Microsoft Surface Pro tablet

Microsoft’s Intel-powered tablet is fantastic, but somewhat flawed. We can live with that

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Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5
  • User Rating

    5.00 / 5 (of 1 Review)

Pros

  • Brilliant design
  • Great touchscreen display
  • Excellent add-on keyboard connector

Cons

  • Significant, inescapable compromise inherent in form factor
  • Mediocre battery life for a notebook, terrible for a tablet
  • Frustrating power connector

Bottom Line

Microsoft's full-fat Windows 8 tablet is hugely compromised, but that's part of its design. We found its versatility useful, but limiting at the same time.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

It’s no secret that we’ve been keenly waiting for the Surface Pro since it was first announced in June of last year.

Back then, we were told the Intel Core i5-powered, Windows 8 Pro-toting tablet would be released around three months after Windows 8 itself. In mid-January, Microsoft announced the release date of the Surface Pro, but only for North America.

We know that the ‘Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro’, as it’s officially called, is coming to Australia, but we just don’t know exactly when. We also know that Microsoft has some more accessories up its proverbial capacious sleeve.

With that in mind, we borrowed a 64GB version of the Surface Pro to see what it’s like to use — as a day-to-day PC, as a portable tablet, as a business machine, and for playing the odd game or two.

You can’t currently buy the Surface Pro in Australia officially through Microsoft, or any of Microsoft’s retail partners. We think that will probably change in the next 4 to 6 weeks, though. Until then, you can buy one off an importer like Expansys, who sent us our review unit.

Microsoft Surface RT (64GB) review

Microsoft Surface Pro: Design, features, and specs and accessories

There’s no getting around this — we think the Surface Pro is the best-looking device that has ever run Windows. It’s simple, elegant, sturdy, and versatile. No arguments. Thank you for reading.

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Viewed front-on, the only design flourish on the Surface Pro is a white Windows logo, which also serves as a Windows key. There’s a 720p forward facing camera in the top of the 20mm-thick piano black bezel, but that’s the only distraction from the tablet’s 10.6-inch screen.

The Surface Pro’s LED-edge-lit display operates at Full HD resolution — that’s 1920x1080 pixels. This is the same resolution that almost all of today’s plasma and LED TVs, and many 24-inch and 27-inch computer monitors, operate at, so to see it in a sub-11-inch tablet screen is very impressive.

Turn the Surface Pro over, and the simple approach to computing continues. The body of the Pro is made from cast magnesium alloy — Microsoft calls it VaporMg — and is reassuringly sturdy. There's another 720p camera on the back. The same sturdy flip-out kickstand as we saw on the Microsoft Surface RT takes up the lower half of the Surface Pro’s rear shell, clicking out to a single 26-degree angle — which is generally fine, but not always. Try to use the Surface Pro on your lap with the kickstand, and you'll feel like it's always just about to fall off.

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Inputs and output connectors, of the kind you’d hope to find on any PC running Windows these days, are distributed across the right and left rims of the Surface Pro. On the left, you’ll find a headphone/headset jack (you can use an iPhone/Android headset with integrated mic and volume control buttons), volume control buttons, and a single USB 3.0 port. On the right, a microSDXC port joins the Surface Pro’s magnetic power connector and a Mini DisplayPort video-out. The power/sleep button is up top. These connectors (apart from the power jack — more on that later) are excellent — they’re precision-cut, and their placement along the Surface Pro’s chamfered edges means that anything plugged in sits surely against the tablet’s body.

Microsoft has two Cover variants to accompany the Surface Pro, and you’re definitely going to want one of them. That’s just the way it is — so you may as well add another $150 to the Surface Pro’s price tag. It’d be silly to have the versatility of full Windows 8 Pro and not have a dedicated directly-connected keyboard and trackpad.

We used the thicker, proper-keyboard Type Cover with the Surface Pro — we think it’s better suited than the slimmer Touch Cover, which is not as useful if you're going to be typing often. The huge advantage of the Covers is that they’re detachable — for the few times you might not need them — and that they fold back behind the screen (where they are disabled) for when you want to keep them attached but not use them. The magnetic connection is super-strong, works perfectly, and we never had any problems with the keyboard not being recognised — this is a flawless keyboard accessory implementation, bravo Microsoft.

The Type Cover, and the magnetic accessory connector on the bottom of the Surface Pro.
The Type Cover, and the magnetic accessory connector on the bottom of the Surface Pro.

The box that the Surface Pro ships in is spare, but alongside the 48Wh charger (which also has a USB charging port built in — smart), you’ll find the Surface Pro’s bundled digitiser pen. The pen feels a little cheap — it’s plastic, in stark contrast to the Pro’s Iron Man shell — but it does a stand-up job as a sometime Desktop mode mouse replacement, for writing notes, or for graphics tablet work in an app like Sketchbook. You will probably lose it, though — there’s no place to store it in the Pro’s body.

