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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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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This has potential to rid me of having a separate computer and tablet. The current Pro seems like it will work as a development platform for future applications; the consumers will start buying it more once it gets thinner and lighter.

  • 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).
    • 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.

    • Because I'm currently using a Fujitsu Stylistic ST-4121 running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and need to keep my Wacom stylus --- I use it for:

      - annotating .pdfs
      - drawing and sketching using ArtRage, Autodesk SketchBook, FutureWave SmartSketch, Creaturehouse Expression and Macromedia FreeHand
      - designing fonts using FontForge
      - lightweight programming using Runtime Revolution (I find drawing interface elements easier w/ the stylus)
      - writing papers using LyX and WinTeXsh

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Because I'm currently using a Fujitsu Stylistic ST-4121 running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and need to keep my Wacom stylus

        That's OK, you have an upgrade path to the extremely reasonably priced when refurbished Fujitsu Lifebook T900. ~900 for Core i7, 4GB RAM, Win7, and combo 8-way multitouch and wacom pen. After much hemming and hawing that's what I selected as my lady's next (now current) laptop and while it's a little chunky and heavy for a laptop, it's a fantastic machine for art, and it has a replaceable battery. This would be a much better move for you than Surface, because it's much less of a ripoff and you won't be forc

        • by WillAdams (45638)

          I don't want chunky and heavy --- I see no reason to haul around a keyboard and optical drive I almost never use (I have docking stations for when I want to use it at a desk at work or home) and it wouldn't fit in my favourite laptop bag which I've been using for about 2 decades now, and don't want to replace.

      • by bemymonkey (1244086) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:08AM (#42808465)

        Forget the Surface Pro - get an Atom-based Win8 tablet. I'm quite satisfied with mine (ATIV Smart PC): easily gets 10 hours of battery life during PDF annotation or OneNote (usually more - I haven't gotten it below 50% in a workday yet), sufficiently thin and light so as not to be noticeable in a bag, and Wacom stylus tech.

        I'm coming from a Thinkpad X41T, which had a bit more CPU grunt than that ST-4121 of yours, and the Clover Trail Atom is quite a bit faster than the Pentium M in the X41T... so you should be fine in terms of processing power as well.

        • by snadrus (930168)
          It's a nice device, but with PDF Annotation & OneNote both available on Android. It has competition. And you lose anti-virus, gain a future OS upgrade (if you go with a top name), have a thinner, cooler (temperature) device with days of instant standby. All for about the same cost, or less if you can handle a smaller screen size (which Android works sufficiently with).
    • by fermion (181285)
      Given the price, and that it only has an i5 and 4GB of ram, one can get a better laptop for the same money. Unless a case can be made for a touchscreen, it seems to be a questionable purchase

      One this that I like in a table is all day, meaning 7-10 hours, of battery life for light use, and a small charger, meaning USB, so I don't have all that extra bulk to carry around.

      I have seen tables used as point of sale in shops. It could be that the surface would work there.

      • Re:Can I just ask (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:41AM (#42808829) Journal

        Actually, you'll be hard pressed to find more than one or two other laptops on the entire market which have an IPS screen, even if you ignore the fact that this has both a capacitive and a Wacom stylus screen. You'll also have a difficult time finding a similarly sized (i5, 4GB RAM) laptop with more than 6 hours of actual battery life (not "rated") that is still under 2 lbs. Realize also that for $40 you can get an external battery pack that has enough juice to take this device past 8 hours total runtime (though the connector market hasn't caught up yet).

        This is actually very close to the perfect device for someone who works occassionally on a netbook or small ultrabook, but also carries a tablet (because reading or watching entertainment on a netbook is a non-starter).

