Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB

The price is also a huge factor, and with a starting price of $999 for the 64GB version (or $1099 for the 128GB model we checked out), and then the addition of a $140-150 keyboard cover, this is not a cheap entry into the world of Windows 8.

That’s around $1100-1200 for a machine that doesn’t offer a whole lot of battery life or usability in transit.

That last factor is something we test quite heavily, knowing that many users take to cars, buses, planes, and trains to get work done. Hopefully you’re not driving while working, but we know that both the front and rear passenger seats are used for homework for some families.

In the Surface Pro, about the only thing you can type on while moving is the touchscreen itself, which is about as flawed as regular touchscreens and relies on you not being the fastest of typists.

The stand, however, is technically stable, but won’t hold its own in a moving environment, and because of the heavy weight of the Surface Pro, will inadvertently fall backwards at the first sign of momentum.

It doesn’t help that the keyboard cases don’t really work well without a flat surface, and you run into a rather irritating dilemma for the Surface Pro.

As such, it prefers a desk, and quite a flat desk at that. Good luck using it anywhere else.

The keyboard costs extra.

Some of the other niggles come in the form of pieces of design that initially look good, but fall over very quickly.

One of these is the pen, and if you don’t lose this very quickly, we’ll be very surprised.

Having a stylus is actually quite useful, because even though Windows 8 is designed better for touch than previous generations, only app made for Windows 8 show evidence of that. Software designed for the older “desktop” edition of Windows (think Windows 7) – which include Microsoft Office, strangely – still like mice more, and that means either a stylus or trackpad is going to be your best bet.

And Microsoft includes one of these – a stylus, yay! – though you get the trackpad if you buy the keyboard case cover.

It even includes a place to store that stylus. Sort of.

You see, the pen features the same magnetic port on the side as the power port, which means whenever your power isn’t plugged in, you can attach your pen here.

But whenever the power is in, your pen has to go somewhere else, making the chances of losing it higher. Doubling these chances is knowing that the magnetic clip is a little flimsy and a simple brush will cause that pen to go tumbling off, potentially getting lost in the process.

So much for that idea, Microsoft.

The pen and the power use the same port, so only one can be plugged in at the same time.

We also like the magnetic cover case clip, but the moment you fold that keyboard to the other side and hold the tablet like, well, a tablet, desktop-based apps (again, like Office and Word) won’t show an on-screen keyboard.

Windows 8 based apps will, no worries there, but Office is for desktop, and we suspect a lot of apps people will want to use won’t automatically load that keyboard.

The weight is also something we’re not huge fans of, and at just shy of a kilogram (0.9, in fact), this is not a light tablet, not by a long shot.

Make no mistake, this is more of a computer than a tablet, but because of its heavy weight, it’s actually harder to carry around with one hand than your regular tablet, and that means you’re probably going to use this thing on a desk more than in a portable environment, which – the last time we checked – was exactly the point and purpose of tablet computing.

Conclusion

Microsoft’s first proper attempt at a Windows 8 tablet is an interesting one.

There are a lot of things to admire about it, as aspects of the design are very cool, the innards are reasonably powerful, and when setup on a desk with a keyboard cover case, you actually get a decent little tablet-laptop computing experience.

But then there’s poor battery life, that ridiculous heft that means it can’t be used with one hand, and that awful price, and these elements make it hard to recommend.

Some will love what Microsoft have accomplished here, but we’re not one of them, and while it’s an interesting product, there are better tablets out there already that make better use of Windows than even the makers of Windows can manage.

 

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