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Review Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet

Tobias Winkler (translated by B Schulisch), 04/12/2013

A balancing act. The Surface Pro is an interesting concept tablet that Microsoft developed to showcase the strength of the Windows 8 platform on a touch-capable device. This is another Wintel collaboration that is able to use the ecosystem of apps available for the X86 Windows platform. This review points out the strengths and weaknesses of this form-factor.

For the original German review, see here.

The Microsoft Surface RT had a number of disadvantages regarding its relevance to the normal user. It was always going to be bogged down by incompatibilities with the existing software ecosystem developed around the X86 version of Windows 8. The Surface Pro is the device that is similar to the Windows RT tablet but uses the established Intel processor technology. The advantages are abundantly obvious: Windows compatible software and hardware can both be used without problems, in the same way as other Windows PCs, which circumvents the requirement for additional accessories or to wait for custom applications. Apart from this, the available hardware including everything from a hard drive to a shared printer or a DVB-T receiver can be used without any compatibility issues. This means that development and user costs are low for this device.

Right now, the Microsoft Surface Pro isn’t available in Germany and the website does not mention any date of availability. For the purposes of this review we used a US model with a storage capacity of 64 GB. The other option available for sale is the 128 GB version. We can only speculate on the price of the device when it is made available in Germany and we estimate it to be around the 800 Euros (~$1050) mark.

Case

The device is mostly edges and sharp corners that make it stand-out among other devices with the same form-factor. The magnesium alloy case is well made and the individual elements have been assembled with precision. The rigidity of the case is very good, and can be directly compared to that of the iPad. The kickstand integrated into the back which allows the device to be propped up, proves itself to be very practical; although we need to point out that there is only one position possible.

The powerful hardware components and the material of construction contributed to the weight of the device which came out to be about 920 grams. This may be light enough for comfortable transportation in a sleeve or in a bag, but not for holding in one hand for anything longer than a few minutes. Our comparison device, the iPad 3 is almost 300 grams lighter at 650 grams, making it much more comfortable to hold in one hand. We expected the thickness of the device to negatively impact the user experience but we found it to be a decent form-factor to hold making it comfortable to use with one hand for at least short periods.

Connectivity

To make the device appeal to businesses, Microsoft has included the mini-Display port and the mini-HDMI port for external display connections. We were not able to check if the ports were able to output a higher resolution than 1080p as we did not have the appropriate monitor at the time of writing this review. The device does not include a Thunderbolt port. The USB port present was the faster USB 3.0 version which allowed us reach read speeds of 238 MB/s using a solid state external hard drive.

Under the Windows logo, there is a form of docking port that allows for the integration of an external keyboard if necessary. There are no other ports on the device. On the right side of the tablet, there is a somewhat smaller, but otherwise identical type of connector, which is intended for the power supply or the input pen. The power supply also has an integrated USB port (5 watts) for charging external devices such as smartphones and MP3 players.

Top: On/off switch
Top: On/off switch
Left: Headphone output, volume control, USB 3.0
Left: Headphone output, volume control, USB 3.0
Bottom: Magnetic docking port
Bottom: Magnetic docking port
Right: Mini DisplayPort, magnetic power input, card reader
Right: Mini DisplayPort, magnetic power input, card reader

Communication

Microsoft has incorporated a rare WLAN module from Marvell that features two antennae and is able to work on both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz bands. This type of module is not normally seen on Intel based devices. In addition to this, the chip already supports the WLAN standard 802.11ac, and can theoretically transfer data at a rate of 867 Mbit/s. During practical use we were able to observe a good signal strength which didn't show any unusual behavior. Also integrated into the module are Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC chips. The two webcams both have a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, which should be sufficient for taking pictures of auction items or for video telephony with limited quality demands, but doesn't reach the quality provided by iPad & company to a large extent. A version of the Microsoft Surface Pro with a WWAN module is so far not on the horizon. In this case, users will have to rely on external devices such as a USB stick, WLAN router or tethering via a smartphone.

Maintenance

The case is not intended to be opened by the end users. The battery and all the other components are integrated and should only be changed by authorized service partners.

Warranty

Microsoft grants a manufacturer’s warranty of 2 years. Extensions to the warranty haven't been found by us so far, but could almost certainly be determined once the Surface Pro is available in Germany.

