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|Source: Hardware Zone|
Microsoft Keynote 2012. Source: The Verge YouTube channel
Ok, the original keynote showed the RT version, but it is not too far off from the Pro version.
Fast forward 8 months to today, I am now posting this on my very own Surface Pro.
The Surface Pro is a strange animal indeed that has everyone confused. Never mind the RT version.
For all intent and purposes, it is basically a Windows Ultrabook without a keyboard. Compared to a lot of ultrabooks out there, the Surface is smaller but blocky. It is thicker than an iPad decked out in a cover but weighs the same. Compared to my 11" MacBook Air, it is noticeably lighter.
This is not a review as it would probably take me a week to write that! So just some quick impressions.
Why did I buy it?
It was purely an impulse purchase, I just had to have it. Thankfully it took a long time to launch in Singapore, so it was impulse shopping in slow motion, plenty of time to save up.
The biggest draw was the Wacom digitizer built in. For this price, there were only a few device with a Pen bundled in. Samsung was disappointing with their sorry excuse of S Pen in the Ativ series. The best was actually Sony with their 11" Vaio Duo, but it turns out the stylus needs a AAA battery at almost twice the cost!
Second reason is I can run EA Games' Command and Conquer Tiberium Wars in Full HD.
How does it handle?
It is a challenge initially as holding it is quite different from the traditional laptop form. You can't really put it on your lap and type, say, a post like this easily. The kickstand doesn't work on your lap unless you fold the optional keyboard back as support. Or lie it flat if you have ample lap like I do. In the end I just used it in full tablet form pecking on the virtual keyboard, which is surprisingly accurate, comfortable and easy to use, even better than the iPad.
The pen is quite similar to that from a Wacom tablet, but the very smooth glossy screen gives no traction to the tip so it does not have a semblance of writing on paper. Note that you must use the updated interim driver from Wacom in order to get the full pressure sensitivity capability. Original Wacom tablet pens DO NOT work on the Surface, but it is compatible with those from Samsung's galaxy of pen enabled tablets or Wacom's Bamboo Stylus Feel range.
The screen is gorgeous for photos and even HD movies which plays smoothly. But the desktop looks painfully small unless it is scaled to 150%, then some programs looks fuzzy. The Modern interface works well with the screen, but the desktop interface is obviously painful to use on a sub 11' high definition screen
That being said, the Surface is fast being coming a favourite with digital artists, even a few preferring it over a Cintiq!
Source: Mike Krahulik YouTube
There are tons of reviews on the machine, here are 2 that I feel are more balanced.
Source: Michael Henkelman YouTube
Mr Henkelman talks about serious programming work and gaming on the Surface.
Next is from Marc Weber Tobias of Forbes. He presents a short clear summary of should you or not own a Surface.
The Achilles Heel for the Surface is the battery life, you cannot be without an adapter or stray too far from a power point. A point of note to Microsoft, the magnetic power connector needs work still, it does not snap easily into place like Apple's Mag Safe connector.
I started this post using the Surface, but completed it on my desktop as it is still far more comfortable using a large screen and keyboard. But it could have been totally written on the Surface with all the cut and paste of videos and images.
Is it for you?
I would say it is a qualified "No". It is a well constructed machine and looks good, but my negative is due to 2 major consideration.
Firstly, you must be able to break away from the traditional concept of a laptop, otherwise the Surface will frustrate you to no end, not to mention the schizophrenic Windows 8.
Secondly the launch of Intel's 4 generation iCore CPUs would like mean a refresh is not too far off. The advantage those battery friendly CPUs could very well mean almost double the battery life. So a definite no unless you are a gadget collector.
In the meantime, I heart my Surface.