Microsoft Surface Pro previews reveal more differences with Surface RT

Microsoft didn't have a full exhibit booth at CES 2013, but the company did indicate that it would be holding closed meetings with its partners and even some journalists at the Las Vegas trade show this week. As it turns out, those meetings included some hands-on time with the upcoming Surface Pro tablet which Microsoft plans to launch sometime before the end of January.

ZDNet.com and The Verge have written up their impressions based on a brief amount of time with a pre-production model of the tablet at CES 2013. Besides the fact that the Surface Pro runs Windows 8 Pro versus Windows RT on the ARM-based Surface RT, there are a number of other cosmetic differences between the two tablets.

ZDNet reports that the MicroSD card slot, which is located on the back of the built-in kickstand on the Surface RT tablet, has now been moved to one of the tablet's sides for the Surface Pro. The Verge adds that the kickstand's angle for the Surface Pro has been changed to 26 degrees versus just 22 degrees for the Surface RT. The articles also mention a new ventilation strip that goes around the tablet in order to keep it from heating up. The charging cable for the Surface Pro is reportedly longer as well, and will also add in a port so people can charge up a smartphone at the same time.

Both articles also say that this pre-production version of the Surface Pro uses a third generation Intel Core i5 processor. However, it's still not clear if Microsoft might be able to add in the new version of the Core i5 chip to the tablet that reportedly uses less power, and therefore could improve its battery life. Previously, Microsoft has said that the Surface Pro will have about half the battery life of the Surface RT, which means users could expect to get between four to five hours of power for the Surface Pro.

Once the Surface Pro tablet goes on sale, Microsoft will have a 64 GB version for $899 and a 128 GB version for $999, both without the optional keyboard add-on.

Source: ZDNet and The Verge | Image via Microsoft

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@deadonthefloor: feature wars: back to the 80's with Mhz's, single/dual/quadcores, 3/4G, Wifi etc. etc....... :-\

@greensabath: thanks for the answers.
I do understand the need for choice, but what if only a handful of people use something. Is it still viable to add it to the list as a company?

See... I'm as 'hooked' to the internet as the next guy, but for a tablet, or the scenarios you sketch, I can see a life without the web. At least for a period of time. ;-)

Music on the road: there's still radio. Even your mobile has it. Or take your iPod, or dump some mp3's on the tablet and play it from there. No real need for that web connection....

Navigation: Yes, dumping some turn-by-turn navigation on your mobile from the web can be handy, but what if major detours are in your way and no Internet is there? That could lead to nasty situations.

Nokia Drive for instance (free btw) is a full blown turn-by-turn nav system, no need for the web. I use this extensively, and it works great. I recently did a lot of traveling in Germany, and even with some major detours around some cities, I never had any issues arriving at my destination.
Internet based tutn-by-turn sounds great, but for stuff like this I rather use something less depended from the web. Like TomTom a like devices, or full blown navigation software on my phone.

Tethering: It shouldn't make any difference where your data is coming from, so hooking up a phone to a tablet for internet access should be a simple/legal thing. Especially in a country as big and sometimes sparsely populated as the US. That telco's want to suck you dry is another story.

Where I live WiFi is a dime a dozen, due to the dense population. So I can find a hotspot quite quickly. On the road the same thing. So being without a internet connection/cell tower is a novelty.

Too bad the technology is there to make your live simpler, but is restricted by the same people offering it.

@greensabath:

If using 3/4G for internet access via the telco's is so expensive, isn't there any other way? I still don't get it why you want something on-board that will cost and arm and a leg just to use...
Wifi hotspots are everywhere these days, and tethering is very common too.

GPS might have some use, but for turn-by-turn nav I already use Nokia Drive. I never used Goofle maps for offline navigation after downloading.

thanks for the answers,

rob

I didn't say I would want 3/4G onboard. If they offered it, I would prefer to have a choice between a WiFI only version and a 3/4G version as well. (Kind of how the ipad is right now) Given the high prices tho, I would probably opt for the wifi only version.

In the US, really the only point to have a constant internet connection, is if you are traveling around. If you are using a car, and you needed a constant internet connection, this would be the only way (outside of tethering). If you are traveling by train, this would be cheaper. Planes, you are barred from using outside internet (they force you to pay their rediculous overpriced internet if you absolutely need it)

If you are in stores/restaurants, they may have wifi hotspots that you could use, but alot of places do not.


Also, with tethering, it is 'technically' illegal to do w/o paying an additional fee (generally about $30/month) to your existing smartphone plan. There are ways around this, obviously, but not very easy for a non-tech person to figure out.

As far as Google Maps offline Nav, I was just using that as an example as a sort-of workout to the problem of needing a constant internet connection. (Maybe Nokia drive has the same functionality)

I guess a better example may be streaming Pandora/Spotify, for needing a constant internet connection.

