Microsoft has announced pricing for Surface Pro, its own-brand tablet running Windows 8. Quick summary:
- 64GB is $899
- 128GB is $999
UK pricing has not been announced, but if it follows the pattern of Surface RT we can expect around £720 and £799.
These prices include a free Surface pen, but not a Touch or Type keyboard cover. Since this is one of the best features of Surface, you can add around $120 or £100 (a little more for the Type cover) to the price.
Here’s why you don’t want a Surface Pro:
- Unlike Surface RT, this tablet runs any Windows application, most of which do not work well with touch control. So you will need that keyboard and trackpad or mouse, making it an awkward thing versus an iPad or, in some ways, a traditional laptop.
- The spec is a long way from cutting-edge. Screen is 1920×1080 pixels, versus 2048-by-1536 on a cheaper Apple iPad. Core i5 has been around a while. Storage spec is poor – even 128GB is small by current standards, my Samsung Slate from February had a 256GB SSD – and the cameras seem no better than the basic ones in Surface RT. 4GB RAM is also minimal for a new Windows machine.
- This thing is not cheap. With the keyboard, it is nearly double the cost of a Surface RT, and you don’t get Office 2013 thrown in – Home and Student is around $100 or £85.
- Microsoft is including a pen. Why? It does not clip into the Surface so you will lose it, and a pen, while fantastic for taking notes or sketching in tablet mode, is less good than a mouse or trackpad for most other operations.
- Battery life half that of Surface RT: ouch.
- Do not compare this with an iPad. It only makes sense if you want or need to run Windows. It is even less like an iPad than Surface RT.
A failure? Not necessarily. Here is why you do want a Surface Pro:
- It is a little bigger than Surface RT, but much smaller than the average laptop, even with the keyboard cover, and it is all you need on your trip. I find laptops bulky and awkward now.
- Performance will be much better than Surface RT. I presume it better my existing Samsung Slate, which has an older Core i5, and that is already a zippy performer.
- The Surface is well made and designed. The only problem I am aware of with Surface RT is fraying keyboard seams, which I hope will be fixed in later production runs. The flip-out stand works well and the keyboard covers are excellent.
- That USB 3.0 port is a big asset. Of course Surface RT should have had this as well. You can attach as much storage as you need with great performance, or other devices.
The question is this: what other laptop or Windows 8 slate will be better than a Surface Pro, all things considered? You will easily find a better spec for the money, but when you evaluate the complete package Surface Pro may still be a winner.
That said, we have not yet seen Surface Pro and my judgment is based on combining what I know about Surface RT with my experience of the Samsung Core i5 slate.
The internal storage limitation is my biggest concern. 64GB is hopeless and 128GB still too small. There is a microSDXC card slot, and a sizeable card will be pretty much essential, again increasing the real-world price.