Hands On with the Microsoft Surface Pro

Now that we’ve done the unboxing of the Microsoft Surface Pro, let’s get into my initial impressions of the little device after playing with it for about an hour!

I’ve got to tell you, in this short hour, this thing is fantastically better than the Surface with RT that I reviewed a while back (and that’s not just the Big Sky Cowboy Coffee Porter talking). My initial impressions have been largely positive, even though it’s running on Windows 8. My opinion of Windows 8 hasn’t changed, but my experiences with Windows 8 have changed with every new piece of hardware on which it runs that I try.

All that being said, let me repeat: My initial impressions of the Microsoft Surface Pro — running Windows 8 — are positive.

I’ve got a few qualifiers on that. I went to pull out the Lenovo Yoga (which I also unboxed live on YouTube) just for the sake of comparison. That’s what’s so far provided me with the Windows 8 experience on a dedicated machine (beyond virtual machines like Parallels) since its unboxing.

By and large, and this will come as a shock to many of you, I think the Surface Pro may very well become my new go-to Windows 8 machine. Sure, there are a few things that I’ve found disappointing (which is usually the case with any new device I get — even my favorite devices aren’t perfect), but nothing that should detract me from wanting to use the Surface Pro on a regular basis.

Here are some of the positive things I’ve experienced with the Microsoft Surface Pro:

The Surface Pro’s power brick has a USB port on it! So instead of having to take up a USB port (the only one) on the machine, you get to use your power brick as a USB port extension. I think this is a great design choice that utilizes the included equipment intelligently.

Unlike some contenders in its class, the Surface Pro doesn’t feel like a cheap chunk of plastic that will fall apart the second or third time you open it up. It’s solid.

The screen — and overall hardware — is incredibly responsive. I haven’t yet tried it with lots of background processing going on, but I get the feeling that it can keep up. I’ve not had the internal fan kick in when watching YouTube videos, for instance.

The applications are, likewise, incredibly responsive. I can swipe around a map, for instance, and not notice any real lag or system response shortcomings.

The cameras are clean enough. They’re designed more for uses like video conferencing than, say, the creation of fine art — in this, I think the Surface Pro succeeds in working as intended.

The Windows button vibrates when you click on it. Haptic feedback is always nice, especially when you want to know why your device is behaving in a certain way if you’re prone to accidentally knocking into things!

It passes the Cut the Rope test!

I like the levels of pressure sensitivity demonstrated by the stylus. It works nicely with painting programs.

Since there’s no such thing as a perfect device, here are a few of what I’d consider Microsoft Surface Pro negatives:

It can be a bit slippery and unbalanced. The edges aren’t as rounded — or comfortable — as I’d like when anticipating long periods of use. This isn’t uncommon among tablets, but I hope it’s something that’s addressed in future generations of Surface Pros — and portable devices, in general.

It’s kind of thick and heavy for use as a tablet computer.

The only place there is to park the stylus impedes your ability to charge the device!

The Windows button is pretty easy to click accidentally, which can have some fairly jarring consequences.

When the keyboard is snapped in place, you’ll need a tabletop, desk, or… okay, I’ll say it: surface to use your Surface Pro comfortably. (I guess that helps understand the product name a little better.) A laptop, this ain’t!

The touch keyboard that I’ve been using doesn’t magnetically “stick” to the unit when it’s closed, and I’ve noticed a few missed keystrokes (even when audible feedback has reported otherwise). Granted, these could merely be issues with my own keyboard and not one that you might use, or even with my personal Surface Pro unit. My time with the two hasn’t been extensive enough to know for sure. Perhaps another Surface/keyboard combination wouldn’t produce these annoyances at all — I just can’t say. Still, it works just fine 99% of the time. That’s almost a positive!

This isn’t a laptop. This isn’t really a tablet. The Microsoft Surface Pro is its own kind of device. Is it an anything killer? I wouldn’t go that far, but I’d say it’s potentially an upgrade if you’ve got a netbook, notebook, or even an older desktop unit. There are no glaring red flags that would keep me from recommending this unit if you’ve read the specs and compared them with other, similar devices that you’re considering and this is the one that you’ve decided is your best fit. There are certainly a few things not to like about the Microsoft Surface Pro, but there’s no device on the market that’s 100% free of caveats.

If you were with us live when I talked about the Microsoft Surface Pro, then you know I went into it a bit more and answered some questions from the community about my experiences with it. If you weren’t with us live, then you should follow us on YouTube so that you can join in when we do this sort of thing in the future (and we do a lot of ‘em)!

Article Written by

Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.