The Surface Pro is either a tiny Ultrabook or a bulky Windows 8 tablet, depending on your point of view. Is the Surface Pro the one device to rule them all? Watch our Surface Pro UK video review to find out.
The Surface Pro is a Windows 8 tablet that offers Ultrabook performance in a chassis only a little thicker than an iPad. It's a hybrid device, designed to replace your laptop and to do away with your tablet.
Surface Pro: design and build
Compared to a tablet the Surface Pro feels thick and chunky - but place it next to even a thin laptop and it's a lightweight gadget.
It weighs around 900g, but doesn't tell the whole story. In our tests it ran really hot - as might be expected of such a small Core i5 device - and holding it in one hand for any period of time is a trial.
The 22-degree kickstand is a neat solution. And the way the Type keyboard clicks in is a joyous thing. But the gap between the back and the top of the chassis is a negative. It's there to allow for air flow.
The Surface Pro has a 1920-by-1080-pixel, 10.6-inch screen. That makes for 208 pixels per inch. It's a decent screen for a tablet, but on size alone it can't match up to that of a decent laptop. Viewing angles are pretty good though, at least side to side. It's a pretty reflective screen, however. We found it all but useless outside.
Surface Pro: storage
The 128GB Surface Pro we tested offers only 83GB of usable storage capacity. The Surface Pro supports USB 3.0 so you can expand your storage using an external drive. There's also a MicroSDXC card slot in case you want to add onboard flash memory.
Surface Pro: performance, connectivity, battery
With an average PCMark7 benchmark score of 4751 the Surface Pro is a Windows 8 PC offering the performance of a high-end Ultrabook. The Surface Pro is supplied with the kind of processor and memory more commonly seen in family PCs. It's a power laptop in tablet form, and it performs as such. It's truly zippy in use - there are compromises being made here, but not in the general performance of the Surface Pro.
The connectivity options are good, too. You get a Mini DisplayPort which can drive HDMI and VGA displays - get a full-spec keyboard and a decent display and the Surface Pro could be your primary PC when not in tablet use.
The Surface Pro has integrated graphics, which means it's not much of a gaming rig, however.
Battery life is good, but perhaps not good enough for the new category of device that the Surface Pro represents. With a 42-watt-hour battery the Surface Pro has Intel Ultrabook battery life, rather than that of an Arm-based tablet. In our video rundown test, the Pro lasted only 5 hours, 8 minutes. Good, but not great.
Surface Pro: pen
The Surface Pro comes with a pen that offers a drawing and writing input for the tablet. It's a passive device that doesn't draw power and attaches magnetically to the side of the device. According to Microsoft the Surface Pro's pen offers 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and it's true that it is a very sensitive tablet pen. In use it can be laggy however, and it feels flimsy and plastic.
Surface Pro: software
The Surface Pro offers the full no-holds-barred Windows 8 Pro experience. So you can run any software that you have installed on any other Windows device, as well as Windows apps.
Surface Pro: keyboards
The Touch and Type Covers are brilliant keyboard/covers, but not as good as a proper keyboard. The keys are small, don't have much travel, and suffer from a perceptable lag. Both covers are as good as it gets in tablet cover keyboards, but that isn't as good as a proper keyboard or even that of an Ultrabook.
Surface Pro: verdict
We like the Surface Pro - it's the most portable power PC you can buy. But it is a compromise in terms of keyboard and battery life.