Microsoft Surface Pro: Performance and benchmarks

The Surface Pro is built around identical specs to any other current-generation Intel Ultrabook. For all intents and purposes, the Pro will perform effectively identically to the ASUS VivoBook S400C, the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro, the Sony VAIO Duo 11 — it’s got the Intel Core i5-3317U, 4GB DDR3 RAM, Intel HD 4000 graphics, and 64GB or 128GB SSD blueprint that any tech-head will recognise. What this means is that it’s got more than enough power for general Web browsing, video watching, quick photo editing, or general business productivity, but it’ll struggle somewhat when it comes to more intensive tasks like Photoshop or HD video editing or gaming.

We ran the usual suite of benchmarks on the Microsoft Surface Pro, just for the heck of it. It returned a result of 45sec in Blender 3D, took 1min 2sec to convert a batch of MP3s in iTunes, and scored 4892 in PCMark 7. CPU performance is adequate, and as good or better than most desktop PCs or notebooks from any more than a couple of years ago, but you will get a more powerful processor in a proper non-Ultrabook notebook or any current desktop.

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Graphics performance is a similar story. The Core i5 CPU’s integrated HD 4000 graphics core returned a result of 4231 in 3DMark 06, and E1178 / P604 / X201 in 3DMark 11 — these results are not promising for running any modern 3D game. The Surface Pro just about limps along at 30 frames per second running Sim City at minimum quality at 720p resolution, and it’s doable, but try Battlefield 3 and the struggle is obvious. Just like any other Ultrabook or the MacBook Air, the Surface Pro is made to be used by someone who is at best a casual gamer.

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CrystalDiskMark returned results of 110MBps and 440MBps sequential write and read performance respectively for our Surface Pro’s 64GB SATA3 solid-state drive. These are perfectly acceptable read figures, but write performance is inferior to other SSDs we’ve tested. As we expected the tablet is quick to boot into Windows, quick to load up new programs, and generally snappy in day-to-day use.

You’re able to buy the Pro in 64GB or 128GB variants — given the 128GB model is only $100 more expensive, we’d almost certainly choose it out of the two. You can also use the microSDXC slot to boost storage by up to 64GB.

Microsoft Surface Pro: Software and day-to-day usage

The Surface Pro runs the full version of Windows 8 Pro. As such, it boots by default into Microsoft’s touch-driven Modern UI, with one-tap access to the Web, your mail, your social media services, weather, maps, and so on. The Microsoft App Store has access to various apps designed for touch and the Modern UI, although the catalogue is small at the moment. You can also use it just like a regular Windows 7 PC via the Desktop shortcut, and run all the programs you’re used to. One caveat — there’s no Start button, but that’s easily rectified by purchasing Start8 — tack another $5 onto the price tag, then.

We won’t go into detail on Windows 8’s ins and outs, but suffice to say that the Surface Pro is versatile. You can use it primarily as a touchscreen tablet in the Modern UI, you can use it primarily as a notebook with the keyboard in Desktop mode, or you can hit some compromise between the two. It works perfectly well in either way with a little bit of practice. You can plug in an external monitor and a USB mouse and use it just like a proper desktop PC, if you’re so inclined. For what it’s worth, we used it as a notebook on the Desktop about two-thirds of the time, and hand-held as a touchscreen Modern UI tablet for the remainder.

The battery life of the Surface Pro is OK. We measured it at 5 hours and 47 minutes of constant 720p video playback at half screen brightness on Power Saver mode with Wi-Fi on. Switch to High Performance mode and maximise brightness, and this figure drops to 3 hours and 35 minutes. You’re able to eke another hour out when you’re doing light-duty tasks like Web browsing (or writing this review). These are mediocre results that are a necessary result of the all-in-one design.

Like any other ultraportable, you’re able to unplug it and laze on the couch, or take it for an extended train journey, or have a long work meeting and then watch a movie at lunch. It’s not going to stand up to a full work day or an international plane journey without visiting the charger, though. This is a compromise that anyone who’s used a thin and light notebook is familiar with; if you’re comparing the Surface Pro to an iPad or Nexus 10 or any ARM device the battery life gap is less forgivable.

Oh Surface Pro power connector, how we loathe thee. The connector doesn't always sit securely in the port, so you'll think it's charging when it's not.
Oh Surface Pro power connector, how we loathe thee. The connector doesn't always sit securely in the port, so you'll think it's charging when it's not.

Tangentially related to battery life is the Surface Pro’s power connector. The magnetic power jack is one of the most annoying things about using the Surface Pro every day. After living with and loving a series of MacBooks with Apple’s peerless MagSafe connector, we were bitterly disappointed to find that the Microsoft solution is not nearly as easy to use — the magnetism is very weak, and the connector doesn’t sit entirely securely once it’s clipped in.

