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Customer Review

1,409 of 1,459 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surface Pro, February 15, 2013
This review is from: Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet 128 GB Hard Drive, 4 GB RAM, Windows 8 Pro - ENGLISH (Personal Computers)
Before the Surface Pro, I owned a MacBook Pro for almost 7 years. Before that I had an HP desktop for about 6 years. So it was time to get something new, and I spent roughly 4 months researching every new computer until I settled on the Surface.

I do not understand the constant comparison of the Surface Pro to the iPad and MacBook Air. Why not compare it to a PS3, or a Toyota Prius. They are not in the same category, and someone who is in the market for an iPad is not in the market for the Surface. I would not even consider buying an iPad, thus I am in the Surface's demographic. Honestly, though, I feel like the Acer Iconia W700 is a better all-around deal, but I simply could not find one in a three month long search after its release. They are both excellent and remarkably similar devices, the Acer is just cheaper and you get more included in the box. But since I could not get my hands on one, here I am with a shiny new Surface Pro, and I am perfectly content with it.


The Surface looks great. It is definitely a well-made device, and you can tell a lot of thought went into every detail. It may be heavy compared to a Kindle, but to me it feels like a computer should. If this is too heavy for you, then you probably need to go to the gym more. In landscape mode, the Surface is short and fat, which works well for some programs, and not so much for others. In portrait mode, it's long and narrow. Again, sometimes this is good, and sometimes not. The material feels smooth and high quality. However, when you are holding up a $1000 tablet, that smoothness is a bit unnerving. I'd recommend a case if you're going to be carrying it around a lot.


This is what you buy a PC for. I immediately loaded MATLAB, started my Office 365 trial, set up all my email accounts, and got to work. I've pushed this thing pretty hard; having simultaneous programs running doesn't even make it flinch. I've had multiple downloads going, Netflix streaming HD movies, and MATLAB and Excel running all at once, and I didn't notice any significant lag. Working on the small screen takes some getting used to, especially for coding or spreadsheets, but the fact that it's even possible on a tablet is impressive. The Surface won't be replacing your 32 GB RAM desktop power-horse work station, but it can generally get the job done.


This is not a gaming PC. They make gaming PC's, specifically for that purpose. There are even standalone consoles that do nothing but play high end games. All that said, right after Office I loaded up Steam and did some gaming. No, the Surface is not a portable Xbox replacement, but you definitely can play some decent mid-core level games on it. Here is a list of what I've played so far:

Portal 2
Dead Space 2
Half Life
Super Meat Boy
Far Cry 2

I've even heard games like Skyrim will run just fine, though I haven't tried yet. I'll update this list as I test out more games, but you can probably get a good idea of what this machine is capable of already.


It is small. The resolution is very high. As others have mentioned, this makes things on the desktop very small, and navigating at a 100% viewing level is challenging, to say the least. It's a gorgeous screen, extremely bright, and beautiful to look at. But working in the traditional Windows desktop mode is difficult. You can work around this in most programs by increasing the view, but not everything has been optimized for the Surface yet, and sometimes you have to choose between either a tiny screen or blurry text.

The touch functions of Windows 8 work great. I love all of the swipe gestures, and coming from a Windows Phone, they are not too hard to learn. The pen is fun and remarkably useful. It makes an excellent alternative to the track pad, and is good enough to even recognize my sloppy cursive hand writing. Not sure it's going to replace hand writing in a notebook, but it's a fun option. If you need to include complicated equations in word documents, the pen sure beats typing them out. Once more programs are optimized for touch, it will only get better.


These are the big negatives I've read about most. I haven't timed the battery life yet, but I've used it a bunch of times while unplugged and have not found myself running to a power outlet because the battery drained out. I've been working this thing pretty hard, and the battery has not seemed at all unreasonable, though like with anything, it could probably be better.

Like I've said, I haven't been easy on the Surface, and I have yet to get the fans running. It does get warm, and you can feel a slight breeze of hot air coming from the side vents, but I still haven't triggered the fans. Not sure what I have to do to get them going, I'm hoping they aren't broken.

I had 89.4 GB of free space right out of the box. I have yet to uninstall anything, or remove the recovery partition, but I'd estimate that once I do I'll have an extra 12 or so GB's of space, plus 64 from an SD card, and pretty much an infinite amount from USB drives. For my purposes I don't think I will ever need more than the original 90-ish GB.

I don't even understand the app argument. Maybe for Windows Phones, or the Surface RT, but with the Pro you have access to literally the entire software world. I don't need a 99 cent photo editing app, I have Adobe Photoshop. I don't need some Angry Birds type of game, I have Skyrim and Black Ops. Not sure how apps even got into the argument against Surface.


