Thursday, February 07, 2013

Microsoft Surface Pro

Engadget has published a full review of Microsoft's high-end tablet.

Snippets follow:

"Welcome to the Surface for Windows Pro, which promises all the niceties of the Surface RT - compelling design, build quality, performance - with full support for x86 Windows applications. (That is: every single Windows app released before the end of last year.) And, adding a 1080p display. So, then, is this perfection in a single 10-inch, $899 device?"

"The 10.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 display looks great, offering very nice contrast and brightness, plus viewing angles that maintain that contrast from just about wherever you can see the display."

"By default, the tablet is set to scale text to 150 percent its original size, making most (but not all) menus and buttons huge and reasonably finger-friendly. That's great when you're actually using your fingers, but it results in a lot of wasted space on the display when you're using a mouse. More troublingly, it made the text and icons in many apps appear rather blurry."

"This is only a concern if you'll be working in the traditional Windows desktop frequently, something of a problem since compatibility with legacy Windows applications is a huge selling point here. The OS desperately needs a way to quickly toggle between finger-friendly and native scaling of apps."

"Every app we threw at the tablet ran like a charm"

"Still, we could never quite get comfortable in this layout. That keyboard slowed us down and its trackpad continued to frustrate. Due to the lack of finger-friendliness in the vast majority of legacy Windows apps, we were frequently reaching for a mouse. Without it, accurately selecting toolbar buttons and controls was often difficult and precisely wielding photo-editing tools was impossible."

"While we spent much of our testing with the keyboard attached, to experience the thing as a tablet we popped off the Type Cover. Using IE in this way is quite good, as it's finger-friendly and responsive, and of course in this way you're encouraged to use all the great Windows 8 gestures, which become intuitive enough after only a few minutes of use. Additionally, the on-screen keyboard offers a selection of usable layouts, and the predictive text and autocorrect functionality means you can type reasonably quickly."

"We physically couldn't get comfortable with the tablet. When laying it flat on a lap it's fine, but we could never find a good way to hold it in a more upright position. At about two pounds, it's definitely on the heavy side, which is one major strike against and that, combined with the angular edges that dig into fleshy parts of hands, means this is not a tablet you'll want to hold for long."

"Getting into the tablet takes longer than the Android or iOS competition. Hit the power button and you'll have to wait for about three to four seconds for the display to pop on. Then, assuming you've set a password, you'll have to type that in, and secure passwords are rarely fun on virtual keyboards."

"Overall performance of our Intel Core i5 Surface Pro more than met our expectations. A cold boot is completed in eight seconds or less, which is quite impressive indeed, and apps launched snappily and reacted well. Performance here is definitely adequate to get some serious work done."

"The back of the tablet did get very warm to the touch and the little fan in here certainly let its presence be known with a somewhat shrill, high-pitched noise. We rarely heard it during less-intensive use, but full-screen video playback was enough to make it kick in."

"But while performance was just fine, battery life wasn't. On our standard Windows battery rundown test, in which we fix the display brightness and loop a video endlessly to exhaustion, the Surface Pro scored just three hours and 46 minutes."

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