Input Devices

Touchscreen

The high resolution of the display provides the opportunity to display a larger amount of data compared to the iPad 3 and 4. From a user perspective this does however make the icons and symbols too small for reliable touch control away from the desktop; something which should be better with the input pen that would normally be included, but wasn't in the case of our private review sample. Alternatively, an increase of the icon size to 125 or 150 percent should ameliorate this issue. The adjustment is well supported by most applications, and provides for legible icons and menu options. The sharpness isn't quite as good as on the iPad though, and looks a little blurred. Otherwise, the display responds well to touch commands, has good gliding characteristics, and supports the usual multi-touch gestures such as zooming and turning.

On-Screen Keyboard

The display keyboard only has a curtailed selection of keys in its standard configuration, although this should still be enough for many tasks and also provides for relatively large key sizes. The keyboard can also be split into several parts, the size can be changed and it can also be moved. Additional keyboard layouts, including a complete set of keys can of course be selected depending on the requirements.

Separated keyboard
Separated keyboard
Single keyboard
Single keyboard

Our test model was provided with one of the two attachable keyboards. The Touch Cover (120 Euros/~$160) is a 3 mm thick plastic lid with a matte surface which reacts to touch input without any key movement. It is especially thin and light, and also serves as a protective layer for the display. After a short period of acclimatization to the Touch Cover we were able to work with it quite well. Instead of the haptic feedback you get with other keyboards, there is an acoustic confirmation via the speakers which lets you know whether the key press was successful or not. This may take some time to become accustomed to, but doesn't get annoying. The integrated Touchpad is very small and actually quite superfluous, since touch control on the display is considerably faster and easier. The Touch Cover increases the weight of the Surface Pro by 210 grams. Additional impressions can be found in the review of the Microsoft Surface RT.

An alternative provided by Microsoft is the Type Cover, which is endowed with real keys. This weighs approximately 50 grams, consists of hard plastic and costs 130 Euros (~$170). With a depth of 6 mm, it is somewhat thicker, but provides the conventional key feedback. Unfortunately, we weren't able to test the Type Cover for this review.

The input pen which is normally included with the standard delivery, attaches to the magnetic power input, and can therefore be attached to the case only when the power supply is not connected. Using a safety cord for the pen, as is often customary with business convertibles is not an option. The input pen supports the input determined by varying amounts of pressure, although this is not recognized by all the applications. The pen was not compatible with Photoshop CS6 but we found it to work with programs like SketchBook Pro 6 and Art Rage 4. The stylus is not compatible with either the Dell Latitude XT3 not the HP Elitebook 2760p.

Keyboard that is a protective cover
Keyboard that is a protective layer
The keys don't provide any haptic feedback
The keys don't provide any feedback
Review sample came with a QWERTY layout
Tested model with a QWERTY layout

Display

The glossy 10.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels meaning a pixel density of 207 dpi. This is very high and can lead to very small letters and symbols on the tiny display. The presentation is very sharp when using the native resolution, but long-term use could cause some users discomfort due to the strain on the eyes. The scaling can be changed in the appropriate options section but please do keep in mind that the change can lead to a loss in sharpness when higher font sizes are chosen.

Native resolution
Native resolution
125% display contents size
125% display contents size
150% display contents size
150% display contents size

The brightness of the Samsung panel was measured at nine different places on the display. The lower left corner is the darkest with a brightness of 337 cd/m², while the brightest area is at the center of the screen with a read of 371 cd/m². The varying levels of brightness cannot be recognized even with monochrome images. On average, the display reaches a maximum of 355 cd/m² while the illumination distribution lay at 91 percent. Since brightness can only be adjusted with a sliding controller, it is difficult to set a precise value. When the controller is set at about one third the brightness we measured was about 151 cd/m²- would suffice for use indoors with a matte display in most cases. In order to trump the reflections however, users will often have to set the brightness to a higher level.

