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Best Windows 8 Hybrid Tablet - Microsoft Surface Pro
All About The Microsoft Surface Pro
The recent release of the Microsoft Surface Pro with Windows 8 has generated a lot of interest among techies and gadget freaks alike. In a nutshell, it is a hybrid version of a laptop, an ultrabook, and a tablet and, as surprising as it may sound, it works! Although it is being touted as a 'tablet', this device actually gives you the full power experience of a laptop or an ultrabook. There are many technical reviews and hands-on description of this product on the Internet.
Most of the reviews on the Internet highlight the cons of the Microsoft Surface Pro and have given a decent rating for this product. Imagine my surprise when I read actual customer reviews and found out that they disagree with the naysayers of this product on many counts. The main goal of this article is to find out what the owners of the Surface Pro tablet have to say about it. I have made a compilation of the basic features and benefits of this product, along with known issues and how to overcome them based on objective reviews by the customers of this tablet. I hope this helps you make an informed decision!
Who Should Buy the Surface Pro Windows 8 Tablet?
Many prospective customers want a comparison of this tablet with the iPad 4 or the Galaxy Tab. I think it is akin to comparing apples with trucks! Firstly, this device is not 'just a tablet'. Yes, you can browse, email, play angry birds, and update your social network accounts, as you would with any other tablet. But the similarity ends there. What you won't get with any other tablet is the ability to use the device as a full blown computer. This means you can use Office 2013, work with OneNote, play games, work spreadsheets, use Adobe Photoshop (and not just a $1 photo editing app), and pretty much do anything you would do on your Windows PC or laptop.
So, should you buy it? Well, if you want a completely functional laptop in a tablet format and don't want to lug around a laptop AND a tablet, you should go for this. It is a fantastic option for busy executives and those in the corporate world who want the portability of a tablet and the productivity of an ultrabook or a laptop. In fact, professional photographers have used this device for their work and have found it to rival their desktops. But, with a $1000 price tag (for the 128 GB tablet), the Microsoft Surface Pro may be overkill for those who just want to use it for light activities, like browsing and emailing.
Is Microsoft Surface Pro 128 GB with Windows 8 The Best Hybrid Tablet of 2013?
Customer Reviews of the Windows 8 Microsoft Surface Pro 128 GB
Here is a compilation of thoughts and opinions on this device by people who have bought this tablet and used it in the last month. Most of these customers have owned/still own products like the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPad 3/4, Acer Iconia A500, Nexus 10, Galaxy Tab, Surface RT, and so on. So these owners are not just Windows aficionados :-)
Build Quality and Design
The Surface Pro looks and feels stunning, according to customers. Most of them feel the material is smooth to the touch and the overall build quality is pretty high, matching its price tag. It is tough enough for the average wear and tear and is manufactured to perfection. When paired with the black touch cover, the tablet draws the attention of everyone nearby. Overall, it is definitely a looker and has a premium feel to it.
At 10.6 inches, the screen is smaller than the average ultrabook. But, the resolution is very high and makes for a bright and gorgeous screen. Some customers felt it is even better than the iPad's retina display. Photographers and graphic designers in particular will love the 1,920 x 1,080 screen to work with. A laser-sharp display combined with cleartype font is certainly easy on the eyes. If you want more screen real estate, you can scale the display size to 100% instead of the default 150%.
Operating System (OS)
The Windows 8 powered Microsoft Surface Pro can take a little getting used to, especially if you are not familiar with Windows 8. However, those with Windows 8 laptops and phones will find the transition pretty easy. Overall, this OS is great for this tablet and the best part is that it is fully compatible with any of your Windows 7 software. One customer says the Surface Pro with Windows 8 bench-marked at least 5 times faster than the iPad 4. The other advantage of this OS is that you can set it up with all your other Windows-run devices and systems. You can also connect it to work VPN, SQL server, shared printers, remote desktops, and so on. The touch interface of this OS is brilliant, making it a pleasure to use. You can also create multiple user accounts, making it easy to share this device with your kids (just make sure you have switched on Family Safety)
According to actual users, this tablet is blazing fast. It boots in a flash and shuts down equally fast. Several customers have pushed it really hard by running a lot of programs (MATLAB, Office 2013, streaming HD movies on Netflix, multiple downloads, etc) simultaneously and did not notice any significant lag. Of course, it will not replace your high-powered desktop but it is no slacker when it comes to speed. The i5 processor can handle pretty much anything you want, making switching between programs and apps a breeze.
While the Microsoft Surface Pro Windows 8 tablet cannot be compared to a gaming PC, you can still play some mid-core level games on it. Customers have played games, such as Portal 2, Half Life, Dead Space 2, Skyrim, Black Ops, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, etc. This definitely a step up from Angry Birds on other tablets.
