Saturday, March 2, 2013
Review: Microsoft Surface Pro
Windows 8 in a tabletFantastic penBright touchscreenUp to 2TB expandable storageTouch and Type Cover keyboardsHeavyShorter battery life than RTNo home for the penKickstand can be awkward
We've been waiting for Microsoft Surface Pro for a while. Not just since it was announced last year and through the three months since Surface RT shipped. If you ever saw a Windows tablet PC and wanted one that was done properly, you've been waiting years for Surface Pro with full Windows 8.
It's finally here, or at least, it's on sale in North America, if you're prepared to buy the US$899 (around £593/AU$878) 64GB model rather than the keeps-selling-out US$999 (around £659/AU$975) 128GB one. It's "coming soon" to other territories, including the UK and Australia.
But is it worth the wait? Is it a flying car, a toaster fridge, a compromise too far? Or is it the best of both worlds? What exactly is Surface Pro?
Surface RT is easy to understand; it's Microsoft's ARM tablet for everyone who likes or wants an iPad but needs to use Office and a keyboard. If that's just not enough for you, if you want the full version of Windows 8, Surface Pro promises that in almost the same form factor.
It has the same distinctive look, the same sleek black VaporMg case and the same full-size USB port - but it tweaks the iconic kickstand and the clever magnetic connectors for power and the two tear-off keyboards (Type Cover and Touch Cover both work interchangeably with Surface Pro and RT).
It improves on the 10.6-inch touchscreen of the Surface RT with higher resolution and a digital pen you can use to scribble notes on the screen (and snap into the power port for carrying around), but it still has some of the darkest blacks you'll find on any screen. It's a PC, but it's still a tablet. Do you want it? Depends on what you really want.
If you've seen the Surface RT in the flesh, the Surface Pro looks utterly familiar. The same VaporMg coating over the same sturdy but sleek metal body, the same gently curved corners and wide black bezel, the same subtle Windows logo on the front.
But pick it up and you'll notice the difference straight away. The Surface Pro is thicker - although 13.5mm (0.53 inches) rather than 9.3mm (0.37 inches) isn't exactly bulky - and it's heavier, at 907g (2lbs) rather than 680g (1.5lbs). But the weight is evenly distributed and well balanced so it doesn't feel a lot heavier unless you pick them up side by side.