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Review: Windows Surface Pro

It’s a tablet.,  it’s a PC – no, it’s Super Tablet, or is it?

After taking Microsoft’s new Surface Pro for a test drive recently I have to say it is a neat idea “a laptop in tablet form” but it seems to be almost an oxymoron.

It was interesting to have all your PC capabilities at the swipe or tap of your fingertips. Did it make me want to live off a tablet for all my PC needs? Would you buy this tablet if you already have a laptop or PC? Here are a few of my thoughts that may help you decide if this is your household’s new shiny toy.

SCREEN:

Big points for the Surface Pro here! The screen is big, bright and beautiful! With a 16:9 widescreen and 1080p  resolution, pictures, videos, games, etc. are vivid and clear on the Surface Pro.  The screen has rotating orientation – meaning when you spin the tablet to view a webpage in landscape view, it easily bounces back to portrait view when you need it to. (You can also choose to lock the orientation if that sort of feature makes you “car sick”.)

OPERATING SYSTEM:

Having never seen or used the Windows 8 interface, I was quite pleased how easy it was to learn and use. There was lots of swiping, pinching, tapping and dragging. After a day or so with the tablet I’m confident all users would get along just fine. if not, Microsoft also has a pretty decent Support page here. The Start screen is almost impossible not to get back to: swipe in from the right, press the Windows button on the tablet edge or press the Windows button on the Type/touch covers. The Start screen is where it’s at! The tablet comes with some preloaded apps for mail, weather, shopping, etc however you will have to download all of you social media applications and any other “fun” apps. (As far as apps go, the selection and quantity available was not impressive and slow growing from what I’ve learned.)

CAMERA:

Two mobilenorth thumbs down here. Although there are 2 cameras (one front and one rear facing) they feel behind the times and the quality of the pictures are poor.  The quality of the pictures are disappointing in comparison to the display screen quality on the Surface.

The tablet does not have a flash and has a hard time taking low light images. Although I found a few editing apps that you can download, the built in editing only includes basic options like brightness and contrast. The only time I would utilize the camera from this tablet is if was using it for video chat. I really couldn’t see myself using this tablet as my go to or even my back up camera option.

BATTERY LIFE:

Unfortunately I found the battery life to be less than stellar. I would get approx 5 hrs of usage on the Surface Pro before being prompted to charge the unit. I could see if you were using this as your main PC – the battery life would be quite frustrating.

I’m also used to a significantly longer power supply cord with my MacBook and found that I had to sit considerably closer to the wall outlet when I was using the tablet when it was charging.  A bonus for the Pro was that it was a pretty quick charge, averaging 2-4 hrs and you were back in business.

ACCESSORIES:

The Pro comes with a digital pen with WACOM technology that includes an eraser button on one end and a mouse button on the side. It’s light weight, almost a little cheap feeling but don’t misplace the sucker when you are charging the tablet (the pen does not have a home when the tablet’s charging,) they will set you back approx. $30-$50. Is it just me or did they not have tablets/phones with stylus capabilities before touchscreens were even on the market? Unfortunately Microsoft’s digital pen does not excite me.. If I’m using a tablet, I’d probably rather type my message than handwrite it – maybe that’s just me though.

Additional accessories for the Surface Pro are:

  • Wedge Mouse: tiny, compact, Bluetooth capabilities a cool looking tool – unfortunately the Bluetooth never worked for me.
  • Touch Pad: thin, think flat keyboard with invisible buttons, track pad, can be used as a cover
  • Type Pad: also pretty thin (5mm), traditional keyboard keys, track pad, also doubles as a cover. (I found that this was my go to, if I was using the tablet as a PC I still enjoyed hearing the ‘click click’ and the feel of actual keys under my fingers.)

Both the Touch and Type covers attach with a very strong magnetic connection as depicted on the Windows 8 commercials or in our video.

STORAGE AND UPDATES:

The Surface Pro comes in two different sizes: 64GB and 128GB. If you’re buying a Surface, you should definitely spend the extra $100 and get the 128GB version. The 64GB version is almost full before you even take it out of the box, you will only have approx. 13GB for any additional apps or storage/files.

Having not used a PC in a few months I forgot how often they require updating. It almost seemed like every time I turned on the Pro it had pending updates. I guess this is just something you are used to if you are a regular PC user.

CONCLUSION:

The Surface Pro has a classy look even though it has a bit of an identity crisis between tablet or PC.  Where the Ipad was designed to be an addition to your PC, the Surface is designed to tackle business, everyday and fun applications. I’m not 100% sold that Microsoft hit the ball out of the park on this tablet, it seems to fall a little short in both applications: business and fun. The Windows app designers would have to work overtime to catch up to the available Apple apps to even make them in the same ballpark. Personally if I were looking to spend $1000 on new PC, I don’t think at this time I would put that money down for a Surface Pro because I don’t think I could survive solely on the Pro for all my computer needs. If you are always on the go and require your desktop and files at your fingertips this would be a great compact option for you.

 

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