Though the type cover isn't technically part of the Surface, I feel it is worth mentioning. The Surface isn't exactly "bricked" without a keyboard, but I find it hard to imagine getting any real work done without one. The smaller size and form factor take some getting used to, but I have had no problems typing with it, and all the old Windows shortcuts work fine on it. It is a bit flimsy, probably because it's so thin, and it feels kind of cheap. It works great, I just wanted a little more for over a hundred dollars. The track pad, however, is awful. Mac definitely has the market on track pads, and this one does not live up to that standard. Even with the help of the touch screen and pen, sometimes you just need the traditional point-and-click of a mouse. For that reason, I'd highly recommend getting a separate Bluetooth mouse to go along with the type cover. And don't forget, this is a full-blown Windows PC with Bluetooth and USB, so you can get any keyboard you want to work with your Surface, not just Microsoft's.


My one big problem with the Surface is the lack of ports. I would love to have just one more USB 3.0 port. The cameras on here are awful, as they are with any tablet, and I would have gladly taken the option to not have any if it meant getting another port.

Microsoft knows how to make good hardware, and how to inject themselves into a crowded market, as we have all seen with the Xbox. I'm a little bit nervous of a "red ring of death" scenario, but so far the tablet is everything I was looking for. There are still some compatibility issues, such as Kindle not working with text books, but that is a Windows 8/Amazon problem.

All in all, I'm very happy with the Surface Pro. Hope this was helpful, please ask if there's anything else you'd like to know.
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Showing 1-10 of 66 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 20, 2013 1:14:15 PM PST
Winter says:
Well done! Great review. On a side note, it'll be interesting to see if you *can* remove the recovery partition...I've been trying to figure out if that's how Windows 8 Pro retains its ability to roll back the OS to an out-of-the-box state. I'd read some non-Pro Surface users weren't able to clear up any free space (and regretted buying the smaller units).

Thanks for writing such a clear, concise and thorough review.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2013 5:50:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2013 5:51:05 PM PST
MXJ says:
Thanks! That's why I went with the 128 GB model, that way I don't have to worry about space if it turns out I can't free anymore up. On my last laptop, that I had for 7 years, I only used up about 25 GB, so I'm not concerned about only having 90.

Posted on Feb 22, 2013 3:35:43 AM PST
D. Cooper says:
Great review, thank you. I've looked at iPAD, Surface RT and all the other tablets out there and even looked at Ultrabooks and notebooks with detachable screens. I tried to convince myself that I needed one - but none of them really provided the blend of functionality and form factor that would change the way I work. For me, Surface Pro sounds like it ticks all the boxes and for the first time I can see myself leaving my lap-top at home on business trips and taking Surface Pro along for both business & pleasure. Imagine being able to work on a plane for a change where the seats are so close together I can't even open my lap-top!

Unfortunately Surface Pro isn't available in the UK yet and I have no experience with Windows 8 so I have a couple of basic questions that you might be able to help with:

1. Do standard Windows-compatible USB optical drives and external hard drives work with the Pro? That would be the simplest way to get my software loaded.
2. Any comments about printer compatibility / printer drivers?
3. On the Surface RT I had a look at in a local store, I noticed something called SkyDrive (or something like that). Do Microsoft provide some sort of cloud storage with the device? Is it free?
4. Was the keyboard / cover a separate purchase? In the UK it looks like the RT comes complete with the keyboard.

I know it's early days yet but if you can add anything more about battery life, that would be very useful too.

Thanks again for a great review!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2013 9:18:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 22, 2013 9:23:12 AM PST
I have been using both Surface RTs and now Surface Pros at work over the last month so let me try to answer your questions. They will be geared towards the Pro since that's the model reviewed here.

The easiest way to think of this is that the Pro is a regular computer just like any Windows based desktop or laptop... It just happens to be in a tablet form-factor. So in that vein, the general rule is that if it will work with Windows 7 then it will work with Windows 8 and by extension the Surface Pro. As with all things, there may be exceptions to that rule... but so far I have found that everything works as expected.

1. Yes, you can use standard USB optical drives, hard drives, flash drives, media card readers, etc. The Pro has a full size USB 3.0 port on it. And you can use a hub with it like normal if you need to connect more than 1 USB device at a time. No problems there.

2. If your printers have at least Windows 7 drivers available (preferably 64-bit but 32-bit drivers generally work just fine) then they will work on Windows 8 and Surface Pro. USB connected printers should work just fine on either model. Just plug them in and the drivers will likely be auto-detected, download (if needed) and installed. Now, for network printers it's a little different between Surface RT & Pro models. They both have fantastic printer support and I've seamlessly setup a bunch of our network printers at work on both. On the RT I have to configure them as direct TCP/IP printers but then it has found the drivers for all the Canon and HP printers that I've thrown at it. The Surface Pro on the other hand can be joined to a Domain like any other PC since it's geared more towards business. This means that in domain environment printers can be installed automatically through Group Policy, Scripts, Web Interfaces or by simply browsing to them and connecting. It's great to have devices that just work for something as basic as printing.

