The definitive Microsoft Surface Pro review roundup
The reviews are out! If you’ve been waiting to hear how good or bad the Microsoft Surface Pro is, now’s your chance to see what all the top sites had to say. Check them out below!
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.
The Surface Pro is ultimately the best answer to questions a lot of people haven’t bothered asking yet. That’s different from being extraneous—it’s more like being the girl who shows up 30 minutes early to every party—but it still means the Pro isn’t for everyone. For a lot of you, a thick, superpowered tablet isn’t necessary, and a laptop-like (and laptop-priced) machine that makes it harder to bang out emails, IMs, and tweets while on the couch or in bed is nothing you’re interested in.
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.
I’m not a constant or dedicated Windows user, yet I am very excited about the Pro. It is Microsoft at its best – a pure expression of some computing solution that is more akin, say, to the Xbox 360 than the Dell Adamo. This is not a laptop that looks weird being sold at a premium. Instead it is a hybrid device that works surprisingly well as both a laptop and a tablet. There are obviously trade-offs, but the simplicity of form, the excellent design, and the promising OS make the Surface Pro a real treat – and threat to other manufacturers.
But the Surface Pro is pricey. Because of the storage limitations of the 64GB version, the 128GB model is the only one that really makes sense as a main device. Add a keyboard cover and you’re looking at an investment of at least $1,120. That’s way too much for a tablet, but not entirely out of the question for a super-portable Windows 8 computer with a unique design and fantastic touchscreen.
Microsoft and the Surface have proven the hardest point of all: that a tablet with a funky keyboard cover can replace a regular laptop, or even a desktop PC. The finer points of needing a dock, finding a better price that includes the Type Cover instead of making it a side purchase, and improving battery life — and, maybe, slimming down a bit — will hopefully come in the next iteration. Right now, the Surface Pro works. It’s not the most price-logical Windows 8 PC in the world — for $1,000, I might get an iPad Mini and a cheap Windows 8 laptop instead — but I think a fair number of people are going to end up being Surface Pro fans.
The Surface Pro is a good choice for a niche mobile user, one who is willing to pay $1,000 for the power and robustness of a full Windows computer in a small and very compelling form factor. Many people, however, will likely prefer to get a tablet and buy a separate Windows laptop, so they don’t have to make another compromise.
From a laptop perspective, Surface Pro falls down too. The traditional laptop has a stiff hinge to hold the screen at an angle of your choosing. It is hard to understate the importance of this hinge. I use laptops not just because they’re small and I want something that won’t take lots of space in my home, but because I actually need portable computing. I go to conferences, I stay in hotels, I ride trains, and take planes. My laptop’s hinge means I can comfortably use my laptop with coffee tables, dining tables, the little desks you get in hotel rooms, and wherever else I happen to be.
With a new 128GB iPad with Retina display on the scene, it’s easy to make comparisons between Apple’s tablet and the Surface Pro. In practice, however, they’re very different beasts. The iPad is focused resolutely on the mass market, and if you want one you have to be willing to concede to Apple’s Way: their decision about what apps are worthy of the App Store, their decision about what accessories can be used, their decision about what, exactly, you can do with the tablet you just spent more than a few hundred dollars on. In contrast, the Surface Pro is a paragon of freedom. If you have unusual requests of it, you can probably find the software and/or hardware to achieve them. It is, after all, a touchscreen ultrabook wearing a different costume.
Surface Pro is superior to Surface RT on multiple levels. It’s also the world’s best pure Windows tablet (its keyboard accessories notwithstanding), and the Surface model I recommend. But the Windows 8 hardware universe has changed significantly since the Surface brand launched last October. We have many more options to choose from, and hybrid devices that offer more PC than tablet are looking like the machines that make the smarter compromises.
The Surface Pro is a very cool device, in that it’s neat to use, test, and generally tool around with. However, I cannot imagine making it my main work machine, which is where Microsoft is placing it: in the middle of my desk, hooked up to one of my external displays.