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To Trade or Not to Trade: Microsoft Surface RT vs. Surface Pro

January 24, 2013

The decision time has come. In two weeks, Microsoft will release the Surface Pro, the big brother of the Surface RT released on October 26th. The new device will be packed with the core i5 or i7 processor ensuring that the new tablet, ultrabook, I mean desktop replacement can run anything and everything. With the new Surface, you certainly have the improved capabilities to run all legacy software along with everything from the Microsoft Store. Additionally, the computing power of the new slate is ample enough the most demanding apps. Of course, all the power comes at the cost of battery life.

Decision Point 1 – Battery life versus compute power

There you have it. The choice really is that simple. The Surface RT has widely been reported to get 10 hour battery life, whereas the Surface Pro will get approximately 5 hours. Though mileage may vary, that really is the decision point. If you are willing to sacrifice battery life for compute power then the Pro may be the right choice. If you need all day battery life, go with the Surface RT.

Winner – you pick it

Decision Point 2 – Application Compatibility

When it comes to application compatibility, the Surface Pro has the obvious advantage because it can run everything. One strength of Windows has always been the vast array of applications available on the platform. Obviously, we aren’t talking about simple fart apps, wallpaper apps and re-skinning websites. With the Surface Pro, you can run everything. As you know, the Surface RT only runs apps from the App store, or you have to use Remote Desktop to run legacy apps.

Winner – Surface Pro

Decision Point 3 – Price

The final decision point is price. Here, the Surface RT is the clear winner. The Surface RT starts at $499 compared to $899 for the Surface Pro. The Surface RT is priced comparably with the starting iPad. However, as outlined in my Surface RT review (, with the Surface RT you get so much more capability than what you can get with the iPad.

Winner – Surface RT


At the end of the day, the real decision point comes down to the trade-off of battery life versus computing power. Heck, for me personally, I struggle to remember a time when I do anything for more than 5 hours consecutively. At the same time, my experience with the Surface RT and the battery life leaves me hesitant to consider any computer that can’t match the all-day plus experience. I am very anxious to get my hands-on with the Surface Pro because I suspect that just like the Surface RT, Microsoft may be under promising battery life on the Surface Pro.

At this point, you might be thinking, “hold on that can’t be it”. Make no mistake, people will over-analyze this decision, but it really it is this simple. There are other factors that simply don’t make or break the decision either way. Yes, the RT is lighter, but not significantly so. Yes. The Pro has the active digitizer, but if you ready my review of the Adonit Stylus on the Surface RT ( you will see once again, that the active digitizer really shouldn’t make or break the decision for 99% of the population.

What will I do? I can truthfully tell you that I have fallen in love with the Surface RT. I can do everything. I can use Citrix to connect to and run all productivity apps from my work. I can run apps from the marketplace, use Skype for phone calls, surf the web, and be productive with Office 2013. In short, there is nothing I can’t do on my Surface RT that I can do on a Surface Pro, especially when I combine remote control capabilities with a cheap Windows 8 Pro desktop.


From → Technology

One Comment
  1. Doug permalink

    Thank you for this. I held off buying the RT until the PRO came out, and now that it’s here, I kind of independently came to the same conclusion, but after reading all the mediocre RT reviews I was starting to think I was crazy. At the end of the day, when I need power computing, I still have my laptop or the server in my office. When I am travelling around, what I really want is a tablet experience that I can do office on. I’ve agonized over the decision, but I’ll be travelling all over Europe next summer, and I want battery life, the ability to search, do email, and write some documents, I don’t really need the PRO.

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