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Microsoft Surface Pro Review

Microsoft Surface Pro

Posted: , by John V.



Microsoft Surface Pro Review
Stuffed with ultrabook-like components, we really can't expect battery life on the Surface Pro to exceed those of ARM-based tablets – like its sibling in the Surface RT or iPad 4. Still, with its fully charged battery, we're able to inch out approximately 6 hours of normal usage, which primarily consisted of heavy web surfing and word processing with the brightness set to the 50% mark. Naturally, power users will want to charge this whenever the opportunity arises, but it's well in line with the performance of other similarly spec'd ultrabooks. Worth mentioning, too, is the amount of heat that the rear of the tablet generates during prolonged usage. It's not scalding, but it does make us wonder how it'll affect things over time.


It's been several months after the release of the Surface RT, and it's unknown how well Microsoft's slate was able to penetrate the market, since the Redmond based company hasn't been vocal about actual sales numbers. Regardless, it was something that Microsoft was banking on to take on some of the titans in the industry, but as we've witnessed, its fortunes have been unseen. In fact, the more that it's analyzed, it's fighting competition from tablets running rival platforms – as well from its own group in the Windows RT camp. However, we all knew that it was only a matter of time before the Microsoft Surface Pro would be released.

So, here we are now, in the presence of the fully equipped Surface Pro, which is sporting a higher starting price point of $899 for the 64GB version – while the 128GB model will set you back $999. In our recent history of tablets, those figures would spell instant death, since we normally perceive top-tiered tablets edging out at around the $500 mark. However, this isn't your typical tablet, especially when its guts are more ultrabook-like, which warrants the higher price point. Solely as a tablet, the one advantage it has over its brethren is the rich productivity aspect it offers over the crop – albeit, it's not the only Windows 8 tablet in town. And knowing how quickly things move in the industry, it wouldn't surprise us to find one of Microsoft's many partners to deliver that killer Windows 8 tablet

Despite the competition it's going to see from both sides, tablets and ultrabooks alike, the Microsoft Surface Pro has the brand recognition right now to propel itself above most of the crop. If you're looking for the all-in-one solution, there's no denying that the Surface Pro is intriguing and empowered to handle the needs of power users. Obviously, there are no compromises since it caters to both tablet and PC functions – on top of being a wonderful consumptive device! As we've witnessed, you're paying a premium price for a tablet in the Surface Pro, but what you get is an untethered experience.

In the back of our mind, though, we're torn still whether it proves to be more valuable than some other highly prized ultrabooks on the market, especially when you get physical keyboards, touchscreens, and extensive ports that make them far more versatile. Throwing in the Type Cover, you're looking at a final tally of $1,130 for the Surface Pro, which can score you a killer ultrabook. Still, if portability is placed highest on the totem pole, the Surface Pro easily has the edge over most ultrabooks.

Microsoft Surface Pro Video Review:


  • Full Windows 8 Pro experience
  • Vibrant and sharp looking display
  • Distinctive and solid design
  • Useful pressure sensitive stylus
  • Peppy performance


  • Terrible camera
  • Battery life is less than other tablets
  • Not enough apps make use of the stylus
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posted on 11 Feb 2013, 09:03 30

1. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 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.

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 09:34 5

7. feres13 (Posts: 307; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)

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

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 10:21 6

11. alterecho (Posts: 1099; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

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

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 05:41 5

35. tmcblog (Posts: 19; Member since: 28 Jan 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 :(

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 10:33 5

13. haseebzahid (Posts: 1853; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

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

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 01:31 2

32. theokan (Posts: 4; Member since: 11 Feb 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.

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 03:16

33. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 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.

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 05:05 2

34. theokan (Posts: 4; Member since: 11 Feb 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.


posted on 12 Feb 2013, 06:56

36. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 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.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 10:42

43. theokan (Posts: 4; Member since: 11 Feb 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.

posted on 15 Feb 2013, 09:25 1

47. iami67 (Posts: 321; Member since: 18 Oct 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.

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 18:12

39. ahmed_ali_yossef2010 (Posts: 164; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)

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

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 20:40

40. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 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.

posted on 16 Feb 2013, 15:10 1

48. ralexand56 (Posts: 3; Member since: 16 Feb 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.

posted on 20 Apr 2013, 13:31

54. JimmyMackey (Posts: 5; Member since: 26 Dec 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.

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 09:08 12

2. valapsp (Posts: 562; Member since: 12 Aug 2011)

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

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 09:08 6

3. ajac09 (Posts: 1482; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

but how well does it play crysis? lol

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 09:14 5

4. T00muchF00D (Posts: 98; Member since: 27 Nov 2011)

I bought one here in Orlando

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 09:14 3

5. ultimatebatman (Posts: 52; Member since: 04 Dec 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.

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 09:18 3

6. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 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

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 10:39 11

15. g2a5b0e (Posts: 3823; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)

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.

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 17:59 1

26. papss (unregistered)

Agreed.. Is it a tablet darac? Wow

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 10:08 1

8. androidfurever (banned) (Posts: 48; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

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

posted on 16 Feb 2013, 16:19 1

51. papss (unregistered)

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

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 10:12 2

9. feres13 (Posts: 307; Member since: 23 Dec 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.

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 12:02 7

20. ImQ009 (Posts: 41; Member since: 02 Dec 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.

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 13:21 5

23. Mobile-X-Pert (Posts: 565; Member since: 20 Dec 2010)

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

posted on 11 Feb 2013, 14:25 3

24. freebee269 (Posts: 539; Member since: 10 Aug 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.

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 01:15 2

31. theokan (Posts: 4; Member since: 11 Feb 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.

posted on 12 Feb 2013, 14:04 1

38. Gatorgreat1 (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Feb 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.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display10.6 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels (208 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera1 megapixel
Dual-core, 1700 MHz, Intel Core i5-3317U processor
Size10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches
(275 x 173 x 13 mm)
32.00 oz  (907 g)

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