Let’s just cut to the chase: I love it! I would have to call it the best general laptop I’ve had. With touch, the pen, and running Visual Studio in a two pound package, there’s a whole lot to like and its crapware free! Normally with a new Windows machine I have to spend two hours removing crap or reinstalling the OS so I almost didn’t know what to do after taking the Surface Pro out of the box. While I won’t replace my MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM running many virtual machines with huge SSDs, the Surface Pro is more than adequate for a major chunk of my development needs. Obviously, it will handle most normal computing usage magnificently.
One wonderful surprise I didn’t expect is how good the Surface Pro handles multiple resolutions. As I’m approaching the grey hair stage, sometimes seeing small screen resolutions without the assistance of reading glasses is a little hard. The default resolution of 1920 x 1080 with 150% DPI is decent, but dropping the resolution to any larger size looked great, filled all pixels, and only started looking stretched at 1024 x 768. Sure all you young kids are laughing right now but you’ll appreciate the great screen too.
Today I’ve done all my emails and this blog post on the Surface Pro so I could try out both the Touch Cover and Type Cover. Given that I can barely type on a regular keyboard, I was very happy with the Type Cover and would give it a good rating. The Touch Cover was OK, but for me I found that I was pressing to hard, expecting the key travel I guess, and my hands felt it after 30 minutes or so. With both covers I found the track pad to be subpar because it was too easy to brush it with your thumb and fling the cursor to random spots on the screen. I’m willing to bet that the next versions of the covers will be better in this regard.
As a long time Tablet PC pen aficionado, the Surface Pro pen input is superb. Fast, fluid, and the Windows 8 handwriting recognition has yet to get anything wrong. I thought Windows 7 was the gold standard of handwriting, but Windows 8 is noticeably better. Several Surface Pro reviewers have pointed out the external pen docking using the magnetic power port isn’t the best place to store a pen. When I handed my wife her Surface Pro (yes, we are a two Surface Pro family), she took one look at the pen dangling off the side and said, “I’m going to lose that pen the first time I put this in my bag.” Fortunately, I had two Cross tablet pens, which are more substantial and made of metal, which means harder to lose, so we are both using those instead.
When I looked around the house, I realized that I must have a tablet fetish as I’ve got the Surface Pro (2 lbs.), an Acer W501 (1.4 lbs.), an ASUS EP121 (2.56 lbs.), and an iPad 2 (1.5 lbs.). That was a unique opportunity to see how all these devices stack up head to head as pure tablets. That meant I needed to test each with the same application to make it fair and given that I love Wordament that was no problem. The idea was that I would hold the device with my left hand and furiously swipe words with my right as the test. No surprise, the ASUS was too heavy, with the Acer and the iPad being just right. Interestingly, the Surface Pro was just slightly on the heavy side. That extra half pound makes a difference in one handed usage. Granted the Surface Pro gives me full Outlook, Visual Studio and a full laptop experience so the weight is totally understandable and I’m thrilled with the tradeoff.
With 24 blissful hours under my belt with the Surface Pro, I’m very much looking forward to using it more and seeing how my life changes now that I’ve got a super notebook. Walking into a meeting today I loved just carrying a slim, light, and nearly perfect computer. You really need to go check out the Surface Pro. For nearly everyone, it’s the only computer you’ll need.