Sometimes we clipped it in only for the Windows charging indicator to flash on and off, and it’s possible for the magnets to hold the connector against the Surface Pro’s charging port without making electrical contact. Most of the time it works, but not always — and it’s those times that are so frustrating, and so disappointing given how excellent the magnetic Cover connector is.

As we alluded to earlier, the Surface Pro’s 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD touchscreen looks excellent. It’s incredibly detailed at 208ppi, it’s got a high enough maximum brightness to make it usable outdoors in daylight and overcome the very glossy finish, and it’s vibrant and colourful with reasonable colour accuracy out of the box. Being a proper Windows PC, you’re also able to calibrate it for near-spot-on colour accuracy if you’re so inclined. Viewing angles are fantastic vertically and nearly fantastic along the horizontal axis.

The Surface Pro's display is very glossy. Here's it's reflecting the ceiling; in a bright room it doubles as a mirror until you turn on the screen.
The Surface Pro's display is very glossy. Here's it's reflecting the ceiling; in a bright room it doubles as a mirror until you turn on the screen.

The screen’s 16:9 ratio is a smart choice, making the Pro a natural fit for streaming or downloading movies and TV shows. You’ll get an academically better screen in a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, or a more detailed one in an iPad 4 or a iPhone 5 or any Full HD smartphone, but the compromise between size, detail, brightness, portability and aspect ratio feels just right in the Surface Pro.

The screen, and the metal body, and the Type Cover, are fingerprint magnets on the Surface Pro. Oleophobic coating or no, use the tablet for a day of Windows 8 tapping and swiping, keyboard typing and scrolling, and general carrying about, and it gets noticeably grimy. This is true of any glossy touchscreen device, and it’s not really the Surface Pro’s fault, but it is something to consider. When we used it day-to-day, we took to carrying the power adapter around in a cleaning-cloth case, and our standard procedure was to set up the tablet, plug in the power, and give the screen and body a quick wipe-over. That’s not something we’d bother with for a notebook or a smartphone.

Microsoft Surface Pro: Our closing thoughts

The Surface Pro is a computing device with a lot of compromises inherent in its design.

Analyse it as an optimist, and you’ll see a high-powered tablet that has an add-on keyboard, and more accessories on the way, with a clean touch interface that becomes standard powerful Windows with a few clicks. It’s incredibly well built, can stand up on its own, can be used just like an iPad or just like an Ultrabook. It’s got enough battery power for a day of use as a tablet, enough power for business tasks, it’s portable, it’s versatile.

Analyse it as a pessimist, and you’ll see a bulky, heavy tablet that needs a pricy accessory to work properly, with a stand that only works at one angle, with terrible battery life, mediocre computing performance, running an operating system that doesn’t know what it wants to be, with a touchscreen pen you’ll lose, and an unreasonably high price tag.

We happen to sway closer to the former. If you look at the Surface Pro with the understanding that the compromises are necessary for it to be the size that it is, with the power that it has, with the operating system that it uses, it’s an impressive technological feat. An iPad can’t really be used to replace a desktop PC in a business environment, not properly. An Ultrabook can’t really be used to watch a movie while you’re standing up on the train, not properly.

In our fortnight with the Surface Pro we used it in Desktop mode for a couple of days of typing reviews, news and features for this website. We used it in the Modern UI running touchscreen Internet Explorer browsing the ‘net, watched movies in bed with the kickstand, read The Hunger Games (don’t judge us!) in portrait mode like an e-reader. Having this versatility is a godsend — we haven’t used our Kobo Arc that is usually on Netflix and Reddit duty, or the 15-inch notebook that normally handles review writing and couch-side Web browsing, and our gaming PC will continue to get slightly less use if we can tolerate low-res Sim City.

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The Surface Pro is a lot more than an iPad in some ways, and a lot less than an Ultrabook in the same way. We happen to think it’s fantastic for our use case. Whether it’s right for you is down to your own personal requirements — consider everything that you want the Surface Pro to do, consider if there’s something else that will do that better, and then make a decision.

The Surface Pro isn’t out in Australia yet — it’s currently only widely available in the US and Canada. We think it’ll probably be available locally in 4 to 6 weeks. Until then, you can order one from an importer like Expansys, who loaned us a 64GB review unit.

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Danny

1

Would it prove more beneficial to buy the Surface pro or a different portable laptop for a student with photoshop needs, and a lot of casual gaming (LoL/Sim City). I am very interested in getting this because of it's tablet is made/designed by wacom or so I hear? It'd be good to have a portable computer I can use as a computer and then use it seconds later as a GFX tablet, but I do have a cintiq already. Hmmm.

Decisions decisions...

