There are a few key factors that differentiate the Surface Pro from the original Surface: It runs the full version of Windows 8, which means unlike the scaled-down version of Windows 8 for Surface RT, the Windows Pro notebook can run old legacy apps from Windows 7, as well as all the native Windows 8 apps and the new ones you can download from the Windows Store. Surface Pro also comes with a speedier processor, as well as a sharper display resolution and a stylus for enhanced accuracy. With these additions, however, comes a much heftier price tag. While the Surface for Windows RT started at $499, the Surface Pro begins at almost double that price, at $899.
This, of course, begs the question: Is it worth the price? We haven’t had the chance to play with the Surface Pro yet, but a select group of media were lucky enough to get some hands-on time at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Here’s what some critics had to say:
Dana Wollman, Engadget
Surface Pro’s display: “Believe us when we say the difference is appreciable. In a side-by-side comparison with the RT, everything looked a little sharper, a little less pixelated. It's a difference anyone can appreciate, even people who swear they're not display snobs.”
The Surface Pro’s display comes with a resolution of 1,920x1,080, while the Surface for Windows RT’s measures at 1,366x768. Both screens are 10.6 inches in length diagonally.
Same idea as Surface RT: “Other than the resolution, though, the underlying technology is largely the same: This too is a ClearType screen with deep blacks and vibrant colors.”
Hardware v. Surface RT: “As for the rest of the hardware, this is and is not like the Surface RT we reviewed last fall. It has the same magnesium VaporMg casing, as well as the same kickstand, neat clicking sound and all. It's also compatible with the same Touch and Type Covers as the Surface RT. Still, there's no getting around the fact that this thing is bulkier than its little brother: 13.5mm thick and about two pounds, compared with 9.4mm and around 1.5 pounds for the RT.”
While this may sound like a heavyweight device, Microsoft has packed its Surface Pro with more horsepower than its predecessor. The Windows 8 device comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, two fans and a 42.5W battery. The previous Surface, in contrast, features a Tegra 3 chip and a 31Wh battery.
Tom Warren, The Verge
Surface Pro. v. Surface RT: "If you compared the RT and Pro side-by-side, it's difficult to tell the difference at first glance. These devices are clearly family members, and Microsoft has made sure they match in ways that allow you to use the same cover on either tablet.”
Surface Pro’s display: “I say it's gorgeous, because this display is unprecedented on this type of device. Text reproduction and colors were spot on, and viewing angles were great for tablet use.”
Weight and design: “Surface Pro also weights 0.5 lbs. more. I was expecting to be disappointed by the thickness and weight combo, but Microsoft has made this really comfortable to use. The Pro feels well-weighted, and the pen doesn't get in the way during two-handed use. I tried holding it with one hand, and it wasn't particularly comfortable, but the weight wasn't as big of a problem as I had previously considered.”
Surface Pro’s battery: “That's solid performance compared to the 8 hours you can expect from the Surface RT, but it's not very good for a tablet. And Microsoft has done a lot of work in Windows RT to optimize that OS for battery life.”
The Surface Pro is estimated to feature about five hours of battery life, although this won’t be confirmed until official review units begin to ship. Microsoft caused quite a commotion when it admitted that the Surface Pro would only retain half the battery life of the original Surface months ago.
Performance and speed: “Performance was equally as impressive as the display, and the Intel Core i5 processor is the perfect combination for Windows 8. Opening up multiple apps is super fast, and, despite its tablet-like appearance, this is a full-power Windows PC. It's a great notebook computer that beats out the competition in a number of ways, but it's also still all about compromise.”
Editors’ Take, CNET
Surface Pro v. Surface RT: “The Surface Pro is the more significant product, because it makes no computing compromises: It's the dream of a tablet as your PC, while the original Surface felt more like an iPad competitor.”
Surface Pro’s design: “However, in my time with the Surface, it all worked exactly as advertised, and with an extremely elegant, bordering on beautiful, sense of design. The industrial magnesium chassis of the Surface Pro feels solid but not too heavy to hold in one hand.”
Surface Pro’s display: “The 1080p IPS 10.6-inch display is one of the best I've ever seen on a small Windows computer. Even better, capacitive multitouch felt buttery-smooth. That's the magic that made the iPhone and iPad so fun to use, and the Surface Pro, in painting programs and a few other apps I tried, felt comfortable to navigate.”
Hopefully this paints a robust picture for those considering purchasing a Surface Pro tablet, but we’ll get a better feel for the tablet once it launches. Check out Microsoft’s take on the Surface Pro in the video below.