when it comes to 'proper' work, even serious online shopping, I still want that big screen, keyboard and mouse experience, even if that means simply plugging in an HDMI monitor and a keyboard/mouse USB dongle. For casual browsing, emails and touch games, and of course, portability the tablet is great. I don't expect this view to change with the Surface Pro launch.

BlackNine
BlackNine

I'm sorry, but for a proposed cost of around £750 - £1000, this is a ridiculously overpriced offering. Yes, we should be able to attach it to our corporate networks and use it as a docked PC which can be taken away, but apart from that? The RT is pretty much useless in a corporate environment, again, it's Microsoft at their corporate best. Persuade us that we need it, then stuff us over cost.

graham
graham

Good Article but I am not tempted to change my Surface RT for the Pro version. I have all the benefits that the RT has to offer and I can access to my corporate emails via the mail client. If I want the power of a PC or need to use applications that are not available to RT, I just connect to my Windows 8 PC via VPN and use the Remote Desktop App. This way, I get the best of both worlds.

trashmail
trashmail

Good for MS. Nice work. Still, it sounds like you have described a new laptop with limited battery life and a high price. I'm sure it will do fine in the marketplace... Apple proved lots of people have lots of money they are willing to spend. Over time, concentrated effort on the hardware will improve battery life, and in 5 years, when we have fuel cell batteries, no one will care. Price will probably come down to lower levels when the line differentiates and when volumes go up, too. Meanwhile, its chief appeal will be to IOS/OSX/Android haters and MS Fanbois, and folks stuck in a Win frame of mind. That is a lot of people, though.

neil.postlethwaite
neil.postlethwaite

Ultra Book. You might as well just buy a nice Samsung Touch Ultrabook, and get a double play interface. Better battery life, and the full whack of usable memory.

darkstartito
darkstartito

I seriously got excited when i saw the amount of effort Microsoft has put in for Surface. Like any other company a complete upgrade should include everything that comes under brand standard. Happy to see that Microsoft has done a pretty good job. I was a iPhone user then iPad, then switched to Galaxy S , Galaxy S ii and as a tablet I bought a motorolla Xoom.So from Apple I switched to Google about 2.5 years ago . The problem is, I got sick of Apple and Android after few months. For Apple, (being an enterprise professional) I could not do any of my work stuff. But, thanks to Apple for bringing in such awesome innovation which changed the industry. The problem with Android is, it always felt like a very bulky OS and with lots and lots of security hole.I have used Froyo, GIngerbread , Icecream sandwitch and Jelly bean for little bit. Yes, they have improved but I don't see why this bulky os (just look at what this os needs hardware wise quadcore ? come on give me a break. We can run servers on dual core) should get any enterprise love. I personally think it's probably good only for personal usage.The motorolla Xoom was horriable. The problem with tablet was, most of the apps were built for smaller screens.Liked the idea of widgets but as I said, I liked the idea not the widgets.Oh.. just quickly, I will have to mention XDA-developer, These guys are pretty good. If you are an Android user you should know them. So, I donated my Xoom and Galaxy S II to my brother (year 10) and iPad for my 4 year old son. I thought they are more suitable for that age group. Light browsing, Youtube, Facebook and games that all I could find on those three devices. By then I went back to my HP 2950p with SSD with 6GB Ram with 3ghz i7 and installed windows 8 consumer preview and then Release preview. I have to admit that Windows 8 OS (let's not waste time on taking about the Metro-tiled UI, i found it useful sometimes) is the smoothest OS I've seen in last 4-5 years where I can actually do my proper work. This is exactly why I got so excited when I saw Surface will have a pro version and it really felt like I found my loved one back :-) . I wanted a portable device which would be lighter than my Laptop but I would be able to get some work done in a fly plus, it will have to look cool. Surface pro is the answer. Thank you Microsoft +Windows+ Surface team for putting up the hard work. I don't mind Microsoft update patches because I'm used to it. Also, they showed Apple and Google what and how and guess what? they are realising updates in every three months too. I beleive that nothing is perfect in this world and when it comes to an OS there are always so many things invoved that can always be optimized. So patching is the only option to push it on right?

