With Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet set to launch within the next few days (on February 9th), the company lifted their embargo on reviews. The first round of Surface Pro reviews already surfaced last night – and overall, they were downright brutal! A lack of apps, short battery life, and a confusing interface were common complaints.
On the other hand, the Surface Pro hardware got mostly positive comments for its fast, responsive processor, a crisp and easy-to-read display – although for the same money, you could purchase much more powerful PC or Mac notebooks.
Here are some highlights from the first round of reviews (all emphasis is my own). It looks like Apple and the iPad don’t have much to worry about…
Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal
…just as the Pro is compromised as a tablet, it’s compromised as a laptop. You get fewer ports and less storage than on many laptops and a keyboard that can’t compare with those on many laptops.
Some users may not mind the price or bulk of the Surface Pro if it frees them from carrying a tablet for some uses and a laptop for others. But like many products that try to be two things at once, the new Surface Windows 8 Pro does neither as well as those designed for one function.
Kyle Wagner, Gizmodo
If it fits your professional needs, you’ll at least want to consider it. Same goes if you have enough scratch to take a flyer on a secondary computer (that also happens to represent the future of computing). For anyone else, the Surface Pro probably isn’t worth it.
The Surface Pro is ultimately the best answer to questions a lot of people haven’t bothered asking yet. That’s different from being extraneous—it’s more like being the girl who shows up 30 minutes early to every party—but it still means the Pro isn’t for everyone. For a lot of you, a thick, superpowered tablet isn’t necessary, and a laptop-like (and laptop-priced) machine that makes it harder to bang out emails, IMs, and tweets while on the couch or in bed is nothing you’re interested in.
David Pierce, The Verge
Even a well-executed Surface still doesn’t work for me, and I’d bet it doesn’t work for most other people either. It’s really tough to use on anything but a desk, and the wide, 16:9 aspect ratio pretty severely limits its usefulness as a tablet anyway. It’s too big, too fat, and too reliant on its power cable to be a competitive tablet, and it’s too immutable to do everything a laptop needs to do. In its quest to be both, the Surface is really neither. It’s supposed to be freeing, but it just feels limiting.
Jon Phillips, PC World
Surface Pro is superior to Surface RT on multiple levels. It’s also the world’s best pure Windows tablet (its keyboard accessories notwithstanding), and the Surface model I recommend. But the Windows 8 hardware universe has changed significantly since the Surface brand launched last October. We have many more options to choose from, and hybrid devices that offer more PC than tablet are looking like the machines that make the smarter compromises.
Give me more screen real estate, Microsoft. Give me a keyboard that I can type on all day. You’re getting so, so close to that sublime, perfect marriage of tablet and PC. Surface Pro isn’t the answer—but it comes close.
Scott Stein, CNET
The Surface Pro’s gutsy design successfully reinvents the Windows 8 laptop by cramming an ultrabook experience into the body of a 10-inch tablet. Those wanting to go all-in on the tablet experience won’t regret buying the Surface Pro, but we’re holding out for a future, more polished generation of the device.We hope to get our own hands on a Surface Pro soon – if and when we do, we’ll be sure to share our impression of Microsoft’s latest and greatest tablet as well!
Joanna Stern, ABC News
As a tablet, the Surface Pro is not as strong as its competitors. It’s larger, the battery life can’t compete and still lacks critical apps. As a laptop it’s hampered by its smaller screen size, lack of a good mouse option and the fact that it doesn’t really sit on your lap. Putting the two together results in a breed that’s simply not as compelling as separate tablets and laptops.
Harry McCracken, TIME
I’m not arguing that Surface with Windows 8 Pro is a machine without a market. If you equip it with an external display, keyboard and mouse, it becomes a serviceable desktop PC, and if you stick to Windows 8 apps, it may be the best Windows 8 tablet so far. If I were shopping for an Ultrabook and my budget allowed, I’d consider it. But used with the applications I tried, Surface Pro doesn’t prove that one computing device can do everything well. Instead, it makes clear that there’s no such thing as no-compromise computing.
That’s not the lesson Microsoft intended, but it’s a useful one nonetheless — for consumers, for the industry and maybe even for Microsoft.
We hope to get our own hands on a Surface Pro soon – if and when we do, we’ll be sure to share our impression of Microsoft’s latest and greatest tablet as well!