Microsoft's Surface Pro Tablet Reviews Are Mixed

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 01:13 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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Tech nerds have long awaited the arrival of the Microsoft Surface Pro, the company's first tablet, which will hit the market Friday.

The Surface tablet will come in two versions, one running Windows RT, based on the same chip designs that power most tablets, and a higher-performance version running Windows 8 Pro.

When the company announced the impending arrival of the tablet last June, many thought the device would give the iPad, king of tablets, a run for its money. Other analysts argued Microsoft's version wouldn't be a threat to the Apple device.

So, how does the Surface Pro, with its innovative snap-in keyboard, stack up? Early reviews are mixed.

ABC News technology writer Joanna Stern said that while the Surface Pro thicker than a standard tablet, "it doesn't offer the same functionality of a laptop."

"The kickstand and keyboard together allow you to transform the tablet into a clamshell device, but it doesn't sit very well on a lap. It's a balancing act, to say the least," she said. "You have to position the keyboard just right; if you lean back just a bit the whole thing can go toppling over. Good thing the tablet can withstand that drop on the floor!"

A big-name reviewer on All Things Digital agreed, saying the new device is having an identity crisis.

"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," the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg wrote.

The actual computing experience, however, was favorable among bloggers.

"In terms of usability I had no trouble learning the vagaries of Windows 8 on this device or actually enjoying the experience," John Biggs at TechCrunch wrote. "That’s right: I liked Windows 8 on this for the simple reason that the balance between Classic and Touch UIs was easy to understand. This balance doesn’t help Microsoft convince us to use Touch more – you still tend to land in classic mode more often than not – but it does make Windows 8 far more usable."

However, Wagner said he felt the screen resolution was too high for the small device, making it hard to see images or video on the tablet.

"Its screen is too good," Wagner said. "Which is to say, its 1080p resolution is so dense on the 10.6-inch screen that desktop programs seem too small, too cramped. Since you're already going to probably be hunched over your desk and squinting while using this 10.6-inch screen, teeny tiny text isn't much of a help."

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