Panwo1
Panwo1

I agree with a lot of what was said and I am excited about the future of Windows computing. As a first effort this device did well but it is not perfect. One of the benefits of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 over Apple's OSes is that there will be many different hardware devices to choose from. As Jason pointed out there are Lenovo offerings that may be even better than the Surface. The same is true for the phone market. My iPhone 4 has a 3.5" screen. That is too small but now I have the ability to buy an iPhone 5 with a 4" screen. That is not really much of a choice. With Android phones you can choose from 10s of different phones ranging from 3" to 6+". Hopefully the range of hardware for WP8 will expand after MWC. Anyway my point is that for Windows 8 Pro you will have as many choices in hardware from as many different companies as you do for Android phones. That is powerful. There will never be the perfect device that satisfies everyone. Personally I don't care that the Surface Pro won't stand up on my lap, but the screen size (for me) is too small. I probably won't buy this version of the Surface Pro. I will keep watching for the perfect device for me to come out and then get it. In the future I would definitely consider getting a MS Surface product if the specs fit my specific needs.

tHeSmUrF300
tHeSmUrF300

I haven't got to see the Surface Pro yet but we do have the Acer W510 and the Lenevo Tablet 2 and I found the Acer wanting. It's specs aren't that different to the Lenevo (and need to remember both these tablets are way lower spec than the Surface Pro when talking about performance/price) but it always seemed to be slower, nothing ever felt quick about it. We had problems with the touchpad on the W510 keyboard as well (had lag and sometimes didn't respond) but we received a recall notice last week for the keyboard, so at least that problem will be fixed. I did notice the Acer does have a nicer feel to it than the Lenovo. Between the Acer and the Lenovo I would take the Lenovo. Between the Lenovo and Surface Pro....probably the Pro but need to use one first. Also would want to try the Acer W700 before buying a tablet for myself, for personal use.

dhuhtala
dhuhtala

Exactly what I was thinking...the Acer, Samsung, Lenovo and Dell Windows 8 Pro tablets all fill a gap that Microsoft left between the RT and the Pro models. The Atom processor provides enough power to meet most casual business requirements while also providing the legacy application compatibility requirements of Win 8 Pro. They are lighter, more portable and have much longer battery life. Microsoft didn't have this processor available to them when they started designing the Pro - they may have gone the same way. When you consider these models, it is a nice compromise between power and portability.

PaperworkDan
PaperworkDan

A large portion of this used space is a recovery partition - due to being a Windows PC the average consumer WILL mess it up and riddle it with virii due to lack of care so really it's quite necessary.There are easy built in tools right out of the box for even novice users however to move this partition to USB storage etc and reclaim that space. I'm not saying even that would be enough for you personally but hey it's just info! By the way there is somewhere to attach the stylus - It's just external so the actual criticism is that it could be easily knocked off in transit. Just trying to inform..

Slayer_
Slayer_

They have a strange business strategy, they aren't worried about sustainability, they just want lots of products and monopolies, and of course, patents, so they can sue.

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

Keith, the price/performance is a big factor, the other would be the fact that the surface is likely a one off solution don't see surface II. Already major backlash in media except for severe Microsoft Zealots. Kind of unexpected, but refreshing at the same time.

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

Microsoft is trying to come to the party three days late. They are losing DirectX in favor of OpenGL, now trying to make a tablet (what an innovation). There are enough products on the market right now. Microsoft would be better served by perfecting their product for a change. Each version of windows has been the "perfected" version of three iterations old. Problem with what you are saying is that Microsoft doesn't want to play "in" the market, they want to own it. I don't think that is possible anymore. Too many other products and strategies. the market that the surface works for is the same that now use tablets like iPad, Android, etc. three years ago, this would have been innovative, today, it is honestly Sad.

mjpierce
mjpierce

I upgraded my Acer W500 to Windows 8 as soon as it came out. Acer did a great job of supporting Windows 8 on the W500. It's not a replacement for my big, heavy XPS gaming laptop, but it's much more portable. I upgraded the SSD to 128GB.

