Microsoft Surface Pro review

The full-fat Windows 8 tablet - now at a lower price

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Making your mind up about the Surface Pro is less about what it is and what it does and more about what you want out of a tablet. As a hybrid PC it's an undeniable compromise - but that's no bad thing.

We liked

This isn't the thinnest, lightest, longest lasting tablet you can get. It's thicker and heavier than an iPad or Surface RT, and it doesn't compete with either for battery life.

But it's a real PC that can run any applications you throw at it, from Flash to Firefox to Photoshop to first-person shooters. You can have all the browsers you want, play video with any codec you want, plug in all your peripherals - and you can do all that on a tablet that's thinner and lighter than just about any Ultrabook.

Plus you can write notes and draw with the precise, pressure-sensitive pen, you can hold the tablet in both hands and type with your thumbs, you can stream free music from Xbox Music and use all the designed-for-touch Windows Store apps.

That adds up to more than you can do on any other tablet - or most PCs - all wrapped up in a stylish package.

We disliked

To fit a PC in this form factor, compromises are made, and opinions vary on how much they matter.

The kickstand divides people neatly, and it depends on how long your legs are. If they're long enough for the Surface Pro to fit on your lap with the keyboard on and the kickstand out then you'll like using it on your lap. If you're short, you may have to sit in an odd position to keep it balanced, or you may find it tips over when you have it on your knees.

It's thicker and heavier than anything except another Core i5 tablet such as the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro, and you wouldn't want to hold it in one hand for an hour while you read an e-book or browse the web.

More than one USB port would be nice too, and there's no permanent home for the pen - you have to take it out of the power port to charge.

And after the long battery life of the Surface RT, eight plus hours battery life - doing real work, with Wi-Fi on - is disappointing. Of course that's excellent battery life for an ultra-thin notebook, so it's all a question of expectations.

Final verdict

Expectations are the real issue with the Microsoft Surface Pro. If you were hoping for something with the power of a Core i5 laptop but the weight and battery life of Surface RT then you need to take another look at the laws of physics and the current capabilities of Intel processors.

It's a lightweight Windows 8 PC that runs all your applications and any browser you want, that you can use as a tablet with touchscreen controls and a fantastic pen, or as a notebook, by snapping on a keyboard.

You're getting a great machine at a reasonable price with the Surface Pro, and if you like the sound of it you'll be cursing the limited stock and the fact it's only on sale in North America at first.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet PC
Flash Memory Capacity64 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 4000
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilySurface Pro
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformWindows
Operating SystemWindows 8 Pro
Brand NameMicrosoft
Form FactorSlate
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size26.9 cm (10.6")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)907.2 g
Memory Card ReaderYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyClearType
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Country of OriginChina
Height13.5 mm
Width274.6 mm
Depth173 mm
Screen ModeFull HD
ManufacturerMicrosoft Corporation
Product NameSurface Pro Tablet PC
Product LineSurface Pro
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number9SR00001
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Powerful. PC.

A laptop in tablet form, Surface Pro brings together the best of Microsoft in one awesome new PC.

Managed. Safety.

The security and manageability that you expect from Microsoft. BitLocker encrypts your hard drive's data, helping to keep your stuff safe. Install apps and connect with accessories and printers, just like you always have. Join a corporate domain for full access to your work network.

Package Contents
  • Surface Pro Tablet PC
  • AC Adapter