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Is the Surface Pro worth over $1,000?


Microsoft has announced pricing for the upcoming Surface with Windows 8 Pro, which is expected to ship in January (blogs.technet.com­/b­/microsoft­_blog­/archive­/2012­/11...). The new tablet will sell for $899 with a 64GB SSD, and $999 with 128GB. A keyboard, such as Microsoft's Touch model, will cost extra. How does this compare to other Windows 8 tablets? Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga, with its flip-over 13-inch display, starts at $999, including a 128GB SSD. Dell's XPS 12, which boasts a rotating display, starts at $1,199, also with a 128GB SSD. Both models include non-removable keyboards, and weigh more than 3 pounds, while the keyboardless Surface Pro weighs in at less than 2 pounds (it also has a smaller display, at just 10 inches). Put another way, the 64GB Surface Pro is about $200 more than a comparable iPad with (or without) a Bluetooth keyboard.

Is the Surface Pro worth its price, or are you better off with something like the Yoga, which has more storage, a larger display, and a built-in keyboard for the same price as the lower capacity Surface once you add an external keyboard? Or are you better off sticking with a traditional tablet? It depends on your needs -- and what the Surface Pro is actually like once it comes out. A tablet that runs a full version of Windows and weighs under two pounds could be a very tempting alternative to a traditional mobile-OS tablet or larger laptop. And if you're the kind of person who travels with both a tablet and a laptop because you want the portability of a tablet but need the flexibility of a desktop OS, the Surface Pro could well be worth its price.

What do you think?

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34 replies
markbrown83

I think it's a huge contender. The price is a little off putting and I'm sure when it comes over the the UK the price will be the same by just replacing the $ for the £ sign.

The extra premium in opinion because you are getting a fully functional machine. This being a tablet, laptop and a desktop PC! How cool would it to just place your Surface Pro into a dock hooked up to a monitor. Come lunch time, take it out the doc and go to a cafe for a bite to eat, reply to a few emails or fix a few bugs in the latest code you have written! Once your belly is full, walk back to the office, place your device back into the dock and you are back in desktop mode!

To me, that's the perfect device and that's why Microsoft are charging a slightly higher price.
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piers

Yeah, I too am concerned by their potential currency conversion, as $999 sounds like a lot to me, but then when I see how many £ that equates to, it sounds like a true contender. However, if they do, as you said, basically just replace the $ with a £ to the extent of charging any more than £50 difference between the US and UK price, I don't think it'll be remotely as appealing. Yes, what it can do makes my mind leap with ideas as it can do a considerable amount more than the similarly priced iPad or Nexus tablets, but if it costs as much as a mid-level specced MacBook air, I'd be torn between the two.
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a1by

I am absolutely down for it, simply b/c it's my PC without a keyboard, and the ability to drive a 2560x1440 display means I can have a full experience with one PC
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zakkforchilli

Not too many people want to do a video out thing, so all those folk won't be buying.
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drkokandy

I have a few thoughts...

I'm impressed that the 64GB model was priced at $899. I was expecting it to start at $999.

If the covers are still $119 (touch) and $129 (type), a 64GB Surface Pro is only $20-$30 more than a 64GB MacBook Air. [I think this is a better comparison than with an iPad (this is the full version of Windows 8 Pro vs OSX Mountain Lion, both have i5 processors)] For that extra $20-30, you get an interesting stylus, touch input, and unlike the Air or the Yoga you mention, a detachable keyboard. so you could put it away to use it as a tablet. While iOS is finding a place in the enterprise in a way that OSX hasn't , W8Pro features some killer enterprise features that a number of companies could make use of, and allows other companies to use legacy custom-built software.

It can be a laptop when you need a laptop, and it can be a tablet when you need a tablet, and I think it does it more successfully than the Yoga (reviewers have complained about feeling the keys when using it as a tablet), other slates where you carry the heft of the keyboard/case wherever you go, or the kludgy iPad keyboard contraptions available. It uses standard Windows software. It has USB 3.0 and MicroSDXC slots for expansion (so I would expect the 128GB version would be excessive.