It is a great product, but why would anyone spend so much money on this when you can get a non-touchscreen device with much better specs? Paying that much for JUST the tablet and then having to buy the add-on keyboard is just ridiculous amounts of money.

for the specs it's really not too expensive. The digitizer/pen alone will add some cash to the price. And this will not be for everybody, but I know a lot of people who are very interested in this one, all working in creative position. "Portable Cintiq" I heard someone say.
If basic painting and 3d sculpting is good enough, this will be a small success for MS with their first tablets in years..

Overall, I feel this is a great product, and would like to get this, but the timing of the release basically kills the device.

MS has already hinted (rumored) about Surface 2.0 versions coming out later this year, which, will have upgraded specs in them than what this Surface Pro will have. So for me, I'm just going to wait for them to come out. I'm hoping (as w/ all tech), that Surface 2.0 will be better not just in terms of upgraded specs, but a lower starting price point as well.

I just noticed yesterday that when the charger cable is hooked up to the Surface, I was unable to swap out the microSD card. So I imagine moving the slot was under consideration due to that issue.

Can someone, prob. from the States tell me why do you want a tablet with 3/4G and GPS on there??

I never understood any of that. Is it due to the way telco's work in the States?
No trolling, just really curious as I don't see any use for these features on a tablet.....

rob

The reason to have 3/4G on a tablet is to be able to access the internet using Cell towers. This is a very expensive cost tho, b/c there is basically a monopoly between all cell companies in the US. Not only are you looking at on average a $130 premium just for the cell chip itself, you have to pay anywhere from $25-60 per month for service. The lowest $25 tier is normally for 1GB capped data per month.

GPS is separate. It works no matter if you have internet connect or not to show your location. The only reason to have both GPS/Internet is so you can view internet map services online, while also showing your location w/ the GPS (basically giving you a live version of a Garmin/Tom Tom). Google has partially fixed this w/ Android tablets (I don't know if Bing has the same functionality, someone let me know if so), they allow you to d/l maps from Google Maps in the android app for offline use. So basically, before a trip, you just plan your route while connected to WiFi, then d/l the map route, and it will be available on your device for Turn-by-turn nav while you are driving.

Please stop it with the NEW LOW POWER Core i5.

This is an Intel marketing lie. They use a new SDP (Scenario Design Power) concept instead of the usual TDP measuring.
The real TDP has been very slightly decreased and won't yield notable battery consumption reduction.

I dunno about pricing and all that, as far as if it's priced right or not, but as long as MS pushes them well as far as marketing goes then the surface line in general could be a good seller. Maybe not hotcakes but that's fine. Makes me wonder though, I think we could be in for new versions of both the surface rt and pro when MS is ready to release Windows Blue, or 8.1 etc.

If that's the case I expect the next versions will come with the full 3g/4g connectivity options the current ones lack. Prices will also probably be the same as we have now, though that should drive the prices of the first ones down by $100 each sku.

Awesome, looking to be a great device.

I'm just going to stick with my desperate hope they'll decide to have a 13 or 14" pro as a second generation! Otherwise I'm more interested in the transformer book.

Would certainly be interesting to know the reason for 26 vs 22 degree's, it would be nice if it was consumer feedback from the RT, but not sure if there's really been long enough for that.

Long live Microsoft's hardware division! (Except maybe Xbox, but that's a different story)

Just in the interests of balance and fairness, and to counter all those who are very excited about buying one of these... I couldn't be any less interested and have absolutely no interest in buying one.

I will say however after a few minutes with a friends Windows 8 RT tablet (Asus one.. forget the model name) it does work much better as a tablet OS than a desktop OS - swipe gestures, etc all actually seem to make sense when you're using your finger, not a mouse!

Chicane-UK said,
Just in the interests of balance and fairness, and to counter all those who are very excited about buying one of these... I couldn't be any less interested and have absolutely no interest in buying one.

I can understand you not wanting one, that's cool, you are entitled to your own opinion but it is an interesting device and it could set the stage for the next generation of tablet computing. The i5 processor, pen and 10 point capacitive touch screen cover, Windows 8 pro (NT ) and overall beauty of the device are things to take note of

Maybe they figured the stand was so strong that it would be able to tilt back more without any problem due to extra toque from something pushing it down. Or maybe they wanted you to feel like you were doing more by pushing it in to close, since it now has a further distance to travel when closing it... Or maybe because the Surface Pro is a little heavier, they needed a more solid base to prevent it from tipping over/sliding when you use the touchscreen.


The articles also mention a new ventilation strip that goes around the tablet in order to keep it from heating up.

Microsoft talked a lot about perimeter cooling when they first announced Surface.

I honestly can't wait for the release, I've got an RT already and love it! I'm hoping Microsoft still have a couple of tricks up their sleeve though! 128GB version for me, + 64GB SDXC!

I am fine tethering to my phone, I do not see why I should spend money on a mobile data connection twice really.

So, no new specs were available, this is all known and has been revealed a the announcement back in June. Does not matter much anyway as I am having the cash ready to spend..

paulheu said,
I am fine tethering to my phone, I do not see why I should spend money on a mobile data connection twice really.

