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Microsoft Handhelds Windows

Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive 320

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 llZENll ( 545605 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:10AM (#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 heja2009 ( 1828186 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:14AM (#42807789)
    Data-filled indeed. Pages of benchmark results, most of them for some obscure web benchmark (WebXPRT). The results show in so many ways that an i5 tablet is much faster than all those ARM tablets. I learned very little from that review that was not also covered in other less technical reviews. Basically Anandtech is throwing softballs at the companies that the site depends on to a large degree. I can understand that, but they do not exactly deserve praise for it. As for the Ars review, I found it excellent. The extensive coverage of the display scaling issues was the first time I ever read a comprehensive explanation of how this is handled in Windows. Very informative!
  • 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 bemymonkey ( 1244086 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:08AM (#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.

  • Re:Intel the Problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:52AM (#42808961)
    Metro apps follow strict sandboxing, backgrounding, multitasking, and power management rules, which allows Microsoft to make some performance guarantees about Windows RT systems. As soon as you start installing legacy applications which can sit in the background and suck up as much juice as they want, all battery life claims are compromised.

    If you want full Windows in a long-battery package, there are Atom chips for that which last over 8 hours.
  • Re:Intel the Problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by rayd75 ( 258138 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:38PM (#42809569)

    I haven't had to play with it, but our desktop support folks say that the XP virtualization in Windows 7 is fairly seamless. If they did something like that for an ARM version to have backwards compatibility I could see it working out. I don't know if that's even feasible though, since I assume hardware virtualization is a pretty big leap from OS virtualization.

    Be careful to not confuse virtualization with emulation. To run x86 apps on ARM you'd need emulation which is an altogether different thing than virtualization. (at least in the common IT use of the terms) Unlike virtualization, emulation is very CPU-intensive so they'd be cutting the battery life of the RT down to at most that of the Pro while providing the user experience of a Pentium II. Their real mistake is taking their chance to start with a clean slate (ARM, RT) and slapping the Windows brand on. If they hadn't done that, every RT review wouldn't have an obligatory paragraph about how the thing runs "Windows" but it can't actually use any of the software you already have.

  • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:59PM (#42810753)

    Except the MacBook Air isn't a tablet. That's the point here. In the Surface Pro, you have a crappy tablet (I.e., laptop level heat) and a crappy laptop (tablet form factor, limited specs, floppy hinge that isn't, you know, actually lap friendly).

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.