back to article Review: Living with Microsoft's new Surface Pro

While the Surface RT was aimed at Apple's iDevices, its posh Pro cousin is Microsoft's Windows 8 showcase in the PC space, and on midnight on February 9 the first units will go on sale. But we got one early, lived with it for a week, and have, ahem, surfaced to tell of our experience. Microsoft is adamant that the Surface Pro is …

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Magnesium?

I don't know if it blends, but it should burn most beautifully.

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Flame

Re: Magnesium?

Its a surface area thing... holding a match to a log probably won't start a fire, but shavings of the same log will catch alight quite easily. Magnesium and magnesium aluminium alloys are widely used for products- in part because the magnesium makes the aluminium easier to cast.

I don't know if a li-ion battery fire creates enough heat and temperature to get a cast magnesium alloy laptop chassis going well.

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Mushroom

Re: Magnesium?

It might burn if you visit the surface of Venus. No risk on this planet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Magnesium?

"It might burn if you visit the surface of Venus. No risk on this planet."

Oh, it''ll BURN baby !

Evening RICHTO !

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FAIL

More expense to utilise its selling point!

So, it's an expensive heavy device with a flawed OS, and to make it a useful alternative you need to splurge more cash for a keyboard.

Surly this is madness

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Re: More expense to utilise its selling point!

It should do a respectable job of executing the speech recognition that's been standard in all Windows since Vista. Whky not try it with no keyboard?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More expense to utilise its selling point!

It's by far the best OS choice yet on a tablet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Robert Carnegie

"Whky not try it with no keyboard"

Is that whakt you posted posted your commenkt witkh? as I am trying it and get the samke issuke

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Facepalm

So this is how Microsoft does tablets...

...nearly 1kg heavy, with two fans, and - with its cover - thicker than an Ultrabook.

Well played, Microsoft, well played.

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As ever, I'll wait for the first 'service pack', hopefully there is a Surface Pro 2

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The rumours are already all around the web about the Pro 2, see here for one example (there are many more variants on the theme if you search).

The word is three variants, one with Qualcomm processor (Snapdragon or successor), one with the new AMD Temash and one labelled the "Surface Book" with the Haswell. Then there's also rumours of the Xbox Surface tablet too.

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Handwriting-Recognition is NOT new

HWR is build into Windows since XP Tablet and Win8 can do so just fine on EVERY tablet-pc I have around / tried that has a stylus. This is not a Surface/Pro "special feature". The input form shown is the same I get on my 2011s EP121 or Samsung ATIV.

Oh and the Surface/Pro definitly is NOT "inspired by the iPad". Tablet-PC in this form factor have been around since at least 2003! Price and the problem with a Harddisk in a device that is used like a legal pad have kept them rare but with SSDs they have come into the "mass market" in recent years.

Last point: Sure there are alternative keyboars. Any BT keyboard will do, even more so with the device having a build in kickstand.

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Re: Microsoft Surface Pro FAIL

The UK is lucky, their FOSStards and PenguBoys are a lot funnier than our german ones. If you don't need him any more, could you borrow him to the heise forum

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A fish/foul dysfunction in the making?

At least that's the feeling I got from a brief play with absurdly expensive RT devices (Surface and the Lenovo Yoga). The only Windows 8 devices I've liked so far are those with a conventional laptop form factor + touch screen. Of course, YMMV, but at least Android and iOS feel like they're designed for the devices they run on.

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Anonymous Coward

Slated (pun) pretty much everywhere

Poor at most tasks, expensive, cumbersome and shite build quality seems to be the general review consensus. However i'm sure some greasing payments will ensure the positive reviews sneak through in places..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Slated (pun) pretty much everywhere

Sounds like a cross between Apple and Android to me!

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Anonymous Coward

My question is

what's my cat doing in this review?

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Joke

It's...

"Is it a tablet? Is it an Ultrabook?"

No, it's Superflop!

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Re: It's...

I always thought that a horror movie set in a processor factory should be called 'TERROR FLOP!'

