Surface Pro review

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May 4, 2013
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This import review of Surface Pro was originally published in March. We present it again to mark the release of the device in the UK today.

Once upon a time, desktop CPU vendors pushed for massive leaps in computational power from one generation to the next. Now the game is changing - the drive for power efficiency has overtaken the need for more power, with x86 architecture on a collision course with the low-power ARM processors you typically find in your tablet and smartphone. John Carmack and others have suggested that there'll come a day where you won't leave your desktop or laptop at home - it will have become a core component in your smartphone. Microsoft's new Surface Pro - housing a fast x86 processor in a tablet-like form factor - hints at this future. It has its faults, just like any forward-looking first-generation product, but it's an intriguing proposition overall and an exceptional technological achievement.

First impressions are positive upon freeing the device from its rather ordinary packaging. The Pro's sibling - Surface RT - is a well-constructed device with a premium finish and this new model offers up more of the same. The general shape of the unit is very similar (indeed, viewed head-on it's identical) but it's considerably thicker and much heavier - coming across as a far meatier, more slate-like device than a conventional ARM-based tablet. It's hefty in tablet terms, but on the flipside it's a good deal lighter than an 11-inch ultrabook. Port arrangement and dimensions aside, the only real change to the aesthetic defined by the RT comes from a groove embedded around the diameter of the device - this is actually a vent and forms part of Microsoft's innovative approach to dissipating heat from a processing set-up that's far more power-hungry than the average mobile chip.

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