Even though Surface Pro isn't due to launch until February 9, reviews for the tablet went live tonight. Not surprisingly, reviewers loved the tablet's screen and its speedy Core i5 processor, but blasted the horrid battery life that puts it at the bottom of the pack.
The Verge: The magnetic dock connector along the device's bottom edge is used mostly for connecting the Type Cover and Touch Cover. Those haven't changed since the Surface RT, so check out Josh's take for more; the only thing that's different is small, gold plates in the connector itself — I don't know why it's different, and it doesn't change anything about the Covers, but it's a slight change. I quickly got used to the Type Cover other than its too-small trackpad, but while the Touch Cover may be an impressive technical achievement, I kind of hate using it. It's just not a satisfying typing experience.
It may all look more or less the same as the RT before it, but the Surface Pro feels different. Very different. It's heavy and big — more than a half-pound heavier than the Surface RT (just over two pounds to the RT's 1.5) and almost 50 percent thicker (.53 inches vs. .37). You really notice the difference in both cases, too. Couple that with its 10.81-inch width, and calling this device a tablet borders on the ridiculous. It's absolutely unusable in one hand, tiresome to hold while standing, and big enough that you'll notice it in your bag. Of course, that's only when compared to a tablet — a two-pound laptop is pretty fantastic, and that may be a more fair comparison anyway.
Actually, that's what frustrates me about the Surface Pro. It's definitely not a tablet, but it's also not a "laptop," strictly speaking - I never figured out how to actually use the thing on my lap, with a keyboard attached and the kickstand out. I like kickstands on tablets, and this one is plenty sturdy and clicks in and out with a satisfying firmness. It only goes out at one angle, though, which is too upright unless you're sitting at a desk with the Surface directly in front of you. But the real dealbreaker for me was that it's just unusable in my most common position — sitting on my couch, feet on the coffee table, with the computer on my lap. I'd spend forever getting the device balanced, only to have it tip over as soon as I touched the screen or tapped on the Type Cover. I don't know if a more flexible kickstand would solve the problem or not, but as it is you're pretty limited in the ways you can use the Surface Pro.
If you want a slim (for a laptop), handsome device that's easy to carry back and forth between your desks at home and work, the Surface Pro fits the bill pretty nicely — I have near-identical keyboard / mouse / monitor setups at The Verge office and in my apartment, and only having to lug two pounds back and forth was great. But if, like me, you often find yourself using your computer on the couch, on your lap, on your chest while you lie in bed, or really anywhere without a desk, both Surface models feel clumsy and awkward. You're much better off with a device like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, or really any device that's a laptop first and something else second.
Engadget: But, with the Surface Pro, the resolution added by stepping up to 1,920 x 1,080 makes things a little more complicated. Here we have a 10.6-inch display that looks great, offering very nice contrast and brightness, plus viewing angles that maintain that contrast from just about wherever you can see the display. (Helpful, that, because the non-adjustable kickstand means you'll quite often be looking at this thing from a less-than-optimal perspective.) It's optically bonded, like on the RT, which reduces glare when compared to a traditional glossy panel.
It's that higher resolution that we occasionally struggled with when running desktop apps. By default, the tablet is set to scale text to 150 percent its original size, making most (but not all) menus and buttons huge and reasonably finger-friendly. That's great when you're actually using your fingers, but it results in a lot of wasted space on the display when you're using a mouse. More troublingly, it made the text and icons in many apps appear rather blurry.
So, we tweaked the scaling down to 100 percent and the result is the 1:1 pixel rendition that you'd normally expect from Windows. Everything now looks perfect and the fact that you can even toggle this option feels like a luxury compared to the Retina MacBook Pros, where OS X mandates some degree of scaling. When running apps at 100 percent, the visuals are much cleaner, and those who want maximum screen real estate will be happiest here -- but in this view scrollbars and other on-screen controls are tricky to hit accurately with a finger. Interacting with the desktop without a mouse suddenly becomes a chore.
Moving from the RT to the Pro will net you more horsepower under the hood, but this comes at the expense of battery life. We ran the Pro for several days from heavy video to light web surfing. On an average of six runs from full power to having the machine shut itself down, we scored an average of 4 hours and 29 minutes of battery life. Like any other products, when watching video, the battery will drain rapidly and only using word processing will allow you to sip the battery juice and extend the life of the device. We ran all tests with 75% brightness with WiFi and Bluetooth always on.
NEOWIN: Moving from the RT to the Pro will net you more horsepower under the hood, but this comes at the expense of battery life. We ran the Pro for several days from heavy video to light web surfing. On an average of six runs from full power to having the machine shut itself down, we scored an average of 4 hours and 29 minutes of Battery life. Like any other products, when watching video, the battery will drain rapidly and only using word processing will allow you to sip the battery juice and extend the life of the device. We ran all tests with 75% brightness with WiFi and Bluetooth always on.