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3 Reasons Why Surface Pro is Priced Right

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 51 comments

We have grown accustomed to the fact that a high-end tablet should have a $500 base price. Anything above is viewed as expensive and anything below makes you wonder what the catch might be.

Learning that Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet will cost at least $899, excluding a touch or type cover, it might be a sticker shock at first look, but for most of us this may actually be the Windows 8 device of choice.

The base price of $899 will get you a Windows 8 x86 tablet based on an Intel Core i5 processor, as well as a 10.6-inch display with 1920x1080 that exceeds the 1366x768 pixel resolution of the Surface RT tablet. The Surface Pro will also support pen input.

It's an Ultrabook.

The Surface RT tablet was chastised to be a bit on the slow side to open and run applications, which should be fixed with the Core i5 processor. Take all other hardware specs into account, especially the higher-grade screen, and you have a considerably more powerful machine -- even if that means that your battery time will be cut in half. If you add the $130 type cover, you end up with a $1,030 computer, which is a pretty strong contender in the Ultrabook space. Sure, you could argue that the device isn't quite as pretty as some of the other high-end ultra-books, but as far as flexibility goes, this is about as good as it gets today.

It's a Tablet.

The flexibility, of course, relates to being a tablet. I am personally not a big fan of vertical touch surfaces (like a laptop LCD) and have been pretty disappointed by the flimsy touchscreens on current generation Windows 8 notebooks - which is, by the way, non issue on Surface due to its fixed vertical stand. However, for people like me, touch is really useful on screens that lay flat on a surface, which you can do with this tablet - and use it as a tablet if you want to. If the screen of the Surface Pro is as good as Microsoft says, and if the pen input is compelling for note taking and sketches, the Surface Pro could be a very convincing notebook/tablet combination for your job. As much as we love iPads these, Surface Pro has a good shot to becoming the best platform to bridge the home and business world for today's computing needs.

It's Windows.

Let's be realistic. Windows RT has some advantages, but needs time to mature and especially attract applications. Its biggest downside is the fact that you can't run Windows x86 applications; Microsoft will have to make a tremendous investment to attract developers to this platform. x86 Windows comes with its usual downsides and long loading times. But it is the Windows we are used to, and it is the Windows that runs our applications today. It may not have the platform appeal of Google Play or Apple App Store apps yet, but the Windows Store appears to be growing nicely, and let's not forget that HTML5 is cross-platform. Even with hybrid apps that use native code and HTML5 code, it does not take much to predict that the Windows Store will grow nicely over time.

The Bottom Line

It would be wrong to consider the Surface Pro to be an expensive tablet. It should rather be seen as an upscale Ultrabook that has the option of being a tablet being thrown in for free. It is the kind of device we have been waiting for to evolve the idea of Apple's iPad - and it is Microsoft's best effort to showcase the Windows 8 UI yet. Could it be improved? Sure: Let's integrate a Kinect sensor into the screen, please.

 

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  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 5, 2012 2:27 PM
    Brilliant! Finally a tech writer whose head doesn't explode at the thought of a tablet more expensive than the IPad and realizes that the Surface Pro will be revolutionary. Yes it is more expensive, but buying an ultrabook/macbook air/even a decent $500 laptop AND an IPad/Surface RT/Nexus 7 will still come out to cost the same if not more expensive than this all in one combo. It's just people don't feel so bad buying a $400 IPad when they already paid 400-700 for a laptop some previous time. They forget that they are buying two pieces of tech when they should be able to buy just one. The Surface Pro solves this play/work divide. You get the functionality of Windows and all the work that Windows allows, WITH the fun and portability of having a tablet. Also, a lot of people don't realize (and I praise this writer for realizing this) is that a lot of us NEED windows for work. I work in the legal field, and aside from law students, every working professional attorney I have ever seen is running a windows PC. Bravo for a well written well thought out article.
  • 10 Hide
    kcorp2003 , December 5, 2012 2:12 PM
    Getting that desktop experience on the go, will be amazing. i'll be productive (with higher end software). finishing up my assignments. There is a difference between Win8 and Win8 RT. x86 tablet with win8 should be their main goal to begin with.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    kcorp2003 , December 5, 2012 2:12 PM
    Getting that desktop experience on the go, will be amazing. i'll be productive (with higher end software). finishing up my assignments. There is a difference between Win8 and Win8 RT. x86 tablet with win8 should be their main goal to begin with.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , December 5, 2012 2:20 PM
    if you can still go desktop with this, it may be a decent choice for a laptop...