Campbell Simpson

2

Danny - The Surface Pro's CPU and GPU should handle LoL just fine, and I'm hoping with a driver update or two Sim City should be consistently playable. There are a few slow-downs every now and then in-game, but I'm confident they're code- or driver-related rather than the Surface Pro throttling due to heat.

The digitiser pen that comes with the Pro *is* good -- I had fun mucking around with SketchBook Express. It's pressure-sensitive of course. I don't know enough to be an authority on whether it's perfectly suited to graphics tablet work, but I recommend you read Penny Arcade's review - it gets a proper work-out there: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2013/02/22/the-ms-surface-pro

For student work, and graphics work, I'd give serious consideration to screen size. The Pro is only 11-inches, which might be troublesome for tracking what's going on with your Photoshopping unless you've got a bigger screen connected too. I think the decision is the all-in-one-ness of the Surface Pro, versus the ease of use (with necessary bulk) of a larger laptop and accompanying graphics pad.

For what it's worth, I'm almost certainly going to buy one, and I have computers all over the damn place already.

Reg Orwell

3

"Mediocre battery life for a notebook" - geez "5 hours and 47 minutes of constant 720p video playback" plus "another hour out when you’re doing light-duty tasks" is better than the Macbook Air, widely considered the top ultra book before it was an Intel category.

JV

4

I really can not wait for the Pro to come out in Australia. Our biz is going to use a dozen instead of laptops, much more impressive to show to clients. Better than some scungy ipad. I hope MS has a dock for plugging in a proper keyboard and mouse and power and monitor coming soon though.

Petet

5

I've ordered mine (the 128gb) from the states and someone is picking it up for me. I can't wait for it. Its my dram device...

btw the wacom stylus DOES have a place to store it...it magnetically clips onto the power slot..you should probably correct that from your review. Its incredible how many reviews spin the same myth.

Dirk

6

I love my surface pro!! I am a student engineer and I have completely gotten rid of notebooks. The watcom pen is the most accurate I have ever used and I can just about write as small on the surface as I did in notebooks. Plus with Onenote it is all neatly organized. Also I run 3d cad design software and am able to work on parts with no problems. Obviously for real heavy computations I just remote into my desktop and do it there. It is the perfect tablet for my lifestyle!! Goodbye ios cant say i got too much useful done with you.

Von

7

I have a Surface Pro 128 gig, loaded with Photoshop, Illustrator, and DorelDraw. Added a 64 gig flash card and hot spot to my LTE phone and I need nothing else to conduct business on the road. Can not even compare this to a typical tablet...try editing a Photoshop file on a, aint going to happen. The Pro runs it like my desktop...Had a presentation to do, just plugged in the adapter and PowerPoint away....simply awesome, no hoops to jump through. This is an adult device to do real work, not playing games fart apps. I would recommend the Surface Pro to anyone over a typical tablet. I would recommend the little mouse they offer also works perfectly and make it feel more like a desk top.

T

8

I do a lot of work in Word - wiritng documents etc for major organisations. Can anyone tell me, does the Surface Pro have a full version eg: can I track changes (essential in my business with lots of draft docs going to clients for review)? I'm looking for a powerful business tool, not a toy!

Campbell Simpson

9

Petet - clipping the stylus onto the power connector is possible, sure, but it's simply not a viable place for *storage*. Every time you take the Surface Pro in and out of a bag, the pen falls off. Every time you need to plug in the power, you've got to put the pen somewhere.

It's not a viable solution - like trying to carry your phone and keys and wallet in a pair of jeans with only one pocket.

T - yep, you can buy Office 2013 or Office 365 for the Surface Pro, both of which have Track Changes in Word. It comes with a Starter Edition pre-installed but that's just a teaser. It'll run all your office programs with no problems at all.

steve

10

I am typing this on a surface pro. I have been using iPad since they were launched and the surface pro (using the onscreen keyboard) is vastly superior. The ipads biggest flaw is the inability to write quickly and effectively. With surface you can get by without attaching a keyboard. Add in the fact that the iPad is a consumer product and surface is about business I think there is a bright future. I think Microsoft should have launched only 128gb versions and what they should have done for an option is an atom processor based version that would be slimmer and lighter. I think the next generation of surface does not need to be so powerful. The weight is the only drawback.

Oh, I consume the battery on mine every day and need to constantly plug it in, but I actually USE this thing. The iPad could go weeks without use and needing a charge because it was good for fun apps only and not serious work.

faculty

11

T, check out Office 365 and if you are a student with a .edu email address the deal is even better. If a student, for $79 you get a 4-year license for the Office Professional Suite downloaded on 2 devices plus 20gb on skydrive storage plus 60 skype minutes a month. So yes the surface pro can run this.

