Microsoft Surface Pro Reviewed – Think Of It As A Compact Ultrabook, Not A Tablet

Forbes’ Jason Evangelho says Microsoft’s Surface Pro has risen to the challenge of everything he’s thrown at it: audio and video editing, writing, entertainment, and even some hardcore gaming, but he contends that it’s not a tablet, even though the form factor suggests otherwise. With an Intel Core i5 3317U and Intel HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM, and an array of ports like USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort, the Surface Pro has the guts of an ultrabook, and further distances itself from the tablet market by running on Windows 8 Pro, meaning years of legacy Windows software are supported.

Evangelho notes that the Surface’s Micron Solid State Drive (64GB or 128GB) also outperforms the NAND flash storage inside most tablets by a wide margin; making it more comparable to, say, a MacBook Air than an iPad or Nexus 10.

At 1920 x 1080 the 10.6-inch Surface Pro screen has a pixel density of 208ppi – a notch higher than Dell’s XPS 12 and significantly sharper than the ThinkPad Yoga 11’s 135ppi, and calibrated perfectly with excellent color balance and pure whites. It may not boast the Retina pedigree of an iPad 4, but Evangelho says its an exceptional display, and thinks the Surface Pro in general is a prime example of synergy among well-chosen components. Intel’s Core i5, HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM and the snappy SSD all cooperate to deliver surprising AAA gaming performance – yet another reason this machine sits firmly in the realm of ultrabook and not tablet.

Evangelho also praises Microsoft’s Wedge Touch Mouse, which with gesture support baked in he considers a must-have.

However, battery performance, he says, is an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise exceptional piece of hardware, but fortunately Intel’s upcoming Haswell chip brings significant gains to battery life in tablets and ultrabooks.

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