Microsoft Surface Pro Review

Microsoft Surface Pro Review

Dear old Microsoft, were you really teasing us all this time with your Surface RT tablet? When we first laid our eyes on your modernized slate, we were intrigued by how well it seemed to come together – it just had this polarizing aura around it. However, the more we played around with it, the Windows RT experience to be specific, we soon realized that its infancy was primarily holding back the tablet from reaching full stardom. For those who waited out the storm, the timing is finally over, as the highly equipped Microsoft Surface Pro is hitting the scene with its full Windows 8 experience.

No folks, this isn't merely a Surface with Windows 8 slapped on, but rather, there's been a complete overhaul in the hardware department as well – making it a viable competitor to not only some of the titans in the tablet market, but also a killer ultrabook rival as well. Outfitted with components that put it in line to a notebook, this slick looking tablet isn't looking to mess around at all. And for Microsoft, it's surely going to provide the productivity that consumers need, seeing that it has full support for legacy Windows 7 software.

Quite demanding isn't it? Sure, it's a workhorse like any other ultrabook, but some might be enticed by the portability aspect of the Surface Pro – and that's despite the larger size over its sibling in the Surface RT! At the same time, though, it's worth mentioning that it's sporting a higher sticker price too. Throw in the fact that pricing starts at $899.99, it's undoubtedly pricier than other prized tablets like the Apple iPad and Google Nexus 10, but unlike those outstanding tablets, the Surface Pro might attract those who are looking to find the ultimate all-in-one solution.

The package contains:

  • AC wall charger
  • Pressure Sensitive Stylus


Sticking firmly to the design language established by the Microsoft Surface RT, some would be hard pressed to discern many noticeable differences with the design of the Surface Pro. However, there are a few that really stand out – such as the thicker casing (0.53-inches) and heavier feel (32 oz) in the hand. Considering that the Surface Pro is packing along beefier components, it doesn't really surprise us that it's accompanied by some heft, but then again, some might still be thrown off if they're accustomed to the iPad or other Android tablets.

Outfitted with the same slick looking magnesium composite casing from before, more commonly known as “VaporMg,” it gives the tablet that chic modern look to make it stand out from other conventional styles. At the same time, the sturdy materials give a sense of durability that makes its higher cost justified. As much as we appreciate the tablet's impeccable build quality, it definitely feels a bit sharp around the edges. Lastly, there's a recognizable gap in the rear of the tablet that separates the back panel so that air vents are exposed all along its trim. Of course, the design as a whole isn't something we haven't seen before, but it's still a distinctive one nonetheless. Sure, some might be distracted by the larger size over other full-sized tablets, but considering that it's more portable than most laptops, and some ultrabooks out there too, we surely can't complain much about it.

Like before, there's a capacitive Start button positioned directly beneath the display, which fittingly enough brings us back to the Start Screen. Rarely getting noticed, the capacitive button does indeed feature back lighting – giving it a sparkly glow. Meanwhile, above the display, we have a 0.9-megapixel camera and an LED light that shines up to indicate the front-facing camera is active.

Along the tablet's trim, all the components from before are sought out again – these consist of the dedicated power button and microphone on the top edge, volume control, 3.5mm headset jack, and USB 3.0 port on the left edge, microSD card slot, magnetic power connector, and a mini DisplayPort jack on the right side, and finally just the magnetic docking port on the bottom trim. With the latter, it's used in conjunction with either the optional Touch or Type Covers that Microsoft offers with its Surface tablets.

In the rear, the 0.9-megapixel camera is the only item that breaks up the uniform metallic finish – well, there's also the Windows logo slapped on there too. And once again, we're greeted to the familiar kickstand that makes the Surface Pro extremely unique in the tablet spectrum. Indeed, it provides us with the comfort of being able to have a hands-free video watching experience, but it's also needed for typing with either the Touch and Type Covers. Regrettably, we can only type comfortably with the covers on the Surface Pro when it's laid flat on a table. Since the kickstand only adjusts to a single open position, there isn't much flexibility in moving it around for better viewing.

