There seems to be a lot of complaining going on around the web about Microsoft's Surface Pro. In actuality the drawbacks are nothing you didn't already know or wouldn't have guessed: poor battery life, a bit clumsy to use in your lap or one-handed, and the base model comes with hardly any storage. Oh and very, very expensive.
Going from a 64GB SATA based SSD to a 128GB raises the initial price of $899 to $999. To get one of the keyboard covers, you also need an extra $119 Touch Cover or $129 Type Cover. That's a maximum of $1128 and possibly the single most important drawback of the Surface Pro.
So what about advantages? They're almost hard to spot in most reviews, but if you dig around long enough here's what you get: it's very well built, it's extremely responsive and most surprisingly everybody is raving about the screen quality (though not the out-of-box calibration).
The star of the show is of course the $225 Intel Core i5-3317U. At 17W it brings the advantages of delivering a real PC and the disadvantages of lower battery life and active cooling. But it looks like most reviewers can't wait to see it replaced by Haswell, along with any other refinements a Surface Pro 2 might bring.
Here are some quotes from just a few of the reviews:
AnandTech - Anand Lal Shimpi
Surface Pro is about as well executed as Microsoft could have made it given the currently available hardware. Its performance is outstanding for a tablet - it's truly in a class of its own… The downsides are obvious. Compared to an iPad or Nexus 10, Surface Pro's battery life is abysmal. Compared to other Ultrabooks it's not too bad… If you're coming from an ARM based tablet, you're not going to be happy with Surface Pro's weight. If however you're coming from the perspective of a notebook user, it's not bad at all.
The Verge - David Pierce
Fast, consistent performance
Handsome and well-made
Poor battery life
Heavy and thick
Really hard to actually use on your lap
CNET - Scott Stein
The good: The Microsoft Surface Pro fits a full ultrabook experience in a compact 10-inch tablet. Thanks to the ingenious Type and Touch covers, it offers a comfortable interface and typing experience. The clean, crisp design and sharp 1080p screen rise above the competition.
The bad: The battery life is disappointing, and more ports would be nice. The 64GB model barely has any free storage. It costs as much as a regular laptop, especially because the cool keyboard cover isn't included by default.
The bottom line: The Surface Pro's gutsy design successfully reinvents the Windows 8 laptop by cramming an ultrabook experience into the body of a 10-inch tablet. Those wanting to go all-in on the tablet experience won't regret buying the Surface Pro, but we're holding out for a future, more polished generation of the device.
Engadget - Tim Stevens
When trying to be productive, we wished we had a proper laptop and, when relaxing on the couch, we wished we had a more finger-friendly desktop interface -- though more native Windows 8 apps might solve the problem by keeping us from having to even go there.
That it offers compatibility with the massive back-catalog of Windows apps gives this a strong leg up over the earlier Surface RT, but the thickness, heft and battery life are big marks against. We're confident Microsoft will keep refining Windows 8 to make the OS as a whole more seamlessly tablet-friendly, and we look forward to testing the dozens of touch-friendly hybrid and convertible devices due this year, but sadly Microsoft's second tablet doesn't have us reaching for our credit cards. Not quite yet.