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

You got it! "Bait and Switch" is really what "freedom to Innovate" means. Microsoft started with a lie, and will eventually fail. They have done good things, and bad things to the industry. I often wonder what "might have been" had "fan boys" not infiltrated IT in the 90's and derailed the computer industry. Most of what Microsoft "innovated" since 2000, was in production by others in the early to mid 1990's. Sure they got computers to the masses, but at what cost?

Hazydave
Hazydave

Computer-wise, this is competing with $500 conventional laptops, and cheaper-still desktops. However, it's basically on-target with the price of other Ultrabooks. Once you realize this is basically just an Ultrabook with detachable keyboard, it starts to make a little more sense. It's absolutely possible to argue about all Ultrabooks being overpriced... I mean, to make an Ultrabook from a laptop, you toss out the optical drive, replace the HDD with an SDD, toss out half the ports and double the price. But for some, that level of portability is worth it. Ages ago, I paid considerably more for a very compact laptop (Fujitsu P1100), back then, the only thing that really had battery life for transatlantic flights. It's kind of silly to compare this to other tablets. Microsoft made it a functional Windows tablet, largely by including the good digitizer ... something that should have worked as well in Windows 7 or previous -- you can drive any version of Windows with a Wacom, you can drive it with this. But two big things with tablets. One, simply put, is that they go all day. I ran my Transformer on battery for an 11.5 hour meeting last week, and had plenty of juice for the three hour ride home (yeah, I had the keyboard available, though I most just used it as a tablet). Given the untethered nature of tablets, you'll find far more applications that are specific to mobile activities, rather than the desktop nature of Windows. The Ultrabook is also a very limited Windows computer, in general. Unless you're a secretary or some other easily satisfied worker-bee, there's no room on these things for a professional complement of applications and data. Too slow for CAD work, not remotely enough storage for video work, etc. Probably fine for management types, who need email, memos, some simple spreadsheets, and a few powerpoint decks. In short, as a specialized Ultrabook, the Surface Pro has an audience, but it's a very niche product. All these Windows fans claiming they'll use this for everything... the same folks, often, who were raving about their fast i7 systems with TB of storage last summer, that's just nonsense.

Patrickgood1
Patrickgood1

Overpriced compared to What? an iPad??? Could I use an iPad as a Desktop? Does it have anywhere near desktop computational capabilities? Are there any desktop app that will run on an iPad. Didn't think so. I actually own an iPad 3 and find it totally useless. And Google??? Good luck with that. Even if I could get past their privacy policy I can not get past an inferior OS. I will be using the Surface Pro as my main Desktop system connect to three 1200x1920 24" displays. I priced building a desktop machine with and i3 mobile processor and no OS and it was about $700 buying the parts from Newegg or Amazon. An i5 mobile processor would add $100 and Windows 8, idk, at least $100? The way I see it the 10" display is free perk. And when I travel for an extended period of time I take my desktop machine with me. Just the side panel to my current Dell desktop weight 7 pounds. I know this because I leave the side panel home so the weight does not go over 50 pounds for the CPU.

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

Well, you pretty much describe the majority of IT senior staff these days (the MS fan boys from the 90's). Lots of reasons for this, namely the ability to admin a server by point and click, rather than reading and understanding. That is what the world is fighting, a mindset dominated by MS Fanboy allegiance (now their kids). Really hard to overcome. Funny thing is Microsoft is supplying the ammo this time. Really thought with all those billions, they'd be able to get a decent battery platform (even a fuel cell). AMAZING FAILURE!

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

With the battery weight, Surface sounds like a "brick" or at best a lugable. Once again, Microsoft drops the ball. Wow!

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

Good "first attempts" work well in markets you control. Trouble is thanks to some severe missteps and delays, the market is not Microsoft's to lose. Quite the contrary. With major dissension (ala Valve heading to Linux) (XBOX under fire by new Nintendo and Sony consoles, DirectX going away, and a host of other victor-less losses by Microsoft, I think Microsoft's future is very much in doubt (they have too much money to go away) but their affect and relevance is likely to be compromised by yet another failure. Any other company with this string of failures would be a S&P 500 candidate. Microsoft can survive this of course, but is this the shape of things to come?

stano360
stano360

How many people use CAD? Very few, there are however a boatload of secretaries, sales, marketing people, HR, etc. Whether it's this tablet or not, Win8 tablets will sell.

stano360
stano360

You need to work on your shopping a little bit. I could build a sweet high end i5 system for that much.