    that said, they specifically mention input pen...
    does it has sensitivity? different pressures? angle? or is it a glorified 3$ pos you can find on amazon that just emulates a finger?
  • 0 Hide
    chewy1963 , December 5, 2012 2:23 PM
    Yep this is the one I've been waiting for. And is really the only scenario where Win 8 should be better than Win 7. Don't know why MS didn't release this one before the RT machine. It's obvious that RT needs more ecosystem some of which could have been developed more if they had reversed the release order/timing.
  • 2 Hide
    newyorkcitymale , December 5, 2012 2:25 PM
    I think many experts are wrong about Microsoft's pricing on the Surface. I mean, yes, they're pricey, but they also represent the high end of the market; therefore, they're not competing with their partners on a volume basis. It's totally possible that Microsoft doesn't expect the Surface products to be the best-selling Windows 8 devices on the market. They just want them to be the best, and they want to make a pretty penny off the ones they sell.
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 5, 2012 2:27 PM
    Brilliant! Finally a tech writer whose head doesn't explode at the thought of a tablet more expensive than the IPad and realizes that the Surface Pro will be revolutionary. Yes it is more expensive, but buying an ultrabook/macbook air/even a decent $500 laptop AND an IPad/Surface RT/Nexus 7 will still come out to cost the same if not more expensive than this all in one combo. It's just people don't feel so bad buying a $400 IPad when they already paid 400-700 for a laptop some previous time. They forget that they are buying two pieces of tech when they should be able to buy just one. The Surface Pro solves this play/work divide. You get the functionality of Windows and all the work that Windows allows, WITH the fun and portability of having a tablet. Also, a lot of people don't realize (and I praise this writer for realizing this) is that a lot of us NEED windows for work. I work in the legal field, and aside from law students, every working professional attorney I have ever seen is running a windows PC. Bravo for a well written well thought out article.
  • 9 Hide
    cercuitspark , December 5, 2012 2:31 PM
    alidanif you can still go desktop with this, it may be a decent choice for a laptop...that said, they specifically mention input pen...does it has sensitivity? different pressures? angle? or is it a glorified 3$ pos you can find on amazon that just emulates a finger?


    It runs Windows 8, just like any other desktop/laptop. It's x86, it runs everything your Windows 7 PC can.

    The pen is a Wacom pen, it's pretty much the same as Samsungs S pen (which is a Wacom pen).
  • -3 Hide
    classzero , December 5, 2012 2:31 PM
    I'll develop on my less expensive laptop that supports touch! Sorry Overpriced
  • -6 Hide
    alidan , December 5, 2012 2:38 PM
    cercuitsparkIt runs Windows 8, just like any other desktop/laptop. It's x86, it runs everything your Windows 7 PC can.The pen is a Wacom pen, it's pretty much the same as Samsungs S pen (which is a Wacom pen).


    that doesnt mean it cant be an altered version without the desktop mode

    now as for the pen... i know wacom makes pressure, angle sensitive pens, but if i remember right they also make finger replacement pens that are just a fake finger...

    what does the samsung s use so i have some frame of reference.
  • 5 Hide
    bystander , December 5, 2012 2:41 PM
    classzeroI'll develop on my less expensive laptop that supports touch! Sorry Overpriced

    So what you are saying is that having a table form factor and digitizer is worth $0 and should be given free?

    Whether you want to buy it is one thing, but it definitely has features to make it worth more than your laptop.
  • 6 Hide
    ddpruitt , December 5, 2012 2:44 PM
    Or you can buy an actual tablet PC that's bigger, more powerful, runs x86 apps, and is the same price.
  • 0 Hide
    alexthager , December 5, 2012 2:45 PM
    Now what about that battery life?
  • 8 Hide
    bigdragon , December 5, 2012 2:45 PM
    What I really want to know is why I should purchase the Surface Pro rather than the Samsung ATIV 700T. It appears to me that the ATIV has more levels of pressure sensitivity (1024 vs 256), a place to stow the stylus, a larger screen, better battery life, and hinges like a traditional laptop when the keyboard is attached as opposed to a kickstand. What makes the Surface Pro better? All I see is that it's a little cheaper.
  • -1 Hide
    bystander , December 5, 2012 2:52 PM
    bigdragonWhat I really want to know is why I should purchase the Surface Pro rather than the Samsung ATIV 700T. It appears to me that the ATIV has more levels of pressure sensitivity (1024 vs 256), a place to stow the stylus, a larger screen, better battery life, and hinges like a traditional laptop when the keyboard is attached as opposed to a kickstand. What makes the Surface Pro better? All I see is that it's a little cheaper.