        I found the reviews funny. If I'm lounging on the sofa, I'm probably consuming content and I much prefer the tablet form factor. If I'm doing work, I'm almost certainly sitting at a table, in which case the built in stand kicks the shit out of all the lousy, bulky cases needed for a tablet to stand up. To complain that it doesn't work as well as a laptop computer when you're in a location where a tablet is a better form factor is just laughable.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      My Nexus 7 has a USB port. It is micro-USB, but adaptors are not exactly new.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:35AM (#42807501) Journal

    If Google comes out with a phone or tablet it's simply fostering adoption and providing some reference for other hardware makers, if Micro$oft does it they're "declaring war" on their hardware partners. Utter stupidity.

    Also, why would anyone think the Surface Pro was supposed to run on battery all day...? Clearly this is a workstation/tablet hybrid that leans farther to the tablet side.

    In the longer run Intel will have move entirely into this market, 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.

    Personally I thought this was going to happen sooner via systems like the Atrix phone and dock - they tried this at SIEMENS a few years back but Android was really the blocking issue, not the hardware. I love my Android phone, but as a full blown operating system it's got a long way to go.

    • 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.

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        I think that's a case of semantics ;).

        The Google 'partner' that builds the phone isn't making a profit anymore than the actual manufacturer making the RT and Pro, plus they aren't 'marketed badly' by Google - that's is not their purpose. Neither is it the purpose of the Surface RT or Surface Pro.

        It's like complaining back when nVidia and ATI made cards that they were poisoning their hardware partners when nothing could be further from the truth (they no longer need to do this because of the ubiquity of the

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          The Google 'partner' that builds the phone isn't making a profit anymore than the actual manufacturer making the RT and Pro

          I should hope they are, otherwise they're going to go out of business.

          They may not be making all of the profits, but if they're doing manufacturing without making any profit, they'd be idiots.

          But Microsoft has typically let their partners design the boxes to run Windows, with this Microsoft is entering actually designing and selling Microsoft branded hardware. Except for keyboards and

          • by Assmasher (456699)

            It's why I said "any more". Neither group is getting the types of profits that would expected from a direct retail offering of their own.

    • by garcia (6573)

      If Google comes out with a phone or tablet it's simply fostering adoption and providing some reference for other hardware makers, if Micro$oft does it they're "declaring war" on their hardware partners. Utter stupidity.

      While you may be correct, in this case because of Microsoft's nearly 40 year history as not really being a computer hardware vendor (not talking about mice here), they are telling those they partnered with for decades that their products are inferior and Microsoft can do it better.

      Google hasn

    • by llZENll (545605) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:10AM (#42807759)

      I agree and the summary is very negatively biased. I clicked through to the BGR article expecting to find a scathing summary, when in fact it was quite the opposite.

      "On an island, the Surface Pro is a fantastic premium computer that is portable, versatile and capable. It is priced fairly and it offers novel features that provide clear advantages over rival devices. But in a market where interest in personal computers is declining and Windows 8 is struggling to gain traction, I fear the Surface Pro might not be the right product right now.

      The Surface Pro is not good fit for everyone, but those who do purchase Microsoft’s new tablet for work or for personal use — whether they number in the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions — will not be disappointed."

    • 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 Assmasher (456699)

        What exactly do you consider a proper computer?
        What do you mean by actual work?

        I have a dual hex core (24 hardware threads) 26GB dev box in my office, a new Mac Mini, and a Dell Touch screen all-in-one - I develop on all of them.

        The majority of people at a company (that isn't an ISV) don't need anything more powerful than an iPad to do everything they've got to do.

        The Surface Pro is going to give them an iPad-ish form factor except it will run Windows 7/8 software that already exists - That's a pretty huge

    • If it indeed runs too hot to hold in hand, then no, there is no hyperbole.

      Yeah, the imaginary tablet in your mind will perhaps be much better, if and when it exists, but Surface Pro, the product in actual existence, the product this submission is about, is a heavy, overheating piece of shit.

      TL;DR No hyperbole, Surface pro is crap.

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        If it indeed runs too hot to hold in hand, then no, there is no hyperbole.

        I haven't seen a review that says anything bad about heat, I've read and heard that if you lay it down on a blanket it can get hot.