I like that Microsoft is un-bundling the cover. It might sound stupid, but honestly one of the reasons I did not buy a Surface RT is because I wanted the 64GB model, but I would have preferred to buy the 64GB RT for $599 and pay $120 for the cover in the color I wanted rather than $699 for that model with a black touch cover.

My big concern is battery life. If the Surface Pro can't last at least as long as the MacBook Air, I won't even think about it. I might have to go with one of the Intel Clover Trail Windows 8 (non-Pro) tablets instead.
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markbrown83

I think with regards to a touch/type cover not being bundled with the pro is a good idea! If you were to use it away from your desk and not in tablet mode I think a bluetooth keyboard would be a good option, a lot more comfortable to type on. However, I suppose it depends on your needs and how often you will be using it!

If I was to buy one I would be installing Visual Studio 2012, Office 2013 etc on it and I would be using it as a portable development machine. So I would need a decent sized hard drive, most likely 128Gb version as I think 64Gb would be a little on the small side. But it's awesome as I can also use it as a tablet with the touch interface, reply to emails or just sit back and watch a movie!

Really excited about this product... I just hope I can save up enough £££ to buy one! Otherwise, I may have to go for something a little less expensive like the Samsung Series 5 notebook or similar! At the end of the day, my desktop has a gaming card in it so I don't need a dedicated card in my portable machine.
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drkokandy

Good points - I should have said 128GB would be excessive for my needs. And absolutely, depending on how you use it, the cover might be unnecessary entirely. I think it would be an incredible portable development machine which could also double as a fun tablet when you want that.
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njashanmal

The Clover Trail tablets run a full version of Windows 8.
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markbrown83

With clover trail I think you are limited to 2Gb RAM! That wouldn't be enough to run Visual Studio at a decent speed. Plus, I think the highest the current clover trail tablets go to regarding HDD is 64Gb.
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drkokandy

The HP Envy X2 page says "starting at 2GB RAM"... So maybe it's possible to add more - I don't know for certain.
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markbrown83

Ah that's something I suppose but the 64Gb SSD still limits me...
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drkokandy

Yes, full Windows 8, but I don't think I've seen one running Windows 8 Pro like the Surface. Some of the enterprise features are limited to Windows 8 Pro.
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markbrown83

If I needed Pro version I would just install it from MSDN.
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andrewkalies

I think so, since I don't anticipate the Pro version to have the performance issues of the RT version (at least I hope not, since this model actually has solid internals). The $899 starting price is also lower than some people were anticipating (I know a lot of people were anticipating $999 and up). Despite not having a keyboard cover, it still has a solid processor and RAM, as well as a 1080p screen and stylus - so it's definitely usable that way- so yes, I think it's fair (especially for people interested in this form factor, as you said).
2 like dislike
Fadawah

  • Aye, I think $1,000 is a good price considering what's inside the Surface Pro. Aside from the ecosystem, it's better than any other tablet on the market. The main downside of the Surface Pro is the battery life, which will only be half of that of the Surface.
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markbrown83

I don't think the battery life is a huge issue! 4 - 5 hours is pretty decent. Considering it's running a Full HD display too will also be a factor. Granted it's only 10" but Full HD nonetheless. At the end of the day, you will probably have your charger with you, so to have to plug it in for an hour when you are on the road... and lets be honest, there aren't many places you go now where you have a socket next to you.

So if people are putting there decision down to battery life I wouldn't. You have to remember it's a full laptop/desktop/tablet machine. This isn't a Nexus 10 for example, it's not running a slower processor that has been designed for mobility. It's running a full experience i5 processor! For that you are getting the full Windows 8 experience. There was going to be a cost for the consumer, and yes, this has resulted in a short battery life but by no means a deal breaker (in my opinion).
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Unicron109

I think Microsoft could have really benefited from a more aggressive pricing model or at least included the covers that are a driving force behind their current marketing campaign (click in). I can understand a need to keep a competitive market for its hardware partners and feel that if they didn't want to undercut them they could have included the covers in the pricing. I dont feel that the price is too high when looking at comparable hardware but that they would see a much better return on investment in the long run had both the pro and rt surfaces been more aggressively priced. The return being more units sold thus more people with Windows 8 thus more developers interested in writing apps to help the ecosystem that so many writers point to as a main sticking point. Windows 8 is too important to Microsoft's overall strategy to fail. Aggressive pricing with what I view as a good marketing blitz would have gone a long way toward ensuring that success. Lastly if I can manage to save up the Pro model is a very attractive offer.
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rdavis32

I too feel like they should be more aggressive on the price. The unit is intriguing especially when looking into having one unit to potentially replace my iPad and laptop. When does "protecting their partners" turn into some variant of collusion?
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njashanmal

I share the generally positive sentiment of the other comments. I've been using the Surface RT since it came out (typing this on it right now in fact) and have come to really appreciate the form factor. The limitations imposed by RT and the fact that performance tends to bog down with extended use can be a bit frustrating. Much will hinge on battery life, which the RT excels with. If it is anything less than 5-6 hours it's going to be a tough sell.
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aoctavio

No, it isn't. At that price you can get an iPad and a cheap Windows computer (assuming you need Windows). Having everything rolled into one is only worth it for a small number of people. Microsoft blew this price wise. They have an interesting product. The battery life is death for the Pro as a tablet. It is just an Ultrabook laptop in the expensive side of things.
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zakkforchilli

I think the only reason it's going to be big i because people get to cut the manufacturers red tape since it's the native "Microsoft Surface." No HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc. Straight up.

The price? Awful. Even the RT version is overpriced. But, I hear that in some communities (mostly high school kids) are envious of this thing, usually due to its price point. That's how Macs have always been until they began targeting gen x.
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mikesmithfl

I work in design - medical device hardware, not software. I use multiple, very large (24-30 inch) monitors because my work is very complex. Tiny 10 inch tablets are great for browsing and socializing, but for real work they just don't cut it. It's not so much the price, but the size and aspect ratio are just wrong for real business. I'm tired of making do and willing to pay a bit more for the tablet that fits what I really need. Microsoft missed again.
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markbrown83

I don't think you are understanding the purpose of the Surface Pro fully! The Pro version has HDMI out. This enables you to connect it up to a monitor via a dock. So you will be able to utilise a very large monitor. I am a web developer, I wouldn't be able to use the 10" screen 100% of the time either. I currently have a desktop pc that is connected to a 24" inch monitor. however, the good thing about the Surface is that it can be used as a tablet, laptop and desktop pc. The Full HD resolution on the device allows more screen real estate and will also make text pin sharp and extremely readable!

The Pro version also allows you to use all common applications that you are used to on a day to day laptop or desktop. For this reason I will be able to install Visual Studio, the program I use for development. So I can take my Surface Pro to a coffee shop and do a bit of coding, reply to emails etc. As mentioned above, I wouldn't use this device 8 hours a day using just the 10" screen I would have to connect it to a monitor for long use. But what is great is you have the option to do this and if you just want tablet functionality you have that too.

In short, you have your desktop machine in your back. Remove it from the dock on your desk and take it with you. If you go to another office you can buy a second dock for example (which will be small) and take it with you and then use a monitor that's at another location.

It's for the above reasons why the Surface Pro has been manufactured. You can use one machine for many uses and because it's small it's not going to weigh you down. In essence you have a fully capable machine compared to a lot of desktop machines available today at 10% of the size!

Granted if you need a dedicated graphics card for heavy design, you will not find this on the Surface, nor would you find it on most ultrabooks available on the market today. But saying that you need a very large monitor and for that reason the Surface wouldn't cut it, you are wrong! It is versatile, you can connect it to a monitor, you can use it as a notebook or a tablet when sitting on a train.

Microsoft has most definitely not missed it, in fact they have gotten it spot on. It's certain consumers that have missed it - not understood the reasons behind the Surface Pro nor how to utilise it to it's full potential.