Alistair

12

I haven't bought the Pro yet, because I am not sure I trust the online importers. It's available through several. But I know that in the case of at least one importer, the stock is actually in Hong Kong. Which means: the device will have to be shipped in through Customs, GST will have to paid, plus a Customs processing fee of almost $50, which adds considerably to the advertised price. It also means the shipping delivery may be slow. I would hate to pay over the odds and go through all that, only to find that while my machine is sitting in Customs, Microsoft launch it here officially! And finally, the warranty on an imported machine will only be provided by the vendor (since Microsoft's h/ware warranty is country-specific). If there's a problem, you are totally dependent on the customer service of a single vendor.

Anyway, the PC Mag review is excellent, very fair. The thing about computers is that there's ALWAYS compromise between: mobility/portability, battery life, functionality, performance, usability, and cost. Compared to the Surface Pro, an iPad is more mobile/portable, has better battery life, is cheaper and is arguably more user-friendly. But it falls way behind in performance and functionality (because it isn't a "full" desktop OS). A laptop (like the 15" MacBook Pro I am using now, with 8GB RAM and both OSX and Windows) has more power, more functionality and in some ways, is more usable (backlit keyboard, bigger screen, built-in DVD drive, more ports etc, though no touch screen). But it is also more expensive and less portable (can't use it standing up).

It's really just a question of balancing or prioritising which compromises work for you, and which don't. In my case, I no longer need the full power of the MBP and would appreciate something easier to carry around (and something that doesn't require a keyboard when I am simply browsing the web while crashed in front of the TV, or sitting on the balcony reading email while watching the sun come up). But there are many other times that I need more functionality than an iPad can offer, and I don't want two machines. So I plan to give my MBP to my daughter (who's in uni and needs to replace her laptop), and get the Surface Pro myself.

Now it's just a question of deciding whether I have the patience to wait for the official launch, or am I prepared to take the "risk" of buying from an importer? Decisions, decisions!

Leon Tribe

13

I bought mine from the Microsoft Store in Seattle a few weeks ago and brought it back to Sydney. I'm loving it. I use it to read my emails on the way to work, in Outlook, without the keyboard, and use OneNote for my business meetings (OneNote auto-syncs back to Skydrive so it is immediately available on my work laptop).

Using it between work and home and during meetings makes the battery life irrelevant to me. Similarly, with SkyDrive, the SDD storage is plenty for my everyday needs.

Buthus

14

I really don't understand why every review is pointing out that the Surface Pro Pen does not have a silo on the device to put it in. I am actually really happy about this fact. I had other devices with pens before which could be stored in the device itself. The pens are always tiny (I have big hands) and you loose them as well. And then you have to get the same (overprized) pen again, otherwise your device has "a hole" where the pen should go. I think not having a silo for the pen is actually beneficial and I am most likely going to get a different pen which feels better in my hands than the standard one anyway.

Enigmatic

15

You mentioned "inescapable compromise inherent in form factor" several times, but I honestly don't know what exactly you are referring to.

Can you actually go into some additional details about what EXACTLY has been compromised, espceially given how emphatically you reiterated this point several times?

If you are simply talking about the already known and understandable compromises that ALL tablets have to make, then why even make it a con??? Basically every single tablet has that con, which actually makes it standard!

Paul

16

been reading the review with interest. Been tossing up between the Surface Pro and Thinkpad 2. My main use will be office (word, onenote, and outlook) and the need to use hand writing recognition. Could you provide your thoughts on which way to go

Fernando

17

Firstly let me say that I'm a Apple junkie having a Mac at home, an iPAD, and an iPhone. I bought a MacBook Air because I wanted something lighter than the brick of a laptop my work provides, especially since I spend a lot of time traveling. I was assured by Apple staff that it was a perfect solution and that with Bootcamp I would have the best of both worlds. Needless to say that's where everything went wrong. I can't use the machine at work because of Apple's hatred of Java and other system incompatibilities. I heard about this new machine coming on the market by Microsoft and despite my pref for Macs had a mate buy one in the states and bring it to me. The machine is amazing, at least for what I use it for... it has a friendly user interface and I can use it as substitute for my work laptop at 1/4 the size and almost the same in weight. It is very fast, slick and runs the full Microsoft 2013 suite which is brilliant. Not being a gaming junkie, its limitations on that front mean nothing to me. On the other hand I have an extensive movie library which plays beautifully on the machine when I need it to, especially on long flights. Is it the computing answer for all people no, nor should people looking at it expect it to be. However for many like me who want portability and performance it's hard to go past this little beast. The machine is definitely a beta product and future generations will offer more addressing some of its weaknesses like battery performance which needs to be worked on and others listed by reviewers. Still, I think Microsoft has a winner and if I were them I'd head hunt the entire Apple marking team (the best in the industry) to get the message across about what a truly remarkable product the Surface Pro is... BTW I have a new MacBook Air with Micosoft Office for Mac hardly used which I'm trying to get rid off. Cheers from a convert!