355
cd/m²
363
cd/m²
351
cd/m²
355
cd/m²
371
cd/m²
363
cd/m²
337
cd/m²
347
cd/m²
361
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2 // Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 371 cd/m²
Average: 355.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 371 cd/m²
Black: 0.5 cd/m²
Contrast: 742:1
Color space
Color space

Outdoor users will have to be content with limited visibility of the contents in the same way as with most other tablets. The brighter the surroundings, the darker the display of the tablet, the more pronounced the effect. At least the maximum brightness of 371 cd/m² - is also available on battery power, and this is able to counteract the loss of legibility of the screen content to a certain extent.

The contrast ratio of 741:1 is significantly less than that of the Microsoft Surface RT (1079:1) which we have reviewed, but only marginally less than that of the iPad 4 (838:1). For practical purposes, the display has a very good level of contrast that differences can only be discerned with a direct comparison with other devices. Saturated colors and relatively deep blacks mean good presentation of pictures, videos and games. The covered color space is relatively small and doesn't even begin to approach the sRGB color space. While the greyscale presentation and color saturation can be improved with some calibration, this is only possible to a minimal extent in the case of the color accuracy due to the curtailed color space.

Greyscale
Greyscale
Color accuracy
Color accuracy
Color saturation
Color saturation
Greyscale calibrated
Greyscale calibrated
Color accuracy calibrated
Color accuracy calibrated
Color saturation calibrated
Color saturation calibrated

The IPS panel provides for very wide viewing angles and a very even representation of the display contents. Depending on the viewing position, users may however have to come to terms with slight discolorations and varying levels of brightness. Altogether, the display in the Microsoft Surface Pro is on the same level as the (consumer) competition, and doesn't exhibit any glaring shortcomings. Due to certain specific requirements, some business users could however end up being disappointed with the display. The only added value when compared to many other alternatives is merely the high resolution which allows for more productivity. The color space, contrast level, brightness and the glossy surface of the display are all characteristics that could be improved or changed depending on the parameter to better cater to the specific business user set.

Viewing angles of the Microsoft Surface Pro
Viewing angles Microsoft Surface Pro

Performance

The Microsoft Surface Pro comes with hardware components usually found in Ultrabooks. An Intel Core i5-3317U CPU with integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics, 4 GB of RAM and a fast storage device with a capacity of 64 GB promise a chart-topping performance. As an alternative, Microsoft should also provide a 128GB SSD version of the Surface Pro when it becomes available in Germany.

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM
Systeminfo HWinfo
Systeminfo HDTune
ASSD
 
System information Microsoft Surface Pro

Processor

MP3 conversion
MP3 conversion
Video conversion
Video conversion

The Intel Core i5-3317U CPU is an ultra-low-voltage processor, which is geared towards low power consumption. The thermal design power (TDP) lies at 17 watts, and is reached by using relatively low clock speeds between 1.7 and 2.6 GHz. The technologies Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading are both supported, and guarantee an optimized processing performance. With single-core applications, the maximum clock speeds can be reached, while the CPU is able to process up to four threads simultaneously with multi-thread applications. 

When it comes to pure CPU benchmarks, the results were in line with our expectations and identical to those achieved by Ultrabooks using similar components. Cinebench R11.5 (64-bit), for example, ascribed scores of 0.9 (single-thread) and 2.39 (multi-thread) points. The Super Pi 32M calculation (single-thread) took 727 seconds, while the wPrime 1024M calculation (multi-thread) required 653 seconds. Altogether, the results lie in the upper range of comparable Intel Core i5-3317U values.

We tested the processing power by converting three MP3 files into the AAC format with iTunes. The pure CPU conversion of videos with MediaEspresso took considerably longer than other devices and probably isn't a task that should be performed by a business tablet all too often. Things move noticeably faster with Intel's Quick Sync technology which, by the way, also requires significantly less processing power (about 20 percent instead of 90 percent).

During maximum utilization of the CPU and GPU (Prime95 and Furmark), we witnessed an obvious reduction of the clock speed from 2.4 GHz to 1.2 GHz within a few minutes. During pure CPU utilization, the tool HWinfo showed minimum throttling from 2.4 GHz to 2.3 GHz. Both of these didn't have any discernible effect on the benchmark results or cause any slowdowns in the running of the tablet.

