Microsoft Surface Pro review roundup

News Richard Goodwin 13:20, 6 Feb 2013

Does Microsoft have a winner on its hands with the Surface Pro?

Launched in 2012, Microsoft’s Surface tablets were meant to change the way people perceived tablet and PC devices. With Surface you would effectively have both – tablet-like functionality combined with desktop-grade computing. The wait was finally over, Microsoft had done the impossible, and soon you’d be able to dump your laptop and iPad and carry just one device forevermore.

At least, that’s how the theory went. In practice, Microsoft’s Surface concept did not appeal to a great many consumers. Reviews of the Surface RT were mixed - bad in a lot of cases - and shipments were lower than expected during Q4 2012.

Windows 8 – despite some 40 million+ installs – also failed to impress, receiving numerous harsh write-ups.  The platform's Modern UI still divides opinion to this day.

The Surface RT promised a lot but delivered very little. We liked Xbox Music, the portability it afforded us, even with a keyboard attached, and the fact that it shipped with Office 2013 - although on the Surface RT this was far too chuggy.

Shortages of app/game content, however, combined with the Surface RT's inability to run legacy software and its problematic keyboard rendered it fundamentally flawed.

Windows 8, Windows RT, and the Surface RT were not warmly received by the press at large, resulting in poor Surface RT sales. This is why the Surface Pro – officially called the Surface with Windows 8 Pro – needs to succeed. Microsoft's hybrid take on the PC and tablet space needs a shot in the arm. Can the Surface Pro deliver?

Find out what some in the mainstream PC community made of the Surface Pro below:

Promises a lot, but delivers very little

‘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 Verge.

Good – just not good enough

‘We're confident Microsoft will keep refining Windows 8 to make the OS as a whole more seamlessly tablet-friendly, and we look forward to testing the dozens of touch-friendly hybrid and convertible devices due this year, but sadly Microsoft's second tablet doesn't have us reaching for our credit cards. Not quite yet.’ Engadget.

Great concept with great spec…

‘Surface Pro is about as well executed as Microsoft could have made it given the currently available hardware. Its performance is outstanding for a tablet - it’s truly in a class of its own. If I sit down and use Surface Pro as I would an iPad or Android tablet, it delivers an appreciably quicker user experience.

'The beauty of Surface was in its flexibility. The ability to quickly switch between tablet and notebook usage modes, between content consumption and production. Surface Pro really takes that to the next level. It can quickly switch between operating modes just like its predecessor, but it can also double as a full blown notebook or desktop PC. There’s tremendous potential in what Microsoft is trying to do here with Surface Pro.’ Anandtech.

Is a tablet or a PC? Both, well, kind of…

‘The Surface Pro's gutsy design successfully reinvents the Windows 8 laptop by cramming an ultrabook experience into the body of a 10-inch tablet. Those wanting to go all-in on the tablet experience won't regret buying the Surface Pro, but we're holding out for a future, more polished generation of the device.’ CNET.

Surface Pro’s keyboard fails to cut the mustard [again]

‘It’s hard to use the Surface Pro – literally – as a laptop since the screen keeps flopping over if you hold it on your lap or you try to use it lying down (which I admit I sometimes do).

'As a tablet, it works well, although at 2 pounds without a physical keyboard, it’s heavier than the 1.44 pound iPad with Retina display. I like Microsoft’s onscreen keyboard and agree that the Windows 8 tiles interface works well for a touchscreen tablet.'

'While there will be some people who will be able to use the Surface Pro as a laptop replacement, I’m not one of them – at least until the resolve my keyboard issues.’ Forbes.

And, last but not least, the just plain ugly:

‘Lacking in usable storage space. Short on battery life. Non-adjustable kickstand becomes a burden with long-term use. Pricey; you'll need to drop extra money on several accessories (mouse, keyboard cover, external storage). Too hot, heavy and thick to comfortably use as a tablet.’ Wired

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