Surface Pro review


May 4, 2013

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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