        Hell, I have a Macbook Air that gets lava hot if you do any OpenGL work on it.

        BTW, the hyperbole was in reference to the "declaring war" sentiment.

    • Also, why would anyone think the Surface Pro was supposed to run on battery all day...? Clearly this is a workstation/tablet hybrid that leans farther to the tablet side.

      Because carrying around a power supply is antiquated. Why would you buy a device that needs to be charged more than once a day (i.e. over night)?

  • 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.
    • by nojayuk (567177) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:51AM (#42807585)

      "For the price of it, you can get an awesome ultrabook."

      Which ultrabooks have a 600dpi pressure/angle/tilt sensitive stylus on a 1920x1080 screen?

      "You can also get a comparable tablet for a lot less."

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

      Wacom charge a thousand bucks for their lower-resolution Cintiq 12WX screen-based digitiser tablet and that's without any computer behind it, just an input/display device. That's what's tempting me to splash out on a Pro when it is released although I may have to get a grey-market unit since there's no firm date for it going on sale here in the UK.

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:23AM (#42807897) Homepage Journal

        Wacom charge a thousand bucks for their lower-resolution Cintiq 12WX screen-based digitiser tablet and that's without any computer behind it, just an input/display device.

        For $900 you can get a refurb'd Fujitsu Lifebook T900 with 4GB RAM, Windows 7, and a 13" combo digitizer (mediocre resolution, I admit) with a combo wacom with 8-way multitouch and pen/whatever, with the pen stored in the unit. It's only slightly more ugly than a cintiq and it's a convertible tablet. Oh, did I mention for that price you get an i7? Cintiq is the worst ripoff ever.

        • by nojayuk (567177)

          The T900 has a 1280x800 screen and weighs 2.4kg whereas the Surface Pro is 1920x1080 and weighs under a kilo. The pics I've seen in reviews suggest the T900's pen is wired to the base unit but it's not too clear -- the Pro's pen is of course wireless.

          I'd really be interested to find out if the Pro will work with the extended range of art pens Cintiq have on offer.

      • 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.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          if you go that way hell, why not six tablets from shenzen! they're almost the same thing as nexus 7!
          just face it, nexus 7 isn't going to cut it.

          surfaces biggest problem is marketing.. they should be marketing it to graphics folks who want that digitizer and full photoshop. not to moms&pops and shoving metro on their face.

          • surfaces biggest problem is marketing..

            I think you need another quick look at those reviews

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              these reviews will be read by guys and gals who already knew what the surface pro was 6 months ago. they're also written by same people.

              they got a real clusterfuck going on about the whole what win8 means for you as an user, what windows Rt is and wtf this surface pro then is and why should they care about the pro since it's totally different piece of kit compared to the surface rt.

              the only thing their adverts should have would be some talented guy using the digitizer like it's supposed to be used drawing u

      • by bfandreas (603438)
        The price point actually is quite good. The form factor is a bit unfortunate.

        Asus has shown how you would do a proper hybrid tablet/notebook solution. Mechanically they have nailed the ideal(to me) form factor with the Transformer tablet line. If they actually built something like that with specs similar to this MS thing then I would pay more than a thousand bucks for it.

        I'm currently sitting in front of an i7 notebook with 8gigs of RAM. Imagining I could simply detach the screen while leaving the keybo
    • Well the reviews have the kickstand as an ergonomic failure. It's a novel design but functionally, other convertible designs seem to do the job better - e.g. Asus Transformer, Dell Inspiron Duo, HP envy x2.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        It's a novel design but functionally, other convertible designs seem to do the job better - e.g. Asus Transformer, Dell Inspiron Duo, HP envy x2.

        The Transformer makes a crappy laptop too. You just can't make a laptop work on your lap when all the heavy parts are behind the screen, unless you put a lot more weight in the keyboard dock. Even the extra battery Asus put in there for the Transformer isn't heavy enough to stop it wanting to tip over all the time.