3. Skydrive is Microsoft's cloud storage service. It is a central part to their overall strategy, especially on the consumer front, and is used to connect many of their devices and services. With every Microsoft account such as an, or email address you automatically get a free 7GB Skydrive. You can choose to purchase additional space beyond that if you want/need and the pricing is very reasonable. Skydrive can be setup through the desktop app to automatically sync folders between PC's and it can also be accessed through the web and mobile devices. Many apps are being designed so that they save documents and/or settings to Skydrive so that they are available across devices. Windows Phones for example can be easily setup so that any photos taken with the camera are automatically uploaded to Skydrive and then become immediately accessible within your Windows 8 computer's Photos app, through the web, etc. It's pretty slick.

4. Currently the Surface Pro is not sold in bundles with the keyboard so you will need to buy one separately if you want one. You aren't forced to buy a keyboard as there is always the On Screen keyboard which can be used. As for their keyboard I have used both the Touch and Type Cover keyboards and I like them both. I have found that the Type Cover does allow me to type faster and more accurately, especially for larger bodies of text. If feels more like a normal keyboard as it has actual keys that depress and allows you to find the home keys much easier. I don't however like the trackpad on it. In fact, not at all... I really wish they would do something different there. The Touch Cover doesn't have any moving keys but instead uses pressure sensitivity to tell when you are making keystrokes... it works decently well and I can type quickly using it but my hands/fingers tend to drift and then I start making typos and have to reposition back to the home keys in order to correct it. You really need to have good typing with the Touch Cover because of this... You need to trust where your fingers are at since there isn't the tactile feel of the Type Cover or a normal keyboard. I do like the feel of the trackpad on the Touch Cover better though it's not very precise. So in general I prefer to either simply use the screen which is surprisingly accurate, the stylus (with the Pro) or an external wireless mouse. As noted in other reviews, you are free to use any external USB, wireless or bluetooth keyboard with the Surface because of their inclusion of both USB and Bluetooth. So you aren't locked into buying the Touch or Type covers... though I would definitely recommend either of them since they compliment the device so well.

I haven't used the Pro enough yet to comment much on the battery life but it's not as bad as people make out. For general every day use... browsing the web, running office apps, media consumption it should last 5-6+ hours. We would all love this to be longer but battery technology just isn't there yet and that's the price we pay for having a device this powerful in such a small form-factor. Is has been hinted that there may be additional accessories for the Pro because it has some additional contacts along the spline where they Touch/Type cover connects so it's certainly possible that they could come out with some extended battery covers or something along those lines... but nothing like that has been confirmed at this point.

I think it will come down to routine and adjusting to the devices capabilities. Consider this.... A few years back when I had a "dumb" cell phone it would last for days without needing to be charged. When I moved to a smartphone (Windows Phone) I was initially disappointed that I could only get 1-1.5 days on a charge. Now it's just a part of the routine that I know to plug it in every night before I go to bed. It no longer bothers me as I'm used to it. Would I like it to be longer? Sure! But it's not something that I even think about anymore. I feel that the battery life on the Surface Pro is going to be the same.

Posted on Feb 22, 2013 4:49:13 PM PST
Vinny says:
Thanks for the great review. I think the screen is too small for me. I will prolly end up with a Lenovo Yoga 13 or something.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2013 5:37:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 22, 2013 5:42:18 PM PST
MXJ says:
I thought that too, at first, but you would be surprised how quickly you get used to the smaller screen. But like I said, it depends on what you use it for.

As for the other questions, looks like Nathan took care of those for me. In regards to battery life, you can do things like put a cap on the CPU speed, end extra processes, turn off WiFi and BluTooth, turn off live tiles, etc., all of which will greatly extend your battery life. I don't have any official times yet, but in what is essentially an "e-reader" mode, you can get far more than 4 hours out of it.

Posted on Feb 22, 2013 6:50:42 PM PST
Ken S says:
Your comment under Screen about using the pen: "Not sure it's going to replace hand writing in a notebook, but it's a fun option." Try using the OneNote program and I believe that, with some practice, you will be handwriting and filing you notes there instead.

Posted on Feb 23, 2013 1:08:34 AM PST
Florencio says:
Great review. Thanks.
Are you using the latest Adobe Photoshop on the Surface Pro?

Posted on Feb 23, 2013 11:09:08 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 23, 2013 11:10:15 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2013 6:50:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 23, 2013 6:50:56 PM PST
MXJ says:
I typically write on engineering paper, and even with the grid lines on One Note, it just isn't the same. That doesn't mean it won't work for others, just personal preference.

I haven't tested Photoshop yet, but I've heard mostly positive things about it. The pen will work with CS5, but it still doesn't account for pressure sensitivity.
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