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Microsoft Handhelds Windows

Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the evaluating-the-turducken-of-modern-computing dept.
The release date is approaching for Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet, and reviews for the new device have started appearing. The Surface Pro differs from the Surface in that it runs a full version of Windows 8 Pro, rather than the tablet-centric Windows RT. It also has much beefier hardware specs: 4GB RAM, an Intel Core i5 CPU, and a full HD display with 10-point multitouch. Ars describes it as having the expected good performance at the expected costs of heat, noise, and battery life. "This is not an all-day machine. Surface RT probably is. But Surface Pro is not." The review praises the screen and the stylus, but points out some odd scaling issues as well. The Verge's review also mentions the scaling, and notes the strangeness of dealing with issues inherent to a Windows desktop OS — like antivirus — on a tablet. BGR looks at the big picture, calling the Surface Pro Microsoft's "declaration of war" on its hardware partners. All three reviews dwell on how the Surface Pro exists at the intersection of laptop and tablet, and doesn't quite fulfill either role. Ars says, "From the tablet perspective, Surface Pro is not acceptable. It gets too hot for a hand-held device, its battery life is woefully inadequate, and it's too thick and heavy to be comfortable to hand hold for long sessions. ... 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. ... In practice, the Surface RT and Surface Pro have a bigger footprint on my lap even than my old 15-inch MacBook Pro. And if I move a little, whomp, the screen drops off the back of my knees and folds out of sight." The Verge adds, "The real dealbreaker for me was that it's just unusable in my most common position — sitting on my couch, feet on the coffee table, with the computer on my lap."
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Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive

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  • Can I just ask (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theRunicBard (2662581) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:27AM (#42807449)
    Why not buy a laptop? They weigh 5 lbs... that's light. They're usable. They run all the software desktops run because they're the same thing. Battery life can reach 6-10 hours depending on OS and model. They come with a USB port (Nexus 7 complaint).
  • by Threni (635302) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:36AM (#42807503)

    No, it's a heavy, non-portable tablet with poor battery life and a requirement for virus checkers, rebooting after installation, frequent security updates, and a bizarre, unintuitive OS.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:37AM (#42807513)
    The issue with the surface is, it isn't a tablet and it isn't a laptop. For the price of it, you can get an awesome ultrabook. You can also get a comparable tablet for a lot less.

    I think people want a tablet that they can use a keyboard on, but I don't think that this is it. MS has tried for over a decade to convince us it's was of doing a tablet is the right way - and it has been a failure.

    I haven't seen any enterprises adopting them, so I am unsure where they actually plan to sell them

    I don't think the surface is a "bad idea" it is just terribly executed.
  • Compromise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:46AM (#42807549)

    I can't help thinking Microsoft still doesn't really get design. They talked a lot ahead of the launch of this device about the fact that their goal was a design without compromise - see this for example http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/08/31/designing-for-metro-style-and-the-desktop.aspx

    But what the mean by no compromise is entirely different from what Apple means by no compromise. Apple designed the iPad to be the a compromise-free tablet - the best *tablet* they could come up with. And it was, and is a brilliant tablet. What it isn't is a laptop. Microsoft's idea of no compromise is a device that can be both a laptop and a tablet. What you end up with is an entirely compromised product - too heavy and power hungry to be any use as a tablet, it is also impossible to use on your lap making it an entirely rubbish laptop.

    Every review I've seen says the same thing:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324900204578285963270503862.html?mod=djemptech_t
    "It’s too hefty and costly and power-hungry to best the leading tablet, Apple’s full-size iPad. It is also too difficult to use in your lap."

    http://www.engadget.com/2013/02/05/microsoft-surface-pro-review/
    "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"

    http://techland.time.com/2013/02/05/review-microsoft-surface-pro-the-surface-thats-more-pc-than-tablet/
    "It’s bulkier than Surface RT because its components require more interior space. Microsoft’s stated battery life is five hours, compared to eight for Surface RT. Even the AC adapter is portlier."

  • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:47AM (#42807555)

    And it's main selling point it the fact that it's two inferior devices in one.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:47AM (#42807561)

    There's a key difference: Google devices are built by partners, though they are marketed (badly) by Google. Surface devices are built directly by MS.

  • Re:Can I just ask (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:50AM (#42807573) Homepage

    I can think of 3 reasons why not:
    1. OMG, shiny!
    2. Apple did it, so it must be awesome!
    3. All those executives bought them, and they can't all be wrong, right?

    Now, of course, none of those are good reasons, but this is all about marketing, and marketing doesn't aim for good reasons.

  • Re:Can I just ask (Score:5, Insightful)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:55AM (#42807629)

    Why not buy a laptop?

    Indeed - especially with all those nice ultrabooks around that are barely bigger, heavier or more expensive than this.

    This device does not exist because there is a need or demand for a tablet-laptop halfbreed. It exists because Microsoft's only hope of breaking into the tablet market is to convince people that they need a tablet that can run legacy Windows apps. That's the only USP that Microsoft can offer, arriving this late to the party.

    Yet all the evidence from the success of the iPad and the failure of WIndows Tablet Edition points to the contrary: a tablet has less functionality than a laptop by design and what people need is software that has been designed from the ground up for touchscreen use.

    Of course, Microsoft has a lot of marketing clout and are big enough to survive a few false starts, so I wouldn't count them out just yet. If they were like any other company they'd have been bankrupted by Vista and the Office Ribbon.