While battery powered, we weren't able to notice any additional performance impediments other than those described above. Exactly the same result of 2.39 points was achieved with the Cinebench R11.5 (multi, 64-bit) benchmark.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3577
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
7276
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5382
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
4544 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
7899 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
5537 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.9 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.39 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
15.78 fps
Help

System Performance

With PC Mark 7, the Microsoft Surface Pro achieves an identical result as the Dell XPS 13 and the Acer Aspire S7-191 with 4813 points. A large portion of this can be attributed to the dualchannel mode of the RAM modules and the superfast solid state drive. The only improvements that can be done would be the upgrade to a better CPU-GPU combination and reducing the energy footprint. During practical use, most of the regular Windows programs can be used without any concerns. Only in the case of demanding 3D applications do considerable restrictions apply.

When it comes to the typical tablet benchmarks such as Geekbench or Sunspider, the Microsoft Surface Pro is in a league of its own as it is able to outperform all its rivals by a considerable margin.

Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit
Total Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro
4753 Points ∼33%
Apple iPad 4
1768 Points ∼12% -63%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
1859 Points ∼13% -61%
Google Nexus 10
2591 Points ∼18% -45%
Integer (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro
4659 Points ∼30%
Apple iPad 4
1330 Points ∼9% -71%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
1640 Points ∼11% -65%
Google Nexus 10
1794 Points ∼12% -61%
Floating Point (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro
4926 Points ∼28%
Apple iPad 4
2262 Points ∼13% -54%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
2946 Points ∼17% -40%
Google Nexus 10
3916 Points ∼22% -21%
Memory (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro
5196 Points ∼59%
Apple iPad 4
2053 Points ∼23% -60%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
952 Points ∼11% -82%
Google Nexus 10
2480 Points ∼28% -52%
Stream (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro
3594 Points ∼38%
Apple iPad 4
1012 Points ∼11% -72%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
638 Points ∼7% -82%
Google Nexus 10
968 Points ∼10% -73%

Legend

 
Microsoft Surface Pro Intel Core i5-3317U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAT064M
 
Apple iPad 4 Apple A6x, PowerVR SGX554MP4, 32 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Samsung Exynos 4412 Quad, ARM Mali-400 MP4, 16 GB SSD
 
Google Nexus 10 Samsung Exynos 5250 Dual, ARM Mali-T604 MP4, 32 GB SSD
Sunspider - 0.9.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro
135.3 ms * ∼1%
Apple iPad 4
895.3 ms * ∼8% -562%
Google Nexus 10
1345.7 ms * ∼13% -895%
Microsoft Surface RT
997.5 ms * ∼9% -637%

Legend

 
Microsoft Surface Pro Intel Core i5-3317U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAT064M
 
Apple iPad 4 Apple A6x, PowerVR SGX554MP4, 32 GB SSD
 
Google Nexus 10 Samsung Exynos 5250 Dual, ARM Mali-T604 MP4, 32 GB SSD
 
Microsoft Surface RT NVIDIA Tegra 3, NVIDIA GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 32 GB SSD

* ... smaller is better

5.6
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.9
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5.6
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.4
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
8.1
PC Mark
PCMark 74813 points
Help

Storage Device

Micron's Real SSD C400 is the storage device of choice and is connected to s SATA III port. The SSD can take full advantage of the bandwidth that is available. Sequential reads top out at about 500 MB/s while sequential writes are measured at about 87 MB/s. This is a limitation of the SSD firmware and the type of flash chip arrangement that has been used. The 128GB version of the Crucial SSD which is probably the same as the one adopted for the 128GB Surface Pro should be a little faster in this respect. Normal workloads don’t include much writing to the drive and there is also an issue of much of the storage space being occupied by the operating system. Following harsh criticism from users and the media, there is at least a note of caution on Microsoft's product website that warns of the fact that the system software takes up a sizable part of the storage space. Here is the math: Of the 64 GB in total, the user has about 26 GB available for programs and data. Expanding the storage capacity is possible with an SDXC memory card or via the USB 3.0 port with an external drive.

Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAT064M
Transfer Rate Minimum: 214.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 288 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 276.6 MB/s
Access Time: 0.1 ms
Burst Rate: 86.2 MB/s
CPU Usage: 4.7 %

Graphics Card

Intel's HD Graphics 4000 has a clock speed of up to 1050 MHz in the Microsoft Surface Pro and is not subject to any throttling. During 3D Mark 11, a score of 626 points is achieved while 3D Mark Vantage produces a score of 2935 points. The performance during OpenGL Shading is about 5537 points in Cinebench R10, and 15.78 fps in Cinebench R11.5. These scores are average for a device of this class running Intel HD Graphics 4000. More results can be found in our comprehensive GPU benchmark list.

