Monthly Archives: October 2013
I had the chance to review both the Surface RT and Surface Pro thanks to loan units from Microsoft Malaysia (I’m aware of rumours for Surface 2 and will review when available). This review shall focus on corporate use since my company is considering equipping mobile users with lighter and smaller devices.
The Surface Pro is ideal for this purpose as it runs Windows 8 on standard Intel platform and is in a tablet form. Surface RT which is a variant of Windows 8 unfortunately does not support installation of Windows applications except from Windows Store hence this limits it somewhat for corporate usage. Other tablets such as IPAD or Android ones lack the support for Windows applications or compatible Office productivity tools for any real use in corporate environments.
First up, the Surface RT. I didn’t really test it that much for reason mentioned above. The great thing with RT is it comes standard with MS Office and is not too heavy. The touch keyboard is ok once you get used to it, and it helps keep the overall package light. I read reports of laggy performance for the RT but i didn’t experience any such issues during my usage.
The Surface Pro is a much thicker and heavier device as compared to Surface RT (dimensions are the same except for thickness). One thing you will immediately notice after using it for a short while is the heat, the bottom baes can get pretty quite hot which can make holding it or putting on your lap uncomfortable. You can also hear the fans come on quite frequently to cool the device.
Since Surface Pro runs standard Windows 8, i was able to install all my office software without any problems. Once nice thing is IE supports Silverlight as i have some web applications developed using it. No other tablet browsers i know can support Silverlight (not even Surface RT since there was no Silverlight installer in Windows Store). Unfortunately the Surface Pro doesn’t come standard with MS Office (what?, at this price range), so you need to purchase your own copy or subscribe to Office 365. Also, the Metro Skype version doesn’t support the older Skype logins only live IDs. This i find pretty ridiculous as there many Skype users who don’t use live ID logins. In fact my entire company runs Skype for IM so the Metro Skype can’t be used. The solution i found was to install the desktop version of Skype which still works with Skype logins. However it is not integrated into Metro so you might miss some notifications if you are not in the desktop.
In summary (Surface Pro):
- Works just like a PC but in tablet form. Good for frequent travellers who want something light
- Touchscreen makes using Metro with ease
- Type keyboard is quite good and effective and is detachable when not needed
- Supports all your needed software and applications
- Power adapter includes a separate USB for charging other devices at the same time (this is really cool!)
- The most common complaint, angle of the stand is awkward and downright unuseable. On table or lap, you can’t view it comfortably using the stand
- Runs hot and fan is noisy
- Much thicker and heavier than most tablets including Surface RT
- Expensive (no MS Office, keyboards and display port cables are all separate)
- Not Surface specific, also another common complaint is the confusing Metro and desktop modes
- Battery life not that good
- Screen and fonts may be a bit too small for some users (you can however increase the screen magnification)
So the final conclusion, Surface Pro is well suited as a replacement for your PC or notebook in a lightweight tablet form and still continue to provide all your software and applications needed in a corporate environment. The rumoured Surface Pro 2 which will run on Haswell might give better performance and battery life but it may be a while before it reaches our shores.