  • by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:58AM (#42807643) Homepage
    But what's a tablet, besides a giant cell phone that doesn't make calls,is much too large to fit in a pocket, and with terrible battery life, or a tiny, unwieldy, badly crippled laptop?
  • Re:+1 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:01AM (#42807673)

    Oh give me a break, Dynabook? Is this Microsoft "marketing" in action? Yes Yes I know the term came somewhere else, but I am doing a jab. I happen to own a tablet (Android and iPad), smart phone (iPhone and Android), and computers (OSX and Linux). The reality of the matter is that the Surface Pro is NOT a device to get things done. It is not a device to program, unless you edit with a text editor, and don't want to compile and debug. I have gone through many of these iterations and the reality is that all of these devices are separate devices. The idea that Microsoft thinks you can create an all in one is just plain stupid.

    I have bought more hardware than most and owned my first laptop in 1991. And the reality is that it is like NoSQL databases, where you can have two of three attributes, not all. So you can either have battery and power, but not lightweight ease of carry. Or you can have lightweight and battery, but not power. Only Microsoft would create a half arsed job to try and create something with all three. In fact if I had to critique Microsoft it is their lunatic attitude that you can create software that follows the 80/20 rule and still be cool.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:10AM (#42807763)

    40C degrees (or 104F) is colder than your bath water

    True. However you don't want a 104F notebook sitting on your lap. It makes you sweat quite a bit and is uncomfortable. It absolutely won't burn your or anything like that. But it sucks to have a machine that warm on your lap.

  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@CHEETAHnexusuk.org minus cat> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:14AM (#42807793) Homepage

    and you'll find that people no longer have PCs at the office, they've got 'surface pro 3' with full blown M$ Office on it - and by that time it will run 10 hours on a charge.

    From what I've seen, I'm sure some technology execs are smoking the same thing you are. However, I see no point in the future where a tablet is going to replace my workstation. I can see myself having a tablet to augment my workstation (e.g. having manuals on a tablet instead of on paper), but the actual work is always going to be done on a proper computer.

  • by bfandreas (603438) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:21AM (#42807865)
    The hardware is interesting. But...
    -it's got the battery life of a laptop
    -it weighs as much as an ultrabook
    -it doesn't have a proper keyboard
    -you can't balance it on your lap
    -it's too heavy to hold in one hand
    -it's got a full blown wasteful Windows installation that eats greatly into the available disk space
    -has cooling vents

    To me that reads: all the drawbacks of both a laptop and a tablet

    It propably is an amazing piece of kit and I honestly want something like that more than my next breath. But I would have preferred if they had gone the way Asus went with the Transformer line. Detachable clamshell keyboard with an extra battery. No need for a sleeve. Does not tip over as easily. All the benefits of a laptop and a tablet. Should have been a winner. Maybe the next batch.
    Also I'm not quite sure about the choice of CPU.

    I love the convergence of tablet and laptop. That is a truly, truly great thing. But normal laptop innards conveniently rearranged will not quite cut it. We are currently moving away from the old Intel x86 architecture and into happy RISC land for a reason. My Transformer has replaced my notebook for all but heavy typing and dev work. For everything else I actually prefer the plucky little bugger and take only that with me on business trips. No worries.
  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:24AM (#42807909)

    A tablet with an Intel i5 CPU, HD4000 GPU and 4GB of RAM for less money, even without the digitiser? Pray, do enlighten us.

    Absolutely the quieter, cooler, more portable, with an efficient CPU Nexus 7 for a sixth of the price.

  • Even Better. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tuppe666 (904118) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:51AM (#42808251)

    How does the Nexus perform running PhotoShop? What's its multitasking capabilties like? Does it support USB 3.0? Storage expansion options? Etc. Etc.

    It multi-tasks great, In fact far better than the crippled Metro interface. In fact I have a large variety of photo editing programs suitable for quick editing on the move. I do design work on the 23" screen Desktop. With which I have networked to my Nexus, Which has available about 30GB and 100GB in the cloud,...again for about a sixth of the price, and has longer lasting battery, more portable, and has more mobile applications available for it, with a consistent popular (soon to be the most popular) OS.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:15AM (#42808525)

    It isn't a laptop and you aren't going to use it as a laptop.

    But the fanboys keep saying 'hey, this is great, I can use it as a tablet and a laptop'.

    Sure, it has a keyboard, but if you're sitting on the couch with you feet up, you'd be using it in tablet mode.

    Unless you want to do actual work with it, as you would with a laptop.

    But I'm not going to use the Surface keyboard cover as my keyboard because it doesn't provide the laptop clamshell footprint --- which works quite well.

    So, uh, why buy one when there are much better tablets available for less?

  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:28AM (#42808659)

    Ever hear that old joke that a camel is a horse designed by committee? Surface is the new horse. It's not quite a tablet, it's not quite a laptop, it's not quite...I don't know what the hell it is I just know I don't want one. It's too hot, it's too heavy, the battery life sucks (compared to an iPad anyhow), and it's way too expensive. If I wanted to run old Windows programs then why not just get a laptop at about half the price and not have to deal with the overheating issues? This thing is DOA.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:07AM (#42809177) Homepage Journal

    40C degrees (or 104F) is colder than your bath water

    True. However you don't want a 104F notebook sitting on your lap. It makes you sweat quite a bit and is uncomfortable. It absolutely won't burn your or anything like that. But it sucks to have a machine that warm on your lap.

    And to generate all that heat requires current, which is why the batteries aren't lasting as long as they should for something like this.

    Steve Jobs, for all his evils understood the concept of a complete package, get everything right (aside antennas, apparently) before rolling it out. This thing smacks of rushed to market.

    Expect big sudden price drops.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:14PM (#42812687) Journal

    I see many parallels too:

    Apple: iPod/iPhone/iPad

    Microsoft: Zune/Windows Phone/Surface

    Yes indeed. Many parallels.

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