While running on the battery, the GPU runs at a frequency of only 350 MHz, which leads to a considerably lower result in Cinebench R11.5 of 6.67 fps. With the power connected we weren't able to detect any throttling on maximum utilization.

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
4951 points
3DMark Vantage2935 points
3DMark 11626 points
3DMark Ice Storm32347 points
3DMark Cloud Gate3503 points
3DMark Fire Strike487 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The gaming performance is sufficient to play leisurely PC games smoothly at low resolutions and reduced quality. This is only possible with the power adapter connected. During battery powered use, the reduced clock speed of the GPU takes its toll leading to a reduction of the frame rate anywhere between 30 to 50 percent depending on the game. Games specially developed for tablets such as Angry Birds Space or Galaxy on Fire 2 HD are always a viable option due to their minimal processing demands, and shouldn't pose a problem when running on the battery.

Angry Birds
Angry Birds
F1 2012
F1 2012
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD
low med.high ultra
World of Warcraft (2005) 1176216fps
Diablo III (2012) 46252114fps
F1 2012 (2012) 31fps

Emissions

System Noise

The cooling fan is operational at all times though the noise is only audible from being very close to the device with a low processing load - we measured about 29.5 dB (A). This is the scenario that is common when the tablet is running normal workloads that include basic productivity, Internet browsing and media consumption. While running several different tasks in parallel, the system noise increased to 32.6 dB (A), and increasing furthermore to 38.2 dB (A) with a medium processing load, finally exceeding 40 dB (A) when the processor and the graphics unit are both loaded. Particularly with medium and high utilization, such high noise levels have to be endured due to the type of hardware in use. ARM and Intel Atom processors are able to run at much lower TDPs that allow them to forgo cooling units, unlike the Core i5 processor in the Surface Pro, which keep noise levels down improving the user experience. But these processing units aren’t able to match the performance levels of the i5 processor. At least these noise levels in the Surface Pro are only noticeable when a substantial processing power is actually required.

Noise Level

Idle 29.5 / 29.5 / 29.5 dB(A)
Load 38.2 / 40.9 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    PCE-322A (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The Microsoft Surface Pro always feels warm. Regardless of whether it is subjected to a low processing load or fully utilized, the difference only amounts to a few degrees Celsius. With a minimum of approximately 30 °C and a maximum of just over 40 °C, the surface temperatures never become unpleasant. The cooling system is conceived for working as silently as possible with a low processing load, while not allowing the internal components to get too hot with a high processing load resulting in relatively constant case temperatures.

Max. Load
 38.0 °C40.3 °C37.1 °C 
 37.6 °C40.3 °C36.8 °C 
 37.3 °C39.4 °C36.8 °C 
Maximum: 40.3 °C
Average: 38.2 °C
27.1 °C40.6 °C40.1 °C
34.3 °C40.4 °C35.1 °C
36.4 °C40.1 °C35.2 °C
Maximum: 40.6 °C
Average: 36.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  43.5 °C | Room Temperature 21 °C | Fennel Firt 550

Speakers

The audio reproduction is suitable for basic tasks which is also the case with most other tablets. Concentrated in the high frequency range with little mid-range or bass frequencies, the speakers should suffice for watching short videos online. Substantially better audio quality is achievable with the aid of headphones, which are more or less obligatory in public areas such as trains or waiting rooms in any case. External speakers can also be connected via Bluetooth, USB or the 3.5 mm jack.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption (measured from the power supply) is substantially higher than those of other conventional tablet PCs. With a minimum of 8 watts and a maximum of 43.2 watts, the values are familiar to us as they are about the same obtained from the current crop of Ultrabooks such as the 13 inch Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A. In order to achieve half-decent battery runtimes in spite of such high power consumption, Microsoft has included a 42 Wh battery in the Surface Pro. There is no way to add to this capacity at the moment. Any maintenance tasks must be done at an authorized service center.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.3 Watt
Idle 8.0 / 10.7 / 11.8 Watt
Load 36.8 / 43.2 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Readers Test
Maximale Akkulaufzeit (Readers Test)
Classic Test
Minimale Laufzeit  (Classic Test)