Alistair

18

Fernando ... happy to hear you're pleased with the Surface Pro, as I too am planning to get one. I am bit confused by your comments re the MacBook Air, though. I have a 15" MacBook Pro (which I will be passing on to my daughter as soon as I get the Surface Pro!) and have no trouble running Windows on it, including Java.

I have Windows 7 Pro installed using Boot Camp and also have Parallels Desktop Virtual Machine installed. I can boot directly into Windows (that is, not run OSX at all). Or I can boot into OSX and then run Windows over that as a virtual machine, using Parallels. Either way, Windows and OSX have no interaction with each other (they can "see" each others drive partitions as network folders, but at the code level, they are isolated from each other).

Consequently, you can do whatever you like with Windows: install and use Java, Flash and whatever Windows apps you like. Meanwhile, on the OSX side, I don't have Java or Flash, but it doesn't matter, as most of the time, I am running both operating systems at the same time anyway.

If you install Windows on the Mac using Boot Camp, then you can boot the Mac directly into Windows (not run OSX at all). To do this, you need an installable copy of Windows (that is, a Windows installer DVD). Alternatively, if you don't have an installer disc but do have an existing laptop with a Windows installation that you're happy with, you can just bring that over to the Mac as a virtual machine.

To do this, you'll need Parallels Desktop. Using Parallels, you could for example "import" the entire Windows installation off your work laptop. On the Mac, you'll run this as a virtual machine, using Parallels. That means you won't be able to boot the Mac directly into Windows. Instead, you'll boot the Mac into OSX, then launch Windows as a VM. Works like a charm. And if you imported Windows from your work computer (as I did once, before I decided I wanted the ability to boot into Windows directly), all your security domain credentials and user accounts will be there, just as they were on your work laptop.

Furthermore, as far as Microsoft is concerned, this is perfectly legal. Why? Because as an operating system, Windows is licensed to run a hardware installation. But when you run it as a virtual machine, you're not actually running any hardware. This is why you can legally "import" and run an existing Windows installation as a virtual machine, but if you want to make it bootable (so that it does run the hardware), you must use a Windows installation disc.

Ashley

19

Can anyone assist me? I have also bought a Surface Pro back from the US and of course have a USA power sourceplug to recharge battery. Can't seem to find out how I can get an australian adapter. As referenceto Leon Tribe comments earlier, how do I charge? How did you do it leon?
My email address is acb0903@hotmail.com

Thanks

Den

20

when you write with the pen can it turn that into text?

Fernando

21

Alistair... Thanks for the suggestions some of which I'd actually already tried. My problem with the Mac Air is specific to the VPN software my employer uses. It simply will not work on the Mac Air even with Boot Camp and running Windows. I have spent a great deal of time with Apple staff and my company's own tech team trying to resolve the problem to no avail and in the end have given up. The fact that in a couple of hours I could all of the software I needed to run working on the Surface Pro which I couldn't do on the Mac Air leads me believe that it is an Apple issue. The staff at my local Apple store have literally spent hours over weeks trying to help me out with one Genius spending 5 hours with me in one day alone calling the US trying to sort it out. It was after that last attempt that the Genius said just get rid of it and offered me a refund. In the end it was just a case of wrong machine for my needs.

Danny

22

I have had my Surface Pro (128GB one) for 3 weeks now and I absolutely love it. It does everything I need it to do and more. I have been so impressed at what it can do. Even though it is marketed as a tablet it is so much more than a tablet. I think of it as a PC first and Tablet second. It runs everything I have thrown at it including Photoshop. Going to try AutoCad next just to see how it handles it.

Paul - I have tested with the Thinkpad 2 and I would stay clear of it. I found it considerably slower and underpowered. The processor on it is honestly barely enough to run windows 8. I also had the pen stop working only to find out that it is a known problem. For the price difference I would recommend the Surface Pro.

Ashley - All you need is a power adapter, one that changes the connection from North American to Australia. You can buy them at Dick Smith for around 5 dollars. The power adapter for the Pro has built in converter so no power converter required.

Overall I have been really happy with my Surface Pro.

Amy

23

I love my Surface Pro. I, too, had the feeling that it was slipping from my lap. Be forewarned that if it does, the attached keyboard may not provide it any protection because it is opened. I cracked the screen when mine dropped 3 days after I purchased it. Luckily, I had purchased an accidental damage plan so it was replaced because the screen was cracked and broken beyond repair. I bought another protection plan for the replacement.... I'm clumsy.

Sam

24

Can anyone comment on "real world" battery performance ... I am concerned by some of the reviews heavy emphasis on poor battery life performance.
I have a core i5 1080p work laptop that struggles to get through a 2 hour meeting without dying ... and the surface pro is roughly equivalent in spec. Performance wise I am sure it will handle my needs fine (excel and powerpoint are my normally applicaitons) ... but if I am shelling out a noticeable amount of money I need it to be a suitable replacement with a realistic prospect of getting me through 2-3 hour meetings without a charge.

Also anyone compared it to a W700 which would appear to be the closest competitor? However, I can only find it on less reputable stores here in Australia ... would prefer to be buying with a little more confidence ...

Milthon

25

For u Sam, I bought a surface rt and it is really disappointing.
1. the battery doesnot last more than other tablets. I use this tablet every day and I can see how other cheaper tablets can last more hours.
2 headphone port problems.
3 Hard to take notes. If u are a student. better buy an ipod. the screen of the RT doesnot work well with pens available in the market. notetaking much better in any other tablet.
4 pdf files resolution is really bad compared to other tablets.
5 no apps to do what you could do with any other tablet.
6 I really suggest if u want to buy atablet buy whatever but not this piece of sh-t

Buying this microsoft tablet was the worst mistake I have ever done. fck

Paul

26

Milthon - "no apps to do what you could do with any other tablet." One of the points of the Pro is that you are not restricited to "Apps". You may install whatever windows based software you like. not being restricted to "apps" is a game changer for me!

Michael

27

Just a quick question I do a lot of work with excel and word processing can I save documents from the surface pro and open them up in a proper windows pc and vice versa and print em out aswell

Crystal

28

Hi, I'm an university student and I'm looking out for a tablet with a detachable keyboard. I want a tablet to do some mini work in school during my break using programs such as Microsoft word, pp and excel and to be able to access the net with wifi. The problem with my lectures is that I can take down everything in time and if I am going to use 'pen and paper', I will be wasting alot of paper just to rewrite my notes when I'm home.
I already have a laptop at home but it is a substitute for a normal computer so it is huge and heavy.
I was thinking between the Ipad and this, Microsoft surface pro.
Which would you recommend??

Ken Jones

29

How dose it compare to the Acer W700

Arar

30

I have been creating digital artworks on my iPad since last year and so far I think I have improved a bit and now I'm taking this hobby to a new level of creativity and I thought the Surface Pro would be an awesome device for creating digital artworks since it can run Photoshop, Corel and ther desktop drawing/painting software. P.S. I pre-ordered one and I just can't wait to but it on the 30th of May.. :D

Topcat

31

Does Microsoft have plans for a full-size Qwerty plug-in keyboard for the Surface Pro?

sanda

32

My spouse bought me a Surface Pro tablet two days after its release in NYC, a birthday present (my 73rd). Since I'm still a newbie on computers after 5 years, I like the Touch tiles a lot. About a month ago, I had a major shock: the stand broke as I was pulling off the type cover (I like the cover a lot). I heard a loud "CRACK" sound: it appears that the stand is plastic, not the same metal as the body of the tablet.
My husband took it back to the Microsoft store and they immediately replaced the tablet (not the type cover), transferring my files while he waited. Note: I'm old, ill and weigh about 108 lbs. "wet". That I could break the cover so easily still has me jittery.

Danny

33

Sam - I currently can get about 4 - 4 1/2hrs battery life on my surface pro and I use it or anything from excel to drawing.

Michael - Think of it as a computer. So if you have office on the Surface pro then it's like saving a document on one computer and opening it up on another. So whatever you can do on a pc you can pretty much do on the Surface pro.

Crystal - I am currently a Uni student and I use this on my trips to and from Uni on the train. One of the great features I really like is if you have Adobe Acrobat X and Office 2010 or higher you can use the Pen to write notes on documents. For example I download the notes from Blackboard which can be word or pdf. I open them up with the appropriate application and I can write my own notes on them or highlight them and then save. Great thing is you do not need an additional apps if you have access to these application already.
cover).

I am super happy with my Surface Pro. I do reccomend the type keyboard since you can use it from your lap where as the touch keyboard you need a flat solid surface to use.

Arar

34

Just purchased my Surface Pro today. My problem now is how I'll be able to transfer the painting software from my laptop to the Surface, anyone? Than you.

Damian

35

Arar - If you have the Painting software CD or DVD copy the content of that to a USB drive and then connect that USB to Surface Pro (Surface Pro has a full size USB) and open the installation file. you may need a large USB drive. I installed Office using this method( I have 2TB USB3 hard drive). Alternatively if you have a home network you can access Laptops DVD drive (after sharing) directly through the network and install the software. Surface Pro even can join the domain network.

Milthon - First you are commenting about Surface RT not about the subject of this article. This article is about surface Pro, which is a different product. Surface pro is truly a tablet with the power of a computer or a Notebook. It can run any application you run on a computer. So if there are no apps in the store no problem there are millions of PC based programs for every humans needs.

