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Microsoft Surface Pro – laptop replacement with a side of tablet

February 11, 2013

I had the opportunity to play with the new Surface Pro and I have to admit, it was very tempting to make the move. At the end of the day, it was thicker than the Surface RT, but not dramatically so. It didn’t feel that much different. However, there is no doubt that the speed improvement from RT to Pro was very clear (by miles the Surface Pro is faster than any other tablet offering out there iPad, Android, Windows RT).

For myself and probably many others, the deal breaker is battery life. That is to replace my tablet, I need a device that can go all day. At least that is my initial thought as I try to determine the best path forward. On the other hand, to replace my laptop, with this device, well, if I was in the market for a new laptop, I don’t know if I would consider any other device.

Therein lies the answer. If you are in the market for a new laptop, then the Surface Pro is not just a viable alternative, but a great choice. Consider this, you buy the Surface Pro to replace your existing laptop and at the same time, you can use the device as a tablet. My bet is if most people tried to do this, you would quickly find yourself using a single device all the time, for everything from serious computing to playing games or reading books. I am hard pressed to think of anything I do that lasts longer than 5 hours of contiguous time. Perhaps I am unique in this way? But, if you really look at what you do, perhaps you and I are in the same boat and a 5-7 hour battery life will be sufficient for just about everything.

Keep in mind the battery tests for the Surface Pro are conducted using video playback on continuous loop with 65% screen brightness. So, 4-5 hours of the most intense activity you could possibly do. Well, is that normal? What happens if you lower the screen brightness to 30% (my standard configuration for the Surface RT when not running on AC power)? My guess is with a few minor changes you could easily use the Surface Pro for 5-7 hours.

On the other hand, if you need or want or need to use handwriting, there is nothing better than using a Windows tablet with an active digitizer. This is definitely no different with the Surface Pro. I am not going to elaborate on this other than to say, nothing else even comes close.

Now for the big upside. The Surface Pro has the accessory spine (where the keyboard snaps in). Well, it has additional connectors that will enable other accessories to snap in. This opens the potential to other accessories such as a keyboard with built in battery to extend life away from the power outlet. Admittedly, if this sort of accessory is released, I may be first in line at the Microsoft store to move to the Surface Pro.

Now before you question my motives, or before you say, “Russell, I thought you said the Surface RT does everything you need”. Let me stop you. It does. There is no real reason for me to make the switch. Except one thing, capabilities.

There is nothing on the market. No other device that has the same capabilities as a fully powered i5 laptop that can function as a great tablet. You can buy a MacBook Air and an Ipad. You can buy another ultrabook and a tablet. You can purchase a Chromebook (uh, never mind).

Here’s the thing, when you purchase a full Windows 8 device, you can also have one other big advantage. That is, you can run apps through virtualization technologies like Bluestacks. If you don’t know about Bluestacks, it’s an application that essentially enables you to run all Android apps on your Windows 8 device. If you have a big investment in Android apps, good news, use them on your Windows 8 tablet.

I will write more on the Bluestacks experience on Windows 8 pro. I think I am going to start posting some videos on how to get the most out of your Windows 8 device and any such reporting would be incomplete without including this capability.

Let me know what you think. Are you considering the Microsoft Surface? Have you had a chance to see it? Play with it? What did you think?


From → Technology

  1. David Memphis MOJO Smith permalink

    I have a MS Surface (not the Pro version) and occasionally use it to connect to my laptop using the Remote Desktop function on the Surface. I use it to play both poker and bridge online (the software is on my laptop). Works like a charm so far so who needs the Pro?

    • David, that is certainly an option. However, if you don’t have your laptop with you that is a limitation. As a result, different devices will likely be better depending on what you need. As an example, the Surface Pro would allow you to get rid of the laptop and tablet to consolidate to a single device.

  2. Nauru permalink

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