With the Battery Eater Readers Test (maximum possible battery life, minimum display brightness, wireless modules off, power saver mode), the battery falls just short of the 7-hour mark. The Microsoft Surface RT for example, is able to hold out for more than twice this time despite its smaller battery. During the more realistic WLAN test (power saver mode, approx. 150 cd/m² display brightness, wireless modules on), the battery life falls to about 5 hours - which is about 4 hours less than the result achieved by the Surface RT. With the Battery Eater Classic Test (minimum possible battery life, maximum brightness, everything on, high performance profile), which more or less represents continuous conversion of audio or video files, our test device ran out of juice after 1:33 hours.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 56min
WiFi Surfing
4h 45min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 33min

Verdict

Microsoft Surface Pro
Microsoft Surface Pro

Microsoft's attempt to combine a tablet and an Ultrabook has been a success in almost every respect when it comes to the Surface Pro. The significantly improved processing power which is effectively identical to that of an Ultrabook, comes at the expense of a few significant disadvantages though.

In terms of the mobility, a comparison to the established tablet rivals reveals a considerable amount of compromise, while the battery life is about half as long and the weight is almost double. The actively cooled system is another issue as the Surface Pro is a pretty noisy device compared to the other tablets in its class.

But, users are able to put to use a full-fledged version of Windows 8, which allows you access to the full gamut of applications that are applicable to x86 hardware. Accessories are easy to find and are light on the wallet. The limited number of ports and the low graphics performance are some disadvantages that many might be able to overlook if they are looking for a tablet that is able to offer the same performance as an Ultrabook.

Many buyers would be definitely looking at the 128 GB option of the Surface Pro as a lot would run out of the storage space available on the 64 GB version. There is no way that a user can increase the storage capacity and there is also some performance issues associated with the capacity that needs to be left free on the SSD to enable its maintenance functions.

The display doesn't provide anything out of the ordinary with the exception of the Full-HD resolution. Brightness, contrast and of course, the glossy display surface are standard for this class of device. Along with the obligatory touch surface, there is provision for control with an input pen which is included with the standard delivery (not tested here) and should prove to be better suited to some tasks.

The Touch Cover keyboard which also serves as a protective cover for the display, improves the typing experience considerably when compared to using the on-screen keyboard. On the other hand, the additional weight means that the device is almost as heavy as an Ultrabook and mobility is furthermore hampered by an additional 200 grams.

Altogether, buyers of the Microsoft Surface Pro will received a potent tablet with unique characteristics for an estimated price of at least 800 Euros. Mobility, storage capacity and the system noise are parameters that a user needs to keep in mind when considering that this is a first-generation device.

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In Review: The Microsoft Surface Pro
Im Test: Microsoft Surface Pro

