In a world of overgrown cell phones… A world where thin and light masks gimpy guts… One tablet… Aspired to be different… One tablet… Dreamed of being… A laptop!
Big dramatic music cue and-
Microsoft Surface Pro: The Ultrabook you want. The tablet you crave.
Or is it?
It was inevitable: PC power in a tablet form factor. The big surprise was that Microsoft, perhaps not the first name that comes to mind as either a PC or tablet manufacturer, was first to market with this dream hybrid. Rocking an Intel dual-core Core i5 Processor, 4 GB of RAM, 1080p display, and running the full, 64-bit version of Windows 8 Pro, Surface Pro is undoubtedly the first of a new generation in portable computing.
In this edition of the Weekend Watchlist we take a look at the first reviews and hands-on impressions of early adopters to see if Surface Pro is the third coming of the PC or just another tablet turkey.
First up, an overview of the device straight from Microsoft.
A word of warning before we get started: People seem unable to discuss the Surface Pro without comparing it ad nauseam to Microsoft’s earlier tablet offering, the Surface RT. In case you missed it (and, judging from sales number, most did), Surface RT is a whole ‘nother animal that probably shouldn’t even share the same name as this device. The Surface RT was a ARM based device running a significantly scaled back version of Windows 8 and was much more akin to a traditional Android tablet. General consensus was that it was a slick piece of hardware with some serious software deficits, performance concerns, and compatibility issues. Again, not the same category of device as what we’re looking at here, but seeing as how the Surface Pro looks and is named similarly, comparisons are inevitable.
Now that we’re all on the same page and know what exactly Surface Pro is, let’s roll the reviews! In keeping with our dramatic opening, here’s a dramatic review from The Verge.
How long do you think that took to edit together? Egad. Anywho, for a much more casual and delightfully rambling take on the Surface Pro, here is Chris “lockergnome” Pirillo.
Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only company with Windows 8 PC disguised as a tablet. Lisa Gade of MobileTechReview stacked up the Surface Pro against Samsung’s ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T and Acer’s Iconia W700.
So how much like a PC is Surface Pro? So PC you can get into the bios! Not that there’s much there.
So if it’s really a PC, we can run our favorite benchmarking software on Surface Pro, right? You bet’cha! YouTuber Stefan1126 cranked up gamer favorite torture test 3DMark to give this thing a run for it’s money. For those not familiar with 3DMark, know that this application is designed to crush any system to a pulp, not generate silky-smooth framerates.
You can check out those 3DMark scores and a TON of technical details gathered from the testing for yourself here. Stefan also has a few more vids of the Surface Pro running gaming applications on his channel.
PC gaming can be a devastating test of even the most stalwart system. Pretty pixel processing, physics emulation, and AI routines are all forced to compete for processor cycles in real-time. And it’s a whole lot cooler to watch than calculating pi or encoding video. With this in mind, grab a warm jacket; We’re heading back to Skyrim!
Volume Warning: The following video is louder than others in this Watchlist. It also takes a moment before things get loud. Also, that chime from the healing spell drives me nuts! WTF, Bethesda?
After about 4 hours of testing. gizmomashify pegged their average fps in Skyrim at about 24 using low detail settings.
So what do we think? We here at GUO tend to believe that early adopters are suckers and first generation devices are seldom fully baked before being unleashed on the public. That said, Microsoft’s Surface Pro is both an evolutionary and revolutionary product that is well worth being excited about. It is a shot that will be heard around the industry as, it turns out, the device that may truly usher us into the ‘post-PC era’ is, in fact, a PC. Or is it an UltraTab?
Take a good look at today’s laptops. It won’t be long before you’ll think they look like this: