Microsoft Surface Pro Proves that the PC is Back

Microsoft has proven it can build a nice-looking tablet with the Surface RT. The Surface Pro was for months just a mythical device, Microsoft’s unreleased attempt to blend both beauty and power into the perfect Windows 8 machine.

Microsoft designed its very own Surface Pro tablets to make the point – the tablet was, well, a tablet, but innovative keyboards with built-in trackpads turn it into a ‘fully working’ laptop. Photo: Techaholic11/Flickr

The Surface Pro is the product Microsoft should have debuted to carry the banner of Windows 8 last fall. The Surface Pro fulfills the promise of Windows 8: Your PC and your tablet — your entire digital life, really — all on one device you can take anywhere.

By some standards, the Microsoft Surface Pro is the best-ever hybrid of tablet and laptop, combining a full windows 8 OS with an Intel Core i5 CPU, and a best-in-class detachable keyboard cover, as CNet wrote.

The Surface Pro aims to solve the problems of the Surface RT with a faster Core i5 processor and a full version of Windows 8. It sounds like a laptop and it’s priced like one too – it costs $899 (or $1,000 when you add the keyboard).

On its surface there’s little distinction between the Pro and RT Surface models. This device is the same testament to Microsoft’s newly refined design aesthetic, with simple lines and clean edges that make it a handsome tablet in a business-casual sort of way.

It has the same all-black design with squarer edges than the iPad, a full USB port, and a mini-HDMI port. It’s crafted of the same durable VaporMg metal material, allowing it to withstand the nastiest drops and bumps.

The Pro also has a Mini DisplayPort for connection to an external display — something you’re going to be much more inclined to do with this device — whereas the RT sports the microHDMI connector that’s more common on phones.

The two-pound, .53-inch Surface Pro is a half a pound heavier and 0.16 inches thicker than the Surface RT and the iPad. Those numbers might not mean much on paper, but they make a big difference in your hand or in a bag.

Generally, though, the two Surfaces are very similar, and it shows in their shared compatibility with Microsoft’s much-hyped Touch Cover. The accessory fits both models perfectly, attaching to the magnetic connectors with the exact same click sound.

The 10.6-inch screen has a higher 1920 x 1080 resolution now, making everything look crisper and higher quality than the RT’s 1366 x 768 display. The increased resolution does make it easier if you want to run programs side by side, but the screen size is a bit cramped when it comes to turning the tablet into a laptop to do work.

The Surface Pro is equipped like a laptop, and a pretty good one at that: it has a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317u processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage.

Of course, there’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well as a light sensor, accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope. As with the Surface RT, there’s no way to get 3G or 4G radios built into the device.

There are two cameras on the Surface Pro, both capable of recording 720p video.

The Surface Pro is powered by Windows 8 – actual, honest-to-goodness, no-compromises Windows 8. Since it’s powered by an Intel processor, it can run legacy Windows apps, so your Quicken and Photoshop needs will finally be satiated. And in general, it runs remarkably smoothly, says Verge.

Intel chips run a lot hotter than the Tegra 3 inside the Surface RT, so the Surface Pro does get a little warm as you use it, especially on the upper left side. It’s not nearly hot enough to be an issue, just a small reminder that you’re using a laptop and not a tablet.

The beauty, though, of the Surface Pro is that you can download any previous Windows sketching program or any program for that matter. You can download any of the apps in the Store that were designed for touchscreens, and also any programs via the web for Windows 7.

The wider selection of apps solves one of the biggest issues of the original, but the lack of some apps in the store is noticeable. There are still no great Twitter or Facebook apps for Windows 8, and while you can access either of those through the two Web browsers , says the ABC News.

Something you do get in the box, however, is the Pro’s digitizing Pen, which is made to work specifically with this device. The Pen is a pressure-sensitive stylus with a button to “click” input. It can attach to the magnetic ports on the pro when you’re not using it, but it’s not a powered device.

Microsoft says the pen has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, painting thicker lines when you press harder, for example. The “eraser” end of the Pen has a cool function: It actually works as an eraser. The end is made of soft plastic to ensure it glides nicely along the screen.

The device itself even knows when your pen is nearby, showing a dot on the screen before you even tap; that’s huge for using Photoshop, or anything else that requires a deft touch. The pen’s not something you’ll use all the time, but it’s a great addition to a touch-friendly device.

It’s better than a laptop because it’s more portable. It’s better than a phone because you can get more done on a big screen. It’s better than other Windows 8 tablets because it’s more powerful. And it’s better than an iPad because it’s made for productivity from the start.

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