Review: Microsoft Surface Pro a mixed bag
When Microsoft rolled out Windows 8, it did so alongside its first tablet – the Surface.
But that device wasn’t running the most powerful hardware, and the operating system was actually a watered-down version of Windows 8 called Windows RT.
The concept was a good effort, but I was hopeful that a tablet with more horsepower running a full-blown version of the operating system would be better.
Here we are, a few months later, and Microsoft has rolled out the Surface Pro. With more power under the hood and an operating system that can run Windows 8 apps along with traditional Windows 7 programs, is the Pro any good – and is it better than the basic Surface?
For those not familiar with the Surface, it’s a tablet with a little (and sturdy) kick stand that helps it stand at a slight angle on its own. Users can use a keyboard to type and click away at things. When it’s not a necessity, the keyboard can snap off or fold backward.
The Surface Pro has significantly faster hardware behind its rock-solid VapourMg case. Behind the 10.6-inch screen sits an Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000, the same type of computing brains you’d find in many laptops and desktops. Microsoft has this tablet configured with 4 GB of RAM.
There’s no spinning hard drive – the Surface Pro is available with either a 64 GB or 128 GB SSD drive that helps the device boot up and restore in almost no time at all.
But going back to the case, the Surface Pro has actually gained a bit of weight to fit in all the hardware. It’s not as easy to hold for long periods of time, but it’s still lighter than a laptop.
The full HD screen looks great, but it’s almost too small to use comfortably when in Desktop mode. Unfortunately, given the still-fresh selection of apps, I used the Surface Pro in Desktop mode almost 90 per cent of the time.
The other 10 per cent of the time, when I’m either watching full-screen video or using native Windows 8 apps, the display looks fine.
The Microsoft Surface Pro is an improvement on the base Surface. But with a starting price tag of $899 (which doesn’t include the Touch Cover keyboard), the Pro proposition is getting a little expensive.
And then consider what most people may not like with the Surface – you can’t exactly use it as a laptop on your lap. The hinge, though very clever, is not ‘stiff.’ And this means you can’t use it on your lap comfortably while the little kickstand rests on your legs.
Although it’s larger and less travel-friendly, the Lenovo Yoga is a Windows 8 computer that seems to get the format just right.
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