Touch Cover:

Connecting a Touch Cover to the Surface Pro, there's a firm connection between the two – so much so that it requires some force to remove. Naturally, there's an alienating feel the first time using the Touch Cover, since you don't get any tactile response when you tap on a button. Still, after some practice, we find it usable enough to comfortably use, plus, there's a trackpad on there as well for an alternative PC-way of navigating around the platform. For those who yearn for a physical response, the Type Cover offers us a more familiar process with its physical buttons – albeit, it's thicker than the Touch Cover. And finally, we like how Microsoft offers the Touch Cover in a variety of colors and designs, but then again, you'll need to think long and hard about their price points. Specifically, the Touch Covers start at $119.99, with the Limited Edition Touch Covers going for $129.99. Indeed it's expensive, especially when the single black colored Type Cover is selling for $129.99.

Pressure Sensitive Stylus:

Last, but certainly not least, Microsoft throws in one new accessory with the Surface Pro – an S-Pen like pressure sensitive stylus that utilizes Wacom technology and registers 1,024 degrees of pressure sensitivity. Frankly, it mimics the look of a mechanical pencil, which is comfortable with its large size, yet, it's a bit bland looking. On one end, you have the pressure sensitive nub, while on the other, there's an eraser-like flat stub. Along its body, more towards the pointy nub end, there's a narrow button that performs a function similar to pressing the right mouse key, and at the same time, it's how the stylus is attached to the Surface Pro. Unfortunately, it's not something that discretely tucks away – so there's a high possibility of it falling off and being misplaced.

As expected, the stylus works rather well with measuring varying degrees of pressure when using it with the preloaded Fresh Paint app, however, it seems as though the eraser portion is only recognized by Microsoft OneNote 2013. Beyond the obvious functionality of drawing and writing with the stylus, we appreciate how it also acts as a mouse cursor, which comes in handy when using the legacy PC interface on the go.


Giving this “Pro” model some much-needed separation from its sibling, there's a higher resolution 10.6-inch 1920 x 1080 PLS display that remarkably gives the Surface Pro much of its sparkle, and a higher pixel density of 208 ppi. In contrast to the Surface RT's 1366 x 768 resolution display, this is undoubtedly sharper with its visuals, since every single detail has definition – whereas some jagginess was evident with the Surface RT's display. Adding even more pizzazz to its overall appeal, the display is delightfully high-contrast and vivid, which makes it easily viewable in outdoor conditions. Obviously, colors are truly robust with the display's warmer color production too, which are maintained thanks in part to its wide viewing angles – with distortion being evident only at extreme angles.

Sliding our fingers around, the 10-point multi-touch display reacts quite well with various swipes and gestures. Even though the glossy finish makes the display reflective, the strong brightness output tends to minimize those unwanted distractions, but then again, it's a magnet for smudges and finger prints. Luckily, they're easily removed with a quick wipe from a microfiber cloth of some kind. When it comes down to it, the higher resolution display is a welcoming sight, especially after looking at the Surface RT, but in the greater scheme of things, it still doesn't have the same sense of might that's attached to the Google Nexus 10 display.

More content with (Surface Pro)



1. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

To be honest I don't see all the fuss about a $1000 touchscreen windows device when you can get a very decent laptop or Ultrabook for the same price with 10 times the storage, more cable outputs and better battery life, which is not too kind on the Surface Pro. Windows - laptop iOS - tablet Android - phone. That's the way I see the best HW-OS match for portable devices.

7. feres13

Posts: 307; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

I agree with you, however i'd pick Mac OS for laptops since they can tun both windows and OS x

11. alterecho

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

You mean mac hardware, since OS is compatible on it.

35. tmcblog

Posts: 19; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Macbook is sh*t... with the same price I can get a laptop with 2 more cores of processor, twice the memory, twice the storage and better GPU. The best thing is I can play battlefield 3 and have ubuntu OS that can be modified into MacOS X look & feel ;) You can't play Battlefield 3 in Macbook :(

13. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

lame its the best idea any company could think of bringing tablet to real useable form not make toys like ipads and androids

32. theokan

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

@ _Bone_ That's because you already have everything you need. People generally don't buy an SUV if they already have a van. The real question is, if you can only have one device, would you choose the Surface Pro, the Windows laptop, or the iOS tablet? You may not personally choose the Surface Pro, but there is definately a market for it.

33. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

I have a desktop and a phone and considering an inbetweener, but can't see picking up the Pro. Theoretically the W8 tabtop is the ideal device with all-around functionality, but HW requirements take a toll on the price and battery life. So I'm like "wait for the HD Nexus 7 / iPad Mini because they are priced so well, or an updated Nexus 10 for a little more", all great bang for the buck mostly covering my needs. Even at $600 the Pro would face great competition, so where Microsoft succeeded delivering a user-friendly, modern touchscreen OS, they need to enter the competitive price game, because RT sales show that the iPad-Nexus range is spot on with the performance/pricing.

34. theokan

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

The most pricey thing on the Surface Pro is the Wacom tech, which costs $900 just by itself (Cintiq 12WX). Ironically it's the least thing that people care for unless you're a digital artist, then it's the best thing in the world because it's a Cintiq with a built in computer for only $1000. I can see them lowering the price by half just by taking out the Wacom pen feature, but then at that price range they would be competing with their own Surface RT. I think RT should have never happened, they could have released a $500 Surface Pro without the Wacom tech, then a $900 version of Surface Pro with the Wacom for those who needs it in their industry. I would still personally get the $900 version because I'm mostly buying it just for the Wacom. -

36. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Just curious, how much does the Note 10.1's pen feature cost? Actually that's one thing I always admired, to utilize the touchscreen with proper pen tech.

43. theokan

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is also Wacom and works great on Android, only downside is that it can't be used on a PC or Mac, so you can’t take advantage of the Wacom tech for any work and development that’s done on the computer. Right now Wacom sort of owns a monopoly so they get to price their tech based on how badly people need them. Touch upgrade on the 24HD costs $1000 extra, while PC/Mac connectivity is worth much more than on phone/ tablet OS because of the profession industries that require Wacom as a mandatory tool. The Surface Pro will compete with the Wacom Cintiq 12WX, they are very similar except Surface Pro is a full PC whereas Cintiq 12WX is just an input device. If Surface Pro costs any less I don’t think Wacom would have allowed Microsoft to use their tech. They can’t have a cheaper product borrowing their own technology competing with themselves. The Galaxy Note 10.1 and Note 2, on the other hand, don’t compete with Wacom tablets because they run on Android and can’t be used with industry software on PC or Mac, hence you can enjoy a really high quality penabled feature at less than $500. If you don’t absolutely need to run on a PC, the Note 10.1 with the Wacom digitizer is an amazing value.

47. iami67

Posts: 334; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

This is a silly comment. A lot of people who have a van would def be into buying an Suv because they want to upgrade. Granted the suv isnt a lot more expensive and does everything the same. The surgace pro would be a lot better at a more affordable price.

39. ahmed_ali_yossef2010

Posts: 164; Member since: Jul 26, 2012

there is ipad 4 with the same price why didn't any one say you'd better buy an ultrabook

40. nnaatthhaannx2

Posts: 820; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

I'd like to share my opinion: Desktop - Windows (Mac Pro is outdated, I don't need another iMac screen, Mac mini just sucks) Laptop - Macbook Pro (that retina display and the overall build quality is fantastic) Full-sized tablet: iPad (Nexus 10 is just like a landscape N7... it just doesn't work right) Small tablet- Android (This is the tablet size that actually works well on Android) Phone - Android. We all know it.

48. ralexand56

Posts: 3; Member since: Feb 16, 2013

I would rather replace that laptop and tablet with the surface pro which has the added advantage of a excellent digitizer pen. No way you're going to get a ipad and a decent laptop with the surface pro specs for less than $1000.