Second you should do your own research about what you need before you buy something that is not match your needs.

Thirdly you are suggesting Sam to get an iPod ?? You mean IPad.
Looking at the comment I think you may need a paper notebook and a pen to take notes, specially language before commenting in a public website.

pahollow

36

Yep--now that I have one it is great but as others have said, it needs a hub option (maybe a special moulded thing) that snaps onto the keyboard port and folds backward would be the best way.

Also and critically (a little string tether) that ties to the side of the unit and end of the pen like the earlier tablet and slate PC's is the go. Even if MS works out a way to dock the pen inside the unit it will still be a great idea to have a tether too - so we don't loose the pen (and that is kinda a given) because it falls off. This thing could work across the full life experience of work, home and home office. So gen 2.0 of the Surface Tablet to make it pretty much perfect and more mainstream:

- Intel Haswell processor for better battery, less heat and other goodies such as WiDi support
- A clever hub moulded (maybe magnetic like the keyboard) with extra USB's x 2, HDMI in and out, audio, Ethernet, display port and VGA
- 3G/4G sim slot or at the very least an optional version
- Better magnetic power connector because even though it is better than the Surface RT it is still a little fiddley compared with the (hardly have to look) keyboard connection process

Microsoft needs to make sure that the Store has all of the popular apps and by now whenever an app is promoted, it should show all three app stores (i.e. Apple Store, Android Store AND Microsoft or MS Store). We just never see MS store promoted and that will mean that people buy into Apple and Google without even thinking -especially with the "no worries" and "she'll be right" attitude that still prevails in Australian culture...

Neil

37

Can't believe the reviewer did not notice that the pin fits magnetically onto the charger port.

Kevin

38

Hi All.
Can some one please clarify - can the desktop resolution be set to a lower setting eg 1024 x 768 or is it fixed to 1920 x 1080 or 1366 x 768 px
Thanks for any insight.

Brendan

39

Kevin you can lower the resolution but on the surface screen it will actually just use less of the screen so you end up with a black border. It works fine on external monitors (I have a USB hub). However the Windows 8 DPI scaling works a treat!

Steep

40

I am impressed with the specs of the Surface Pro however before purchasing one I wonder if anyone knows if I can transfer progs from an external USB DVD unit to the Surface Pro through the USB port. I have several older Microsoft progs including Office 2010 and Micrsoft Money which I would need to have on the Surface Pro. Thanks in anticipation.

Michael

41

Can it be plugged directly into a hotel cable modem as well as wi fi use .Tablets can't and most hotels don't have a wi fi hot spot in the room. I am about to move from a regular lap top to either this or a tablet. I don't want to find a wi fi hot spot every time I want to use the replacement device.

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Paul Berend

5.0

1

Pros
Very powerful ultra book which is extremely user friendly. The removable touch key board is great and very easy to get used to
Cons
Some standard windows 7 applications default to the Windows 8 UI unexpectedly. Also there are very few useful Windows 8 apps in the Microsoft store
• • •

I have been working on a daily basis with a Surface Pro 128 G for about a month. I sourced the machine via MobiCity and the product was delivered in about a week with a US plug.
A lot of reviewers are confused about what the Surface Pro is and subsequently compare it to just about anything , an IPAD to a fully fledged gaming PC. The Surface Pro is essentially an ultra-book which can instantly become a tablet for those moments when you want to surf the web or watch a video. It is super portable and will crunch any desktop application you can throw at it. The screen and touch keyboard are excellent but for extended periods of office work I use a Bluetooth keyboard and a Bluetooth wedge mouse. I also connect to an external 27 inch screen and it works absolutely fine. I also have experienced no issues with the magnetic power connector which is powerful and has a little led light to indicate when it works. The Surface can run roughly 4hours on its battery whilst doing standard office work (with network access and printing) which is fine by ultra-book standards but obviously not by tablet standards. The Surface Pro is targeted at mobile professionals who want to increase their productivity. The Touch screen and pen work very well and I often take meeting notes with the pen using the excellent writing recognition software which comes with the Surface. Getting the knack of using the pen does take a little time but the investment in time pays off. One thing which does annoy me is the fixing mechanism of the pen which basically magnetically glues itself to the power inlet. This means you cannot charge the Surface without removing the pen which is a formula for loosing it. Also I found that in practice the pen gets knocked off when you move the Surface around. So the magnetic pen holder should be avoided absolutely. Another criticism relates to 128 G SSD which is a bit short. There should be a 256 G version. The 64 G SSD version is clearly ridiculous for professionals.
As long as you accept that the Surface Pro is targeted at nomadic professionals (not students watching downloaded movies or hard core gamers) it is a fantastic machine, and all my colleagues would have seen the Surface Pro in operation have been blown away. I have traditionally been anti- Microsoft ... until now. The Surface rocks...

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