Surface Pro Latest Details from The Verge + Chippy Analysis.

Posted on 10 January 2013 by

Microsoft Surface Pro Image

The Verge have just posted a very interesting and detailed hands-on with the Microsoft Surface Pro. I sent out my  Surface Pro Performance Preview late last year but this hands-on, by Tom Warren, is worth taking a close look at too because it covers more than just the internals. You can read my thoughts below or just jump to The Verge.

Before I even start I want to point out that this is a desktop-capable TabletPC.  We know it’s a Core i5, but what version on the Pro? I suspect we’re going to be seeing one of the new 7W/13W TDP Core CPUs and while that means it won’t get hot, it also means it’s less powerful than a standard, Ultrabook-style, Core i5 CPU. Beware! The Verge doesn’t say anything about the Core i5 CPU in the report. Whatever the CPU though, it’s going to be many more times as powerful as the Surface RT or any Intel Clovertrail-based tablet.

Important for a Tablet owner is weight. “Microsoft has made this really comfortable to use.” says The Verge and yet they “tried holding it with one hand and it wasn’t particularly comfortable.” The Surface Pro weighs 907gm / 32oz. and that’s not good for one-handed holding. It’s 50% lighter than some of the Ultrabook convertibles but even so, that sort of weight, in one hand, is not something you want to do long-term. Get down to 66% of that weight and we’re talking consumer tablet.

So, the Surface Pro isn’t a consumer tablet. Here’s something I posted previously…

…One of the scenarios it could struggle in is as a mobile tablet. Yes, Surface Pro may not be what you expect from a 2013 tablet because it’s in a different category. Source

Quality looks fantastic. This is where the Surface Pro could really shine. It is, without a doubt, one of the best-finished 10” tablet PCs I’ve ever seen.

There’s a fan though, actually two…

Surface Pro runs on a Core i5 CPU. Even it’s going to have one of the new lower-power Core CPUs it’s going to need a fan. The Verge are reporting that the fan noise is not intrusive. The Verge say ‘silent’ but let’s remember that they are at the CES trade show!

Digitiser and other Pro features

1920×1080 with IPS (very important for tablets) display, mini DisplayPort, USB3.0, Micro SDXC, Windows 8 Pro. There’s another feature too and this fits perfectly in this class of tablet – a digitizer with pressure-sensitive pen. The Verge found that the “tracking was very precise.” Forget signing PDFs with a finger on a capacitive display, a digitizer layer is needed for that and students are going to be interested in this feature on the Surface Pro. Accurate annotations are critical for these users. Educational and business targets are clearly in the sights of Microsoft. There’s a great image of the digitizer pen magnetically attached to the Surface Pro at The Verge’s article. Out of respect to The Verge I’ll ask you to click through and check it out.

The Surface Pro could be the best Windows TabletPC so far but in my opinion it’s not a consumer tablet. Readers here might be interested though.

Surface Pro pro looks good, performs like a desktop, is well designed, has a digitizer and is coming soon.

When? We don’t know. How much? We’ve got an idea.

Thanks, The Verge. Click through for the full report.

The Surface Pro details and further reading are in our database.

Update: Engadget also have hands-on with the Surface Pro.

  • DavidC1

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6486/microsoft-announces-surface-pro-pricing-and-availability-17w-ivb-starting-at-899-in-january-2013

    “Contrary to what I assumed initially, Surface Pro will launch with a 17W Ivy Bridge CPU”

    • In an interview today, Intel suggested that the new lower-power Cores would be a good fit for Surface Pro. I can’t find the link right now but the article quote Intel as talking about CPUs ‘behind the screen.’ I still believe that a lower-power Core is the reason for the timing and that it would ‘fit’ and allow MS to talk about longer battery life than would be possible on a 17W CPU.

  • Dan

    The big question with this one is battery life.

  • sil

    Beware not to catch the tester-as-a-job-illness where you complain about or rank hardware on properties or benchmarks absolutely irrelevant to the consumer, such as a graphic card with 3fps more than the second one already at 100fps, screens with 10 nits more and so forth.

    You are absolutely and completely overestimating the 1-hand-only-tablet holding. On a typical week, measure how often and how long an iPad user is handholding her tablet with one hand only ( as opposed to 2 hands but also 1 hand and laid on a leg or tablet, and so forth), as a percentage of total iPad usage.

    In addition Windows 8 tablets are optimized for holding with 2 hands, most tasks can be executed with the 2 thumbs and when you are getting used to it you will see that in fact it is an excellent way to use a tablet for many use cases.

    Granted Microsoft is doing a supreme bad job at explaining how Windows 8 devices are optimally used and should begin to offer video tutorials on youtube and co if they want to avoid the biggest fiasco in its history.

    • Joe

      Many iPad owners I’ve seen at work and friends tried to use their iPads while standing (one hand to hold and the other to control the iPad). They stopped due to the weight. To them, the weight of an iPad is already too heavy for one-handed use although they would still like to use it with one hand if it were lighter.

    • Thanks. You are right that I/we/others need to consider the real-world aspects. I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to usability though but I try hard to consider these consumer aspects.
      Keep kicking me if you think i’m not getting the balance right.

      Chippy.

  • “1920×180 with IPS (very important for tablets) display […]”
    Well, that’s a strange resolution!

  • Chris

    Thanks Chippy for the report and thanks guys for the interesting comments so far.

    • From me too – hat-tip to commenters here. I learn a lot from you people.

  • DrNick

    Hi, Chippy! I’ve been reading up on the Surface Pro and I’m looking forward to checking it out when it comes out. I have a Samsung Series 7 Slate which I like a lot but I like the higher resolution and usb 3.0 of the Ativ Smart Pro and Surface Pro more. Also, I miss MeetMobility!

    • Hey Dr Nick. Yes, I miss them too! Interestingly, I did do a test podcast yesterday. Stay tuned.

  • Robert

    Call it ultrabook call ultralight laptop what I wanna see are computer which weigh a max of 1kg even at 15 or 17 inch and have a 24 hour battery and are silent:-) that would be real improvement oh and no compromise in coputing power either :-)

    • Screen backlight and battery tech will need to advance for that to happen BUT, I recon you could build an Atom Clovertrail 15″ tablet under 1KG. That’s about how far we are
      .
      Timescale:3yrs for an always-on 24hr laptop at 15″ and 1KG. Cost: High!

      Chippy

      • Robert

        that is a very well informed prognosis … it seems that it is possible … even some years ago there was rumor of some new battery technology for example developed by Princeton scientists which would be a major breakthrough for towards long running batteries, last I read somewhere they are making progress .. and this is also an interesting youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-0j0sp9698

      • Adam

        Is Intel still limiting the maximum screen size in Atom-based designs as they were even a year ago?

        I agree that Atom Clovertrail is a great platform right now to build ultra power efficient x86 devices on, but as of a year ago any manufacturer that tired to put Atom into a larger than 11.6″ screen would lose their Intel “discount” AKA Intel penalizes you if you try to do this because it eats into their Core CPU profits…

        Adam

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