Microsoft’s first attempt at an iPad-killing-tablet was a big fat fail. Well, that might not be entirely true, but for a tablet that cost around the same price as a Retina display iPad it was poorly specced, way overpriced and just didn’t give consumers enough of a reason to ditch Android or Apple.
Why The RT Version Failed.
It also didn’t help that Microsoft chose to release two versions confusing an already confused public. The RT version came first and hasn’t caught the tablet-buying world by storm at all. Mainly because it failed in several areas; it could only play RT apps; it was ridiculously overpriced, especially for a tablet that only offered a 720p screen; and Microsoft in their wisdom released it slap-bang in the middle of several high-profile budget tablet launches. Not their smartest hour.
There’s no doubt that the Pro is a much more capable piece of kit, under the sleek exterior it’s essentially a full-fat PC laptop, capable of playing games, photoshop – basically any normal PC software.
The downsides? Well, it’s really quite pricey; as much as £850 and it’s fairly bulky compared to most tablets – but despite that you’re getting a piece of kit that’ll run rings around almost any Ultrabook from last year.
Quite a lot actually. The Pro ditches the rather old-hat 720p screen for a proper 1080p screen, this obviously makes a massive difference when comparing the RT version and the Pro version. Essentially it’s like comparing an iPad 1 and the latest iPad – they’re basically worlds apart. Microsoft have ditched the HD video port for a mini display port, so if you plug it into a decent monitor you’ve got a very capable top-end desktop for Ultrabook money.
Elsewhere the Surface Pro has comes in either 64GB or 128GB versions, with the option to supplement storage with the use of a microSDXC slot – making it a better proposition when it comes to upgrading.
Design-wise Microsoft has had to make some changes due to the tablet using more traditional PC components – to this end they’ve moved the microSD card slot to the right-hand side panel, and added a USB 3.0 port instead of the USB 2.0 port.
Since the Surface Pro has an Intel Core i5 processor it needs some serious cooling. So now you’ll find two adaptive fans inside the tablet, the Surface Pro also keeps the camera on the back, a Skype-enabled camera on the front, and works with all existing Surface covers.
Obviously the tablet is considerably heavier than the Surface RT, and weighs around 900grams, which is 300 grams more than the RT version.
Microsoft has also added a new digitiser pen which is pressure sensitive, making it graphics-artist friendly. The button under the magnetic connector on the pen acts like the right-click button on a mouse. The pen and Surface Pro combo might not be enough to tempt hardcore artists away from their current kit, but you could certainly use it for casual sketching and signing documents.
The internal screen can be mirrored, extended, or turned off when you have the Surface Pro connected to a mini-DisplayPort monitor, with the tablet continuing to work fine via both touch and the digitiser pen even while the screen is off.
Well, we’re not entirely sure, as prices have only been unveiled for US customers which starts at $899, that should work out to be around £749 once it lands on our shores. Microsoft will obviously want customers to choose the 128GB version, and we expect that to retail for around £849 – which is around twice the price of a iPad.
Essentially, the Surface Pro shouldn’t be seen as a tablet, but a very capable high-end Ultrabook and that’s the way it has been priced. It’s as sleek as a tablet, but with the functionality of a laptop – and Microsoft hopes it will be the only device you need to carry.
More Surface Pro news as we get it.