Review: Microsoft Surface Pro

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Yes, ladies and gents, this is it: the Surface Pro. If you’ve read my Surface review, you’ll know that even though it was decent device in and of itself, it just didn’t quite meet my needs. This, however, does. A fully-fledged PC in the size of a tablet, the Surface Pro is Microsoft setting the bar for other OEMs to follow. And so far, I’m liking it. (Note: yes, I know the Surface 2 was just announced, but since we have at least a month before its official availability, I’m hoping this review keeps you occupied until then)

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The Surface Pro has the same VaporMg frame found in its RT-equipped sibling, though with some slight modifications. For instance, it is slightly thicker, mainly to accommodate the more potent innards. You will also notice a small slit that runs throughout to make way for cooling. But other than those modifications, it is similar to the Surface physically. The kickstand flips out at a fixed angle, enabling you to work comfortably when it is placed on a desk.

Another feature that separates the Pro and RT variants is the display. Microsoft pulled no stops with this one, giving it a Full HD screen instead of 1366 x 768 pixels. There is a slight problem, though: text and icons can appear a bit too small, making it hard to navigate through menus through touch. This has been a lingering problem with Windows in general, and Windows 8.1 is said to remedy this issue, so keep your fingers crossed.

A neat addition to the Surface Pro is stylus input. The device itself comes bundled with a Wacom digitizer that plugs into the charging port magnetically. You get 1024 levels of sensitivity out of it, which is on par with a lot of entry-level to mid-range offerings. As someone who dabbles in the occasional sketch, I appreciate this feature, as I can skip the graphics tablet and just sketch on the screen. Call it a portable Cintiq, if you will.

The Surface Pro runs on a low-voltage Intel Core i5 processor paired with 4GB of DDR3 RAM – a potent combination that makes the device a capable workhorse. The base variant gets you 64GB of space, though I highly recommend you get the 128GB one instead, as Windows 8 takes a significant amount of space. So plan your installations wisely, especially if you work with large files.

For the Surface review, I was provided the Type Cover. Now with the Surface Pro, I was given the Touch Cover. So I’ll now give you a mini-review of the peripheral. It looks like one flat piece of plastic, but hidden within are the electronics that let the raised surfaces churn out text. You will need practice though, as you will make a lot of typos. But after a while, you will get to your usual level of productivity. It bears mentioning that the Touch Cover for review is a limited edition cover, a cyan one called “Skulls”, which aptly features skulls throughout. There are two other designs, one titled “Flowers”(pink) and another titled “Year Of The Snake”(red). Three guesses as to what they feature. First two don’t count.

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When put through the benchmark gauntlet, the Surface Pro managed to produce rather respectable results. In PCMark05, the Surface Pro scored high in CPU, Memory and Storage.

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In PCMark7, the Microsoft product did particularly well in both Computation and Creativity, no doubt due to the use of the Intel Core i5 processor.

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Unfortunately, it faltered when it came to battery life, being unable to reach the 3 hour mark when you mix work and play. No doubt, you can exceed 3 hours when you just focus on paperwork, but if you’re watching a flick, you’d best come prepared with the charger.

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In terms of connectivity, the Surface Pro comes with a USB 3.0 port and miniDisplayPort, along with the usual microSD card reader and audio jack. Considering the limited space, it is understandable.

The Surface Pro is a powerful tablet-PC, there is no doubt about that. However, its limited battery life keeps it from being the go-to product for mobile warriors. That said, if you’re looking for a powerful workhorse and you’re always near a power socket, the Surface Pro is a great choice.

The Surface Pro can be purchased through the following retailers:

  • Thunder Match Tehnology
  • Challenger
  • SNS Network
  • Harvey Norman

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