Specifications

Microsoft Surface Pro
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4000, Core: 350 - 1050 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, shared memory, igdumd64 9.17.10.2867 Win8 64
Memory
4096 MB 
, Dual-channel mode, not upgradable
Display
10.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, 10-finger multi-touch, SEC3242, 106HL01-001, IPS, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel HM77 (Panther Point)
Harddisk
Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAT064M, 64 GB 
Soundcard
Realtek ALC280 @ Intel Panther Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
1 USB 3.0, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: Headphones, Card Reader: microSDXC, Sensors: Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass,
Networking
Marvell AVASTAR 350N Wireless Network Controller (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 14 x 275 x 173 ( = 0.55 x 10.83 x 6.81 in)
Weight
920 g ( = 32.45 oz) Power Supply: 250 g ( = 8.82 oz)
Battery
42 Wh Lithium-Ion
Price
900 Euro
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
Additional features
Webcam: 720p, Keyboard: Display keyboard + Touch Cover, Keyboard Light: no, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The Microsoft Surface Pro is a potent tablet.
The Microsoft Surface Pro is a potent tablet.
The memory card reader only accepts micro formats.
The memory card reader only accepts micro formats.
The DisplayPort is a typical port for a business device and should provide images at resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 pixels.
The DisplayPort is a typical business port, and should provide resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 pixels.
Snapshot quality is limited with the integrated cameras.
Snapshot quality is limited with the integrated cameras.
The cooling vent provides sufficient cooling.
The cooling vent provides for sufficient cooling.
64GB doesn't always mean that allo of it is available to the user.
64GB doesn't always mean 64GB is available.
The solid hinge is indicates very good manufacturing quality.
The solid hinge is in line with the overall very good manufacturing quality.
The power adapter attaches to the case magnetically.
The power input attaches to the case magnetically.
As an alternative, the input pen can also be attached to the same port.
As an alternative the input pen can also be attached to the same magnet.
The power supply provides approximately 43.2 watts to the tablet and also contains a USB port for charging.
The power supply provides approximately 43.2 watts, and also contains a USB port for charging.
The speed of external USB 3.0 hard drives can be fully realized.
The speed of external USB 3.0 hard drives can be fully utilized.
Elgatos Tivizen DVB-T WLAN hotspot works without any problems and represents one of the more elegant solutions for watching television.
Elgatos Tivizen DVB-T WLAN hotspot works without any problems, and represents one of the more elegant solutions to watching television.
Other peripheral devices can also be used without difficulties.
Other peripheral devices can also be used without difficulties.
The volume control can be easily operated.
The volume control can be easily operated.
An additional microphone input is not available.
An additional microphone input is not available.
The USB 3.0 port allows maximum data rates.
The USB 3.0 port allows maximum data rates.
With components that are commonly found in Ultrabooks...
With components that are often only found in Ultrabooks...
...it outperforms many of its rivals.
...it will outperform many of its rivals.
While the high performance components have many similarities, the form factor is the most obvious difference when compared to the Sony Vaio Tap 20.
While the high performance components have many similarities, the form factor is the most obvious difference compared to the Sony Vaio Tap 20.
The Microsoft Surface Pro has a Full-HD resolution...
The Microsoft Surface Pro provides a Full-HD resolution...
...and can be controlled with touch or with a pen/stylus.
...and can be controlled with the fingers or with a pen.
The kickstand is always available, while the magnetically attached keyboard has to be ordered separately.
The kickstand is always available, while the magnetically attached keyboard has to be ordered separately.
In terms of the colors, there are alternatives - pink is not the only option.
In terms of the colors there are of course alternatives - pink is not the only option.
The high resolution display provides good contrast and brightness levels.
The high resolution display provides good contrast and brightness levels.
The display surface is glossy like most other touchscreens.
The display surface is glossy - as with most other touchscreens.
Increasing the size of displayed contents to 125 or 150 percent leads to slightly blurred images.
Increasing the size of displayed contents to 125 or 150 percent, leads to slightly blurred images.
Both the cameras only provide a maximum resolution of 720p.
Both of the cameras only provide a 720p resolution.
The Windows button helps navigating quickly or for screenshots.
The Windows button helps with navigating quickly or for screenshots.

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Pro

+Very good tablet performance
+High contrast and bright display
+Multi-touch + pen entry
+Very good case quality
+Integrated display support (kickstand)
+USB 3.0 + DisplayPort
+Magnetic power connection
+Power supply with USB port
 

Cons

-Available storage capacity (64GB version)
-Cooling fan is clearly audible when utilized
-Heavy weight
-Low camera resolution
-Moderate battery life

Shortcut

What we liked

High performance, input pen included, x86 version of Windows 8 for compatibility.

What we'd like to see

More storage capacity, lower system noise, lighter weight and longer battery life.

What surprises us

That the Surface Pro is still not available in Germany/Europe.

The competition

Microsoft Surface RT, Asus Zenbook Prime UX21A, iPad 4, Acer Iconia W700, Asus VivoTab Smart, Google Nexus 10 and many more.

Ratings

Microsoft Surface Pro
03/27/2013 v3
Tobias Winkler

Chassis
90%
Keyboard
77%
Pointing Device
89%
Connectivity
56%
Weight
96%
Battery
85%
Display
87%
Games Performance
68%
Application Performance
97%
Temperature
83%
Noise
91%
Add Points
90%
Average
84%
88%
Convertible *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet
Author: Tobias Winkler, 2013-04-12 (Update: 2013-06- 6)