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looks great --but

compare it with a thinkpad x200.

2/3rds the price

4 times the processing power

5 times ad much storage

Best keyboard in the world

Only a couple of ounces heavier

A choice of real usable OSes

15 years on the black box is a classic design that still says "Kool"

The surface doesn't look quite so desirable any more.

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Re: looks great --but

Prices I found start well past 1000€ new. For a 2GB unit with a classic hard disk and a Core2Duo. Not to mention 1280x800 screen resolution. HDD and mobile devices are a "if you absolutely need that much storage" for me this days. NOT having to think about "spinning metal" makes live easier with mobile devices

I seriously doubt any notebook in this price/weight range can have 4 times the processing power. A Fujitzu T902 might get close - at more than 2kg/more than 2000€. Don't get me wrong, Thinkpad keyboards are GREAT and the hardware in general is sturdy. But it screams "work!" not "cool"

As for the OS:

+ I found Win8 to be VERY useable on Desktop and tablet pc

+ Don't see anythink that says "can't install something else"

Granted, that WACOM-support in Linux makes Alphas nuclear waste disposal sites look sturdy and controlled but even that exist.

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I still don't get the touch screen fascination.

On phones? Yes.

On tablets? Yes.

On a productive device with a keyboard? No.

Using a touch on any device with a keyboard attached is bat crap bonkers. You lean forward with out stretched arms to wipe greasy fingers on a screen, hoping not to look like a zombie whilst doing it. With a phone or tablet you hold it in one hand whilst manipulating the screen with the other, it makes sense but on any device with a keyboard is stupid.

Microsoft have seen the success of the iPad and gone touch mad. Its not the fact that the iPad had a touch screen that made it successful, its just a good, desirable consumer friendly device. If touch screens are so great, so must have then why having Apple incorporated it into machines running OSX? Because if Apple cant see a way to get touch screens to work on laptops and desktops then its probably because it doesn't work.In

And if anyone, anyone gets so much as s finger print on my 27in IMac. .. You'd better start running. Look but don't touch!

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Re: I still don't get the touch screen fascination.

I have the slightly older sibling to the Surface/Pro (An ASUS EP121)(1) lying right next to me. Touch has been disabled on the unit since day one. I use the unit daily and will likely replace it with a Haswell-based tablet (A Surface/Pro v2 or a Helix/2) when they are out. Why?

+ If I have a work environment where I could use a notebook I dig out the BT keyboard/mouse and have a notebook where I can adjust the distance to the screen. The unit is older so no USB3 and USB3 docking but with that it could even replace a desktop at home(2)

+ If I lack the space I pull out the stylus and use the thing one handed or proped on a knee etc. Note taking is easy, Handwriting Recognition both directly and later is working fine. Using it on a train for annotating text etc. works fine

+ It is a full notebook. I never have to ask "will Presentation X work" - it will because the unit runs Office 2010.

+ The /Pro supports WIDI(3) so I could do the presentation free standing/walking with the unit in hand no longer needing a presenter, can react to comments by annotating.

+ Can be easily handed around the table like a legal pad, used to make a quick drawing etc. Again either beaming directly or (good viewing angle) lying flat in the middle. Stylus keeps it clean. And unlike paper I won't loose the notes, can mail them around (All Windows units have MS-Journal)

+ Has replaced the legal pad and most printouts for me. I write in OneNote or Journal (Depending on target audience), annotate PDF in Foxit by handwritten notes instead of printing them, same for Word-Dokuments / Powerpoints and mail them back(4)

+ Both units lack 3G but tethering (either to a mobile phone or a MIFI router) solves that. MIFI has the benefit of allowing LTE by switching an external component.