  • 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."

    • I can't help thinking Microsoft still doesn't really get design.

      Nothing to do with compromise. Its unashamedly, about using their Desktop [and Office] monopoly, to muscle there way onto mobile [smartphone and tablet] after failing have a compelling product to gain relevance in the new sector, by pretending they are an ecosystem(sic).

      It hardly takes a genius to see that the a separation of both Tablet and Desktop for in both hardware and software, rather than some hybrid affair would be an improvement...but its not going to win against Android, or ironically ChromeOS.

    • by sootman (158191)

      Anyone who says "no compromises" design is displaying a fundamental lack of understanding of what design is. Design IS compromise. EVERY design is trying to solve a problem -- but there's never just one problem. So you have a tablet OS and a traditional OS in the same package? Great. You also have more complexity than either alone and more disk space [microsoft.com] used. And more heat and worse battery life than a tablet, and lower performance than a dedicated laptop.

      It's a red flag: if you hear a designer say "no comprom

  • Too expensive.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cptdondo (59460) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:51AM (#42807591) Journal

    $1,100???? My daughter just got a Lenovo, about 3 lbs, 15" screen, delivered for $350. Why would I want to spend 3x the money for a smaller screen and a worse keyboard?

    I can equip most of my family with nice laptops for the price of one Surface. :headscratch:

  • I would have thought the issues with perching the Surface were obvious from the moment photos of it appeared that showed how the stand worked. It might be fine on a desk but it would be a nuisance perched on the lap, or a small lecture hall table, or a clipback tray, or sitting in bed etc. Eventually Asus transformer devices will appear for Windows 8 Pro and I think at that point people can enjoy the best of both worlds - providing the keyboard dock counteracts the weight of tablet bit and doesn't tip over.
  • by rimcrazy (146022) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:10AM (#42807765)

    It's a shitty laptop and a shitty tablet. Oh and 41-43Gb of OS gobbling up your SSD is simply a frigging joke.

    Nothing new here..... move along.

  • should have more ram or at least at upgrade choice.

    4GB is small now days.

  • My 2009 N900 had more disk space and (replaceable) battery life. How is this the pinnacle of the computing evolution? Could you use it today as main computer with 23-89gb of usable disk space? Did we hit Moore's law limit and bounced back?
  • Given that the lowest end (12WX) cintiq is around $900, and this seems to have much of the functionality of that, without the need to lug a laptop or desktop around as well, this suddenly becomes more interesting. I'd like to see more info about it's usability in that respect.

    • You should go get an iPad and a capacitive stylus. It's practically as good, with inexpensive apps that can do all your creating and editing just like a styles!

      **BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH**

      Yeah, I couldn't stop laughing at that either. It is, imho, the most massive failure of the iPad line not to have pressure sensitive, pixel accurate input from the company that made its mark wooing creative types. I've been hoping that the Surface Pro would be enough to take over the duties of both my tablet and my netbook-siz

  • Haven't had anything but the MSSE loaded for, well, years. And I haven't bothered with real time monitoring of email since I moved to google apps and run from a dedicated chrome session. Am I shirking my responsibility by relying on the "cloud" and MS to do the checking for me? Well, yes, I am. And it's working exceptionally well. I'm sorry if I don't have a dozen scanners running in the background at all times. I do a point check with malwarebytes on occasion, but that's about it.

    • by Holi (250190)

      Anti-virus is basically useless now, they don't update enough, virus writers test to make sure they can bypass them. How often do you see a machine with Symantec or McAfee installed completely pwned by viruses. Windows Defender (the built in av for windows 8) is probably enough as long as you surf smart.

  • 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 Tom (822) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:49PM (#42811463) Homepage Journal

    Ok, so basically the reviews are ripping it to shreds. Just re-read the last few sentences of the summary. That's the nice way of saying "This is total trash, stay away from it. I don't know who would want one, because either you need a tablet, or a notebook, and this one tries to be both and fails at both."

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