54. JimmyMackey

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 26, 2012

Granted there are some comparisons that render your point valid, you have to give up some features that I rather like, such as the touch surface, smaller size and full Windows capability in a tablet-like device. I want something more versatile than my iPad, but just as powerful, so I can use it for both my work I do at DISH and entertainment. Now I use my iPad to watch my TV shows by using DISH Anywhere and my DISH Hopper DVR at home. I love it because I can watch TV while I’m on the train, through the internet and get caught up on TV watching when I usually don’t have time at home.

2. valapsp

Posts: 565; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

Now waiting for PhoneArena's Surface Pro giveaway....

3. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

but how well does it play crysis? lol

4. T00muchF00D

Posts: 98; Member since: Nov 27, 2011

I bought one here in Orlando

5. ultimatebatman

Posts: 52; Member since: Dec 04, 2012

I'm not sure why Phone arena is reviewing what is essentially a full PC that detaches from it's keyboard. It's not even fair to compare it side by side with tablets that are 1/2 the price.

6. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

So almost one kilogram of weight isn't a disadvantage for a tablet? It isn't even worth a mention? That's brilliant, John

15. g2a5b0e unregistered

Calling the Surface Pro just a tablet is akin to calling the Galaxy Note 2 just a phone. It's so much more, man. That critique doesn't work for a device that has as much in common with an ultrabook as it does with a tablet.

26. papss unregistered

Agreed.. Is it a tablet darac? Wow

8. androidfurever

Posts: 48; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Well, it's no Nexus 10 which is superior in every way.

51. papss unregistered

Yeah no... You are insane to even write that garbage..

9. feres13

Posts: 307; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

Here's my opinion : First, given it's price this is closer to an ultrabook than a tablet For an ultrabook : it doesn't have a great keyboard, the trackpad of the macbook air is alot better, the air has better I/O and a bigger screen for the same price, not to mention os x can run both windows 8 and os x, making it more flexible, it also has half battery life of the air, and isn't confortable to use on a lap, and is underpowered for me since you can't upgrade anything before or after the purchase (4Gb of ram is a big NO), also in the air you can adjust screen orientation while on the surface you're limited to what the kickstand offers, and all the weight is on the top while the keyboard is paper thin. For a tablet : It has a TERRIBLE battery life, thick, heavy, inconfortable to use in portrait and the ipad shows more in either orientation, the ipad has 300000 apps MADE for it, designed for it that work perfectly, the ipad has also more accessories, and the multimedia ecosystem in far better on the iPad, also the ipad has a better screen and 4G LTE capability.

20. ImQ009

Posts: 41; Member since: Dec 02, 2012

You say the iPad has more apps and more accessories. We all know this isn't true. Don't forget it has a real x86 CPU and USB port.

23. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

Dude, you can attach any keyboard you want and mouse to the MS Surface.

24. freebee269

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 10, 2012

you know what the cool thing about your opinion is? it still sold out in stores and online with microsoft having 1 million ready to sell the first day. that means your opinion isnt shared by alot of people. i still wonder why you feel the need to comment on most surface articles to try to bash the surface. do you get paid by apple to do it? it seems like it. one thing i've learned from our other convo on another surface article, you think your opinion is in the majority, the first weeks sales say it isnt.

31. theokan

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

The way you compare it to an ultrabook separately from a tablet is a form of double standard. The strength of a hybrid is that it combines features from both sides. The iPad doesn't even have a keyboard to be terrible at, and an ultrabook in portrait mode makes even less sense. With the Surface pro, it can transform between the two depending on what works better at a certain task without having to disrupt your workflow by switching devices, or worrying that if both devices can support the same file type. You get to choose from a collection of 20+ years of legacy software development, the iPad store is still an infant in comparison. As far as accessory support, there are really only two kinds; those that support USB and those that don’t. That pretty much separates the best from the worst.

38. Gatorgreat1

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 12, 2013

I just left the apple store and the 11 inch mac book air has a best battery life of 5 hours. Just thought you should know the Pro is actually the same battery life since the demo units were running a loop in the background when the tests were performed.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Surface Pro
  • Display 10.6" 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 1 megapixel
  • Processor Intel Core i5, Dual-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB

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