+ It is a Windows unit (Win8/Pro) and the company admins love it since it can be easily integrated in the Windows-based infrastructure

(1) Same weight class, same CPU / memory / SSD class. The kick-stand is in the sleeve not the case and the detachable keyboard is BT. Has around 30GB free (no recovery partition, MS-Office, GIMP, ArtRage, Eclipse and some tools installed) Data is on a 64GB SD-card

(2) And a unit like the Helix with 8GB and a "dock" surely can

(3) Changed the WLAN card on the EP so it does as well, carry an adapter box that takes HDMI or VGA

(4) Readable handwriting helps - I am old enough to have one

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Facepalm

eek

I hope that bedspread is the cat bedding. Its fecking awful.

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Monstrosity

That thing really looks ugly IMO and is probably a lot heavier and thicker than an Intel powered tablet deserves to be. If you're going to end up with a slab like that you may as well get an Ultrabook.

There are a number of tablets built around an Atom z2760 coming down the pipe and *that's* what these things should be aiming for. They're never going to be speed demons but they'll probably be more than capable of browsing, MS office, casual games and other functionality and they'll do it with a similar form factor and power draw as an ARM chip. And they'll likely not cost much more either except to account for the extra SSD they need.

This Surface just has as fail written over it.

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Re: Monstrosity

The Pro has written "niche market" all over it. But a market that has existed for more than a decade, has a loyal following and that has demands an Atom can not met due to the restrictions build into the platform (2GB, slow "SSD", low graphic performance) or the available/announced hardware (low screen resolution). This is the replacement for units like ASUS EP121, Samsung S7, Fujitsu Stylistic series (and the T580) and similar units. Resonably low priced, very sturdy, good screen resolution, resonable battery duration. A penable tablet PC and actually usable with touch (a first for Windows penables(1)).

Granted, it is not your typical "Couchy" for simple browsing/reading(2) but for drawing, drafting, graphics works, presenting (3), note taking and as a replacement for an upper class notebook they are fine. The unit has enough power for light-medium programming work at a customer site as well. Once you get used to the additional capacities tablet pc (and convertibles) have over a "simple" notebook you don't want to go back.

It's like driving a Mercedes G. Most of it's jobs could be done by a Ford Mondeo as well. But after you have gotten used to 4WD, high seat position and real cross-country suspension that can ignore the typical german 2nd/3rd level road with it's potholes you don't want to go back.(4)

(1) The last Win7 units had touch but Win7 and touch don't mix well

(2) Also quite useable for that as well

(3) Even more so if you need to go "past powerpoint" and present Java-based Web applications

(4) As much as I likes the Mondeo that I drove for a decade. But with german roads being what they are these days "Wolfie" is the better choice. No plastic - all metal

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Re: Monstrosity

I just wonder with the Surface that in their zeal to shove a powerful chip in they've just defeated the reasons for doing it in the first place - it's thick, it's heavy, it sucks battery, it has a fan and vents, it costs a lot of money. I can't see many people wanting to hulk around a tablet like that even if it is faster than an Atom. They may as well just buy an ultrabook, many of which are beginning to sport touch screens and of course have hinged lids so you can balance them on your legs or narrow trays.

I also think when Atom based tablets do appear and don't suffer the problems of the surface that people will take the performance hit for something which is a decent tablet and a usable laptop PC.

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Re: Monstrosity

From experience:

+ The fan is not audible in a typical office/conference environment. Win7/Win8 have good power/heat management on the core-i platform. Even my old 1st gen core-i tablet is resonably quiet and from all reads MS went to some extra length in sound reduction through design

+ The unit in tablet mode is around a kilogram. I know one person that has problems with my 12''/1100g tablet and that is a very thin, 159cm female. For her even the Note 10.1 is borderline...

+ Touch != WACOM stylus. Believe one that has years of experience

+ Touch (or even WACOM) on a notebook != tablet.

This type of unit can be used cradled in the left arm writing on it with the stylus in a way no "touch only" unit can. And it's core-i gives it access to some technologies (WIDI/Miracast) that are blocked to Atoms.

The only stupid thing MS did IMHO is offer this WITH snap-on keyboards instead of classic Slates.

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so here's the innovation

A laptop you can't use on your lap. Brilliant, wish I'd thought of that and secured worldwide patents.

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