U.S. tech writers have given Microsoft’s new Surface tablet-laptop hybrid largely negative reviews, casting a shadow over the software group’s hopes to take a bite out of sales of Apple’s iPad and MacBook Air.
The latest Surface runs on an Intel chip and features the full Windows 8 Pro operating system, which Microsoft hopes will make the device attractive to people who want to produce as well as consume material.
It also hopes to appeal to businesses that want to give employees lightweight, mobile machines that fit easily into their technology and security infrastructure.
The “Surface with Windows 8 Pro,” as it is officially called, is available from Saturday. Windows co-chief Tami Reller said earlier this week it is a key part of revving up interest in Windows 8, launched last October but which has not gripped consumers’ imaginations.
The Surface Pro is thicker, heavier and several hundred dollars more expensive than the first Surface RT, which runs on an ARM Holdings-designed chip and is not compatible with old Microsoft programs.
Available in 64- and 128-gigabyte versions, both with Wi-Fi-only connectivity, the Surface Pro starts at $899, excluding a $120-plus keyboard. That is $200 more expensive than a comparable iPad and closer in price to the 64-GB MacBook Air laptop at $999.
Microsoft has said the device is the first to bring a full operating system to the tablet format without compromising quality. But reviewers found the device uncomfortably stranded between a tablet and a PC, with many compromises.
“It ran all the software I threw at it — both the new type and the old desktop type — speedily and well,” wrote Walt Mossberg on the All Things D tech blog.
“But the Pro has some significant downsides, especially as a tablet … It’s too hefty and costly and power-hungry to best the leading tablet, Apple’s full-size iPad. It is also too difficult to use in your lap. It’s something of a tweener — a compromised tablet and a compromised laptop.”
Mossberg said the Surface lasted less than four hours on his standard battery test, half the performance of an iPad. He also expressed concerns about the usable memory on the 64-GB version.
Not As Good
“The Pro is definitely snappier and more ‘performant’ (to use a bit of Microspeak),” wrote Mary Jo Foley on the ZDNet tech blog.
However, she added: “I keep scratching my head over who Microsoft expects to buy the Surface Pro. It’s not as good of a tablet, in terms of weight/battery life, as the Surface RT is. But it’s also not as good of a Windows 8 PC as other OEM-produced devices, coming in at lower price points with better battery life and other specs.”
Steve Kovach, writing for Business Insider, praised the specifications on the new Surface, but not the experience as a whole.
“The Surface Pro has some impressive hardware specs for such a unique form factor. It can go toe-to-toe with any other thin and light laptop,” he wrote…
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