    $300-$600 I assume.
  • 4 Hide
    jdwii , December 5, 2012 2:59 PM
    I wouldn't get this i would rather buy a A10 laptop for 600$ and then buy a 200$ Nexus 7 that is pretty good mobility. Not to mention a possible new smart phone.
  • -3 Hide
    edlivian , December 5, 2012 2:59 PM
    Disclaimer: im not an apple fanboy, I do not own any apple devices.

    But for $1030 (with keyboard) I rather get MBA.

    imo, I think $1000 is too much to spend for a type of device I like to upgrade every 2-3 years.

    I like to spend $600-700 for an ultrabook
  • 0 Hide
    innocent bystander , December 5, 2012 3:12 PM
    If something goes wrong with it it's a $1K brick.

    Personally that's why I'll never understand the appeal behind tablets. I want my gear fixable. Even if it's just a laptop I'd like to know that I can replace the screen, HDD, memory, keyboard, etc.

    Tablets just seem... useless.

    IB
  • 2 Hide
    d_kuhn , December 5, 2012 3:16 PM
    I don't have a problem with the price, but it will definitely limit the audience to folks looking for a premium product. The Samsung is definitely a viable competitor - I'd personally prefer not to have a detachable kb to keep track of (I really like the surface kickstand/integrated kb concept) but I'd have to actually play with both before I could make a call - the Samsung has some advantages also.

    I don't really see the Air as competition other than folks who are ok with a traditional ultrabook... they're not tablets. I don't like carrying multiple devices on the road so I want something to replace my Ultrabook and iPad and do a good job of being both - and I think this device (or the Samsung) could possibly do it.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 5, 2012 3:25 PM
    I am very much looking forward to this hybrid product. Many people are saying that they would rather spend money on a laptop instead of this tablet, if they do not want a tablet form factor then this product is not for them. It is silly to compare the surface pro directly to laptops because it is not a laptop. In the same vein, it is silly to compare it directly to other tablets (unless they are running Win8).
  • 0 Hide
    nurgletheunclean , December 5, 2012 3:32 PM
    The problem is that i5 ultrabooks can be had for ~$500 today. The larger form factor is going to be more desirable for actual work too. Personally I have a multi-monitor desktop, a 17" laptop, 11.6" laptop, a 10" android tablet and a 7" android tablet, and a SG2s phone. 93% of my computer/tablet time is spent on the desktop, 5% on the phone, 1% on the 11.6" laptop, 1% on everything else.

    Surface dings:
    $130 for a type keyboard that's inferior to type on than a $10 desktop keyboard.
    Cost more than a i5 desktop with 3 monitors.
    Touchscreen more awkward than a mouse.
    vastly unupgradeable compared to desktop.
    fewer external connectors/peripherals, USB,PS2,DVI,HDMI,DVD,ESATA.
    lower disk an memory capacity.
    mobile CPU slower than desktop counterpart.

    So yes the surface is relatively powerful ultrabook in a tablet form factor. But seriously if you require that kind of power to do your work, you are already using a desktop, are you really going to switch to a tablet? Even a notebook/ultrabook offers a better windows experience. and a Nexus 7 is far less expensive, more portable, has better battery life, and offers a completely adequate casual experience. The Surface is nothing more than another gimmicky product for people to show off how fashion conscious they are at their local Starbucks.
  • 0 Hide
    hoofhearted , December 5, 2012 3:40 PM
    I'll wait a year until they lower the price and work all the issues out. Still will be nice to have a tablet that can run my steam library (at least some of the less demanding titles), maybe some GOG stuff, I can take to the gym and watch my mkv ripped movies while I do stairmaster, be able to access files and such across my network without going through 3rd party apps.

    They still need a GPS and a flash for the camera though. Maybe NFC too.
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