Microsoft Surface Pro review

The 10.6in Windows 8 hybrid tablet finally launches in the UK, but it's not worth the wait.

IT admins need devices to be easily serviceable and upgradeable. After all businesses want devices to not only have high-performance but provide longevity.

Microsoft has chosen to take the same route as its arch-rival Apple and completely lockdown component access in the Pro. For a device that is marketed as a business tool, this is a fatal move.

Teardown website iFixit gave the Pro a reparability score of just 1/10, the lowest of any mainstream Windows and Apple device.

A comprehensive teardown revealed Microsoft doesn't want you removing or replacing any key components. The battery and display are tightly fitted with glue, and iFixit warns that if you try and remove the SSD there's a good chance you'll kill the device completely. There are total of 90 screws inside too so putting everything back where you found it isn't straightforward.

Battery life

The Core i5 chip and the HD display are capable of burning through the battery on the Pro, so all-day battery life is not expected or claimed by Microsoft. You'll get five hours out of the device at a push, with the brightness turned down and Wi-Fi used sparingly.

The battery life is similar to the Ultrabooks on the market, but the catch is that business-orientated devices let you swap out the battery. As mentioned this isn't possible with the Surface Pro.

There are reports suggesting Microsoft may introduce a thicker Type cover with a built-in battery to boost the longevity of the device, but nothing has been confirmed.

Pricing

The Surface Pro is priced at an eye-watering 720 (64GB) and this is without the touch and type cover. If you want the 128GB edition, this is going to set you back 800. This is just not competitive, especially when OEM devices such as the ThinkPad 2 are available for 700.

Details about wide-scale deployment for UK enterprises are missing at this time, but Microsoft is likely to sell it at a cheaper price in bulk.

Overall

Is it possible to recommend this device for widespread rollouts? The answer is a resounding no. The Surface Pro is a valiant attempt at making a high-end machine, but ultimately it fails as a hybrid.

It's too small to be an Ultrabook replacement, and too heavy and power hungry to be an all-day tablet companion.

The cost and lack of serviceability are two major factors why this cannot be recommended for a business deployment. Coupled with the lack of pre-installed software (you only get an Office trial), there is nothing here that makes the Surface Pro unique, except the kickstand.

If you really want a Windows 8 tablet, the best we've come across so far is the Dell Latitude 10 tablet. This delivers the best balance between performance, serviceability and design.

For pure multimedia consumption, the iPad range is still the king because of the vast content empire stored in iTunes.

Verdict

The Surface Pro fails to live up to expectations. Despite the HD screen and solid performance, it's weak when it comes to portability and doesn't do enough to stand out from OEM competitors.

Processor: Intel Core i5 1.7GHz 

RAM: 4GB DDR3

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000

Display: 10.6in 1,920 x 1,080

Storage: 128GB SSD

Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology

Ports: 1 x USB 3, micro SDXC card reader, mini-DisplayPort, proprietory chargers

Dimensions: 274 x 173 x 13.5mm (WxDxH)

WEIGHT: 910g

OS: Windows 8 Pro 64-bit

Warrenty: 1-year limited hardware warranty

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