Skruis
Skruis

Just curious...I was hoping to do the same thing ;-)

Hazydave
Hazydave

Then don't build a PC. There's no way on the planet an i3 system costs $700. Here, for example, is an i7 system, complete, for just over $700: http://www.amazon.com/Acer-AME600-UR378-Desktop-Black/dp/B009AAU9TI/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1360156243&sr=1-5&keywords=i7+pc Including Windows 8. That took me 10 seconds to find. There are plenty of uses for an Ultrabook like the Surface Pro, but as a desktop. That's beyond stupid. There are plenty of laptops with the same CPU in the $500 range that would make a far better desktop, as well.

BlackNine
BlackNine

Compared to what we use as desktop machines. We currently buy i5 machines with dual head video and 4gb RAM for 300gbp direct from HP. We can buy i5 laptops for around 500gbp. The surface pro is going to be twice that amount.

PaperworkDan
PaperworkDan

For some reason people compare this to an ipad instead of a laptop. This is a full PC and for some reason reviewers are surprised when business customers are optimistic about the device. Oh yeah and lets not forget the guy you are responding to was simultaneously referring to the price of the pro and the functions of the RT and clearly has no idea what he's talking about. Any I.T pro or business user who needs a laptop for work applications on the move would take this device in a heatbeat. It's a good deal more useful to me than a standard laptop due to the added functionality of a hardware digitizer for stylus input etc.

stano360
stano360

I'm not sure that's an issue, do you ever see anyone holding a full sized iPad up? Hardly ever. It's usually in their lap. This is a multi-function laptop. I just read that it is size neutral anyway, so we will see all sizes of tablets.

stano360
stano360

Valve? That's a major concern of MS? The very fact that you say "Xbox under fire" belies the fact that XBox has stolen the thunder from Sony (even if Sony eventually takes the total sales crown) and the relative failure of Nintendo's new console shows the success of Kinect (which MS has failed to fully leverage). I think that Win8 may very well be looked back on as a milestone in computing. I'm not thrilled with it, but I am thrilled with the limitless number of devices that will run it. To me the problem with this is pricing, I don't know why the used an i5 when it could run easily on an i3 (or less). With this and the RT, they should have come in not just competitive, but giving the competition a kick in the groin. We will see the prices drop (we already are), but why not start strong? In fact, look what that strategy did for the XBox!

Panwo1
Panwo1

They will not be a factor and you will not have to use them. This is truly a day to rejoice

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

If you are a fan boy for microsoft, not nearly as cool.

JJFitz
JJFitz

You are comparing a desktop to a mobile computer. You pay a premium when you need mobile computers because the components have to be smaller. A desktop does not have that same restriction so components are cheaper. Desktops and mobile computers perform different functions. Would you carry your desktop to a meeting? Would you carry it out of the office? Would you use it in an airport while you wait for your flight? Comparing the two devices by price is absurd. I can buy 200 Pez dispensers for 500gbp but if I need a mobile computer, I am not going out to buy Pez nor will I buy a desktop.

IrvineITGuy
IrvineITGuy

There is a lot of good information in these posts but each seems to pick up only on bits and piece and there's an inherent cross-communication of data being presented. First, please note that the Surface Pro, while it has the capability to replace a desktop, may not necessarily be the best option for all users. When I was working as a CAD software designer, high-end graphics and mathematical computational speed for multi-caluculations were essential needs. I am not aware that Microsoft has ever touted such claims about their Surface Pro, and I am sure that there are a number of other industries and user types which would find the current hardware specs of the Surface Pro to be quite inadequate for their daily needs. Here are some points for real Apples-to-Apples comparisions when deciding whether and iPad or Surface Pro suits your needs better: The Apple iPad runs only Apple Apps, not Mac programs; The Surface Pro runs full Microsoft Programs. I have also read articles that say the Surface Pro will still be able to run RT Apps but I currently cannot find a confirmation for that. The basic Microsoft Surface Pro comes with 64GB of storage for a retail price of $899; The basic Apple iPad (with retina display) comes with 16GB of storage for a retail price of $499. If you want to upgrade that model to 64GB it will retail at $699 (the iPad 2 is not availabel in a 64GB option). However, this upgrade still does not open up access for you to run Mac programs on your iPad. Also, the Surface Pro reserves much of the 64GB storage for operational overhead so that only about 30GB remains available for the user but for an additional $100 you can purchase a Surface Pro with 128GB RAM which leaves about 90GB free to the user. iPad (w/Retina display) specs.....................Surface Pro specs weight = 1.44 pounds..................................Weight = 2 pounds 9.5"h x 7.31"w x 0.37" thick.........................10.81"h x 6.81"w x 0.53" thick 9.7" diag display..........................................10.6" diag display 2048 x 1536 resolution................................1920 x 1080 resolution Lightning connector, Micro-SIM..................Full-size USB 3.0, MicroSDXC, and headset ports.......................................headset, mini DisplayPort ports Battery life up to 9 hours............................Battery life up to 4+ hours (Of course, these are just a few key specs of the two units. ) So as you can see there is a trade-off between an app-based "utility" tablet and a PC-based tablet. This is why the Surface Pro is bigger and weighs more (to acomodate PC accessory ports), the resolution is standardized (to conform to PC application needs), the battery life is less (more things going on at the same time), and total user-accessible storage is less (to accomodate the OS resource needs). When deciding "which is better" you need to first ask yourself if you are looking for a tablet which acts like a lighter, more portable version of the laptop or desktop you are accustomed to using... or, are you looking for a tablet which is more recreational in its functions. Yes, there are iPad apps which can emulate functions to those you might find on a laptop or desktop PC but there are many, many more functions and programs which an app-based tablet cannot begin to replace. So the choice really boils down to what do you NEED your tablet to do for you?

JJFitz
JJFitz

would think that this machine is adequate for an architect, engineer, or scientist? - no one but you - I think. Architects and engineers use CAD software and need large screens. Scientists crunch numbers and use modeling software that requires a faster processor, more RAM and powerful graphics. A Surface Pro could be a supplemental computer for architects, engineers, or scientists when they are away from their desk (presentations, note taking, meetings, remote desktop) but it is not for heavy lifting. That's like asking a truck driver if he could "make do" with a mini Cooper.

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

If you are an accountant, or paper pusher, then I agree that this is a good choice. BUT if you actually use a computer for things that are processor intensive, i.e. Architect, Engineer, Scientist, etc. it is meager at best. this form factor doesn't offer a significant reduction in size, weight, or processor speed over a laptop or other notebooks, (so what it runs windows 8). this is a "feel good" idea to try to recapture former glory. will not get past the 4th quarter 2013. Isn't released yet, and already, the tech elite reviewers are dissing it. If the "experts" are split, what about "joe consumer".

PaperworkDan
PaperworkDan

I certainly meant no offense but perhaps my comment was a little harsh - I was spurred by your apparent vitriol based on an assumed price with no apparent reference to what the device is and why it would be. Lets do what everyone else does and compare it to an ipad with a £450 price tag and then consider this is a device that provides that tablet usability and adds on a full laptop/desktop capability and the proper stylus input. If you don't think it's worth the money that's fine but I certainly do. Naturally I'd be over the moon if it were cheaper but I'm considering this as a laptop "with extra" and therefore extra cost. Speculated prices around 750 are a price point we'd be comfortable with when considering replacements for laptops for users though - or in lieu of a desktop replacement. The benefits of having a tablet type device we can properly manage with all our existing tools and suites and the wealth of added value they bring is an extremely enticing prospect. I've tried some business offerings from toshiba etc but they fall short without options for 3g models and no digitizer etc so far so haven't been too impressed.

BlackNine
BlackNine

1. I was not comparing it to an iPad. That was an assumption made by Patrick. 2. The prices are in GBP, not Dollars. for some reason, the pound sign does not work in this forum, that's perhaps where your confusion lies. 3. As for having no idea what I'm talking about, I've been an IT professional for over 20 years.