Forget all about what you have heard about the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8. This week you will see the “non-compromise” computing device from Redmond named Surface Pro. The device is the answer from Microsoft for the modern PC era. A two pounder 10.6” machine that could possibly bridge the narrowing divide between tablet computers and traditional laptops. Lastly, the new Windows 8 OS seems to find the perfect companion for its existence.
So far, I have not found inherent or obvious flaws from the device, however it does not mean a buyer won’t hate it because it does not fit to their particular needs. Even though, the device look similar to usual tablets, there are major differences in appearance and more importantly its use cases. So here are my thoughts:
The Surface Pro comes in 2 models: 64GB and 128GB priced at $900 and $1000 respectively. Since the OS takes up around 40+ GBs, the higher capacity version is a no brainer. A microSD slot can provide additional storage capacity. Another consideration is the keyboard cover. The $130 tactile keyboard seems to be more productive, so go for it if you think you will be lugging this device around and you do need a physical keyboard and a cover. Note that the device comes with a stylus magnetically attached on the side (that you will probably lose after few weeks); without the physical keyboard; luckily, you still have a soft keyboard if it is sufficient when you are on the go. At home, unlike your traditional tablet, the Surface Pro can easily replace your laptop or desktop. Its screen resolution 1920×1800 is among the best but if you already have a larger external monitor and a set of keyboard, mouse [USB or Bluetooth] then you can put them to use with your Surface Pro and perhaps you can postpone that expensive cover for now. The Surface Pro can handle larger resolution when connected to an external monitor, the Surface Pro can act as a Wacom-like drawing pad with its stylus.
Note that the keyboard cover is not usable unless you lay your Surface Pro on.. a table or a desk and the device kickstand allows only one angle.
The Surface Pro is not really a traditional tablet due to few factors such: the device is using a potent desktop-like CPU core ?5 Ivy Bridge from Intel, which draws more current than the ARM based CPUs running on traditional tablets; therefore, it needs a beefier battery; hence it is thicker, heavier and a little noisier with the fans running. The battery only lasts around 4 hours which is good for a short working session at Starbucks otherwise, bring its power brick along. In a recent tech talk, the developers were hinting some additional accessories including perhaps a battery-included cover to overcome the short battery life issue.
Another detail is many of you have asked me why your iPad does not let you watch Flash-based videos. Rest assured, the Surface Pro will let play and watch all Flash-based contents along with all your legacy apps. Just find the way to re-install them with the USB port since there is no CD/DVD drive. And unlike the Surface RT, the Pro version doesn’t come bundled with Microsoft Office. But you know you can rent it now, right? And why not jump to the Windows App store for some new modern UI apps you might like better?
In conclusion, I think we should see the Surface Pro is a new breed of device that is closer to a laptop replacement for both productivity and portability, than a convenient media consume oriented tablet. If you are looking to get a Windows based svelte laptop a la Macbook Air, the Surface Pro might fit the requirements as long as you are OK with the above considerations.