When you see a small screen, don't instantly think iPad, it's much more. Within that small exterior you have a fully fledged desktop machine at your finger tips.

:)
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mikesmithfl

I certainly see what you mean. If I were still in coding/admin it would probably be fine for a tag-along device. But the lack of the bottom (or top) 120 pixels vs 1920x1200 is a -1 and the 10.6in diag is a -3 for my uses. It just wouldn't function properly - the extra couple inches in a Lenovo convertible/tablet is just about the minimum starter for my kind of work. I'm thinking along the lines of bringing on a flight or trip in a car instead of my mobile workstation. I know it wouldn't even be 50%, but the difference between the 10 pounds of laptop vs the 2 pounds of tablet would be worth it, if it had the full business-class HD and the extra real estate. I'm still pretty excited about it though. I might - just might - be lured into one for the novelty of it. :) 2
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Genjinaro

I paid about $1,100+ for my customized HP TM2 tablet, dedicated graphics, 500GB of storage, solid build (heavy) running Windows 8 Pro so I'm going to say, no way in hell.


I can't even accept buying a mackbook air at that price, I get that it has tablet/full pc functionality but it's lacking in "business oomph" comparison to recent ultrabooks, not to mention poor battery life.

Plus the cover is nearly the same price as ASUS' Transformer optional keyboard, it can justify its price; the touch cover, no so much.


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vudoo

Way overpriced. Fro the price of that I could get the top selling laptop out there in the market right now. Mackbook Air that has twice the battery life and is already established in the market.
Microsoft is going it at all wrong in regards to this push for the Surface and trying to charge a premium price for it. Who do you think will actually buy this thing? And having it only sold at a Microsoft Store?? Come on...
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praxis22

With a four hour battery life and a 64GB 3G retina iPad (10 hour battery) at $829 I think the answer would have to be No, or in Brit speak, "are you taking the piss?" :)
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anwaar

I don't think this would be good for the middle-class people... It's better to buy a Macbook than buying this
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markbrown83

WOW!!!! Did you actually just reply with that!?!?!?

I'm working class and I could easily afford a MacBook. Are you saying that only middle-class can afford a mac? How wrong...
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iDavidMartin

Personally, I feel Microsoft priced themselves out of the game here. I honestly thought Microsoft would sell it as a lost leader in order to get amazing adoption rates, but looks like they opted for a low sales high profit model.

Beyond price, two issues I hear from non techy people are one, they do not like the windows 8 interface and two, everything in the Microsoft worlds is always painfully slow and that is not the the case for the A&A world (Android and Apple). Does anyone remember the epic freeze at Microsoft's launch in September? The non techy YouTube fans seem to remember it well.

Windows entering the space with bad blood against them and priced out of the park leaves me questioning their intentions..
-1 like dislike
ReemyC

See; it's idiots like you that will keep this a two-pony race. It's obvious that you haven't taken the time out to actually play with the machine and see the quality for yourself. Why would you think that Microsoft would create yet another "me- too" product and sell it as a loss-leader when the Surface is actually a first of its kind product. Do you know of another full fledged PC that you can take anywhere? Another PC that is as flexible and light as a so called tablet? You state that you don't like the Windows 8 interface... Have you actually played with Windows 8 on a touch screen interface?

Freeze at launch? Really... the fact that you would bring up youtube comments on a forum like this only strengthens my comment. You have no clue what you're talking about and should probably sit down, shut up and think long and hard before speaking/typing.
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iDavidMartin

Wow. You come across as being so educated.
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vudoo

Wow... I'm glad you like the Surface.. but did you also know that.
$899 tablet will start up with only 23GB of usable space, while its $999 128GB big brother will actually have 83GB available.
And I believe thats not including the keyboard/cover which is like another $99.00.

So... if thats a good deal....You go for it....cause at that price..heck...I'd rather get an ultrabook with way better specs or even go Mac....

It's a no brainer..

0 like dislike
iDavidMartin

I guess it turns out I was right doesn't it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
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