So, no new specs were available, this is all known and has been revealed a the announcement back in June. Does not matter much anyway as I am having the cash ready to spend..

What about organizations that purchase these to lease to its employees? If the tablet doesn't have 4G (assuming the company needs it on the tablets like mine does at this moment), the employee can't be expected to add the tablet to their personal wireless plan.

MidTxWRX said,

What about organizations that purchase these to lease to its employees? If the tablet doesn't have 4G (assuming the company needs it on the tablets like mine does at this moment), the employee can't be expected to add the tablet to their personal wireless plan.

Wi-Fi is an acceptable replacement for in-office use, and there's a wide variety of tethering devices offered by *many* cell-phone providers (i.e. the Rogers Stick) which plug in via USB or ethernet and provide 3G/4G data access. Or your company could give out company phones.

Breakthrough said,

Wi-Fi is an acceptable replacement for in-office use, and there's a wide variety of tethering devices offered by *many* cell-phone providers (i.e. the Rogers Stick) which plug in via USB or ethernet and provide 3G/4G data access. Or your company could give out company phones.

It's not the perfect solution for every company. Don't just try to make excuses for the Surface RT or Pro not having 4G available. I have a Surface RT and I love the devices, wish I could afford a Pro. I know they'll release one with 4G eventually, Verizon seems to have been in talks with Microsoft to sell the Surface at their stores... so surely it'll have 4G rather than making people sign up for a new phone plan just to use the tablet when not within Wifi range.

The company I work for is in the construction business. They use iPads out on the field (with 3G) to document service calls, etc.
The less hardware the better. A USB device would get lost or destroyed when out in the field.

MidTxWRX said,

What about organizations that purchase these to lease to its employees? If the tablet doesn't have 4G (assuming the company needs it on the tablets like mine does at this moment), the employee can't be expected to add the tablet to their personal wireless plan.

I don't mean to be critical, but I think most of those organizations would already give those people corporate phones too.

Luke Baldwin said,
Hope 3G or 4G comes on the devices in the Next generation, talking to people seams to be a major reason for not getting a surface

I honestly don't know why that would turn you off, if anything it keeps the price down and improves battery life. If you need a mobile connection and you have smartphone running Android, iOS or WP the you can tether over a USB connection (recommended, doesn't chew your battery) or over WiFi. Furthermore, with the pro at least (Windows RT has a very strong mobile data device class driver that covers the most popular 90% of hardware), you will be able to use any mobile dongle or hotspot device. I don't see why you need to have a mobile connection to a tablet, especially the Surfaces with the NT and Windows compatibility, when there are cheaper and more efficient ways of doing it!

im still going to buy a Surface pro when they are released, I have a WP8 (Lumia 920), just that other people i talk to are complaining about it, and tethering is not an option were i am, i have 1GB per month for $60 AUS. and i use it all with my WP8 device.

"talking to people seams to be a major reason for not getting a surface"

The have these new things now called phones. They can do a lot of thing, take pictures and run a million billion different apps. But one of the lesser know features of phones is that they let you talk to people very far away without having to shout. Some people still shout though.

I'd also say, I would in general suggest either using your phone, or a mobile data router, then you get away with just one mobile data connection to pay for and can use it on multiple devices.

Luke Baldwin said,
im still going to buy a Surface pro when they are released, I have a WP8 (Lumia 920), just that other people i talk to are complaining about it, and tethering is not an option were i am, i have 1GB per month for $60 AUS. and i use it all with my WP8 device.


But in your case it wouldn't matter if its tethered or built in, it would still need a sim (in phone or in device) and a data plan, so the costs of the data plan apply to both tethering or built in mobile connectivity.

ingramator said,

I honestly don't know why that would turn you off, if anything it keeps the price down and improves battery life. If you need a mobile connection and you have smartphone running Android, iOS or WP the you can tether over a USB connection (recommended, doesn't chew your battery) or over WiFi. Furthermore, with the pro at least (Windows RT has a very strong mobile data device class driver that covers the most popular 90% of hardware), you will be able to use any mobile dongle or hotspot device. I don't see why you need to have a mobile connection to a tablet, especially the Surfaces with the NT and Windows compatibility, when there are cheaper and more efficient ways of doing it!

That might be the case... but many organizations will purchase these tablets and expect to be able to add 4G service to them without having to pay for their employee's personal cellphone plan.

Luke Baldwin said,
Hope 3G or 4G comes on the devices in the Next generation, talking to people seams to be a major reason for not getting a surface

You do realize that in most parts of North America, carriers dictate what devices operate on their network. This could easily delay time to market while negotiating with all carriers. Then of course, they'd want to sell the device.....

My boss tethered to his iphone once, after an hour and a half, he was out of juice on his phone. His specs for every notebook since has been for integrated 3G. He -has- to receive/make phone calls, he doesn't -have- to have internet access all the time. His TouchSmart TM2 gets about 4-5 hours while doing 3G.