The Surface Pro comes with a Touch cover (membrane keyboard) and a Type cover (keyboard with depressible keys), but these have to be bought separately. Customers are really impressed with the Type cover, which attaches magnetically to the tablet's bottom. While the small form factor takes some getting used to, it works great. The cover also lets the Surface go to sleep when it is closed. But the track pad has not gained many good reviews and doesn't come close to Apple's track pad. Many customers recommend getting a separate Bluetooth mouse.
Microsoft Surface Pro Video Review
More Great Features of the Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet
This is yet another impressive feature of the Surface Pro and is a good alternative to the track pad. It can recognize cursive handwriting, making it easy to write your notes on OneNote instead of typing them in. It comes in really handy if you want to insert big equations in Word. It has an eraser on the top, which makes it easy to erase mistakes or re-write sentences. You can also use it to navigate bookmarks in your browser. The Palm Block technology is especially helpful as it prevents your palm from messing what you write with your pen.
Battery Life and Fan Noise
This is one of the major 'disadvantages' cited by several technical reviewers. However, actual customers say they get an average of 5 hours of battery life on the Microsoft Surface Pro when it is in constant use. With light use, it lasts well over 8 hours. Many customers did not feel the battery was a problem as most of us are always near a power source anyway. A few tips offered by customers to prolong battery life are:
- Keep the tablet in hibernate mode when not using it as it powers back really fast
- Keep CPU usage to 50% when it is unplugged
Fan design gets a thumb up as it efficiently channels the hot air away from you when you use it. No major complaints on the noise factor.
Most of the customers were happy with the amount of usable space in this tablet. With a MicroSD slot, you can expand your storage even more. In fact, according to this ZDNet article on Surface Pro Disk Storage, the Surface Pro 128 GB has better storage than the MacBook Air 128.
Again, when you can use this device as a full blown computer, it does not matter if the Windows 8 store is not quite there yet. However, the app store is growing steadily and will definitely have more apps in the future for hybrid devices like the Surface Pro. Maybe the Surface RT or other Windows phones will make you feel the lack of apps, but who wants Angry Birds when they can play World of Warcraft? Even if you are keen on apps, you will find most of your favorite apps available in the Windows 8 store anyway.
This enables your Surface, your phone, and your computer to be connected to your personal Skydrive where you can share and edit files on all these devices. You can access them wherever you are.
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Known Drawbacks of the Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet
Here are the common complaints made by owners of this device:
- Need for more USB 3 ports (it comes with just one)
- If you are new to Windows 8, you may need some time to get used to it, depending on your learning curve. However, most users have said to love it after the initial hiccups.
- Magnetic power connector is sometimes hard to clip in
- It is lighter than a laptop but certainly heavy for a tablet. This makes reading an e-book cumbersome, especially if you are used to holding a tablet with one hand.
- Touch pad is not that great
- The pen has the same port as the power cord, making it impossible to have the pen and the charger connected simultaneously
- Needs a mini-Display port and not a microHDMI adapter, which means you have to buy a new one if you don't already have it
- The battery life of the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet may not be enough for some customers who have to use it constantly and are often away from a power outlet
The New Surface Pro 2 Reviewed!
Surface Pro vs Surface RT - A Quick Glance
Microsoft Surface RT
Microsoft Surface Pro
Defender + AppLocker and Group Policy support, as well as BitLocker technology
Does not support business and productivity apps
Supports all Windows 7 and Windows 8 apps, making it better for corporate users
Use any iPad compatible stylus
Pro-specific stylus that is extremely good
Lesser price, lesser productivity
Higher price, ability to use it as a full-blown computer
Surface RT comes with a 1,366 x 768 resolution
Surface Pro has a better display screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
RT has a USB 2.0 port
A mini-display port that lets you connect it to a large-screen monitor or television + a USB 3.0 port
Verdict - Microsoft Surface Pro with Windows 8
The Microsoft Surface Pro with Windows 8 comes in 64 GB and 128 GB. The 128 GB model is almost $1000 and it will cost you extra to buy the touch/type covers. Having said that, this device has got raving reviews and people who have the need and the money to match are not shying away from buying it. The problem is availability. The 128 GB Surface Pro is out of stock at the manufacturer's website but is available on Amazon at a slight premium. This is expected to drop once the product is readily available in the market.
Overall, the Surface Pro device is the only hybrid product in the market that has successfully bridged the gap between laptops and tablets. If you want a tablet that does not compromise on the functionality of a full blown computer, this product is highly recommended, going by the feedback from actual owners. It certainly seems to have earned the adoration of buyers within the short time it has been in the market.