Someone has made a Surface Pro workstation setup with four PC monitors

In March, Panos Panay, the general manager of Microsoft's Surface tablet division, told a group at a company summit meeting that while the Surface RT is a tablet, the Surface Pro is in fact a real PC. Now a cunning techie has proven Microsoft's point by completely replacing his huge desktop PC for the much more diminutive Surface Pro as his personal workstation.

Keith Elder, who in his day job works as the Director of Software Engineering at Quicken Loans, posted proof of his project on his website this week. The small Surface Pro is connected to four large PC monitors (technically there's five monitors, if you include the Surface Pro screen itself).

So how did Elder do it? He connected the Surface Pro's USB 3.0 port to a $95 Plugable USB 3.0 docking station. Then he connected in a number of Plugable UGA-3000 video adapters to the docking station and hey presto; a four monitor workstation running off a 10.6 inch touchscreen PC.

Elder seems to be pretty happy with the situation, stating:

The Surface Pro is just the tip of the iceberg and I don’t see me buying a desktop ever again. If I can’t take whatever I buy with me it is useless in today’s world as far as I’m concerned.

In fact, he says that the upcoming release of Windows 8.1, combined with Ultrabooks with new power saving Intel processors will make things even better for people like him who want the power of a desktop PC with the portability of a notebook or tablet.

Source: Keith Elder | Image via Keith Elder

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Ubi taking orders on software that turns walls into touchscreens via Kinect

Next Story

Rumor: Microsoft to launch 'Blake's 7' TV series revival for Xbox Live

97 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Didn't realize this is all that was needed to make the front page news nowadays. Not being cynical--good on you, Keith.

I've been doing the same with mine for months now, with the same USB dock and three of the same USB video adapters, for a total of 4 displays.

Then instead of USB video, I started using the Pro's own VGA adapter cable, and the dock's built-in VGA adapter. I could've gotten away with buying only one VGA adapter instead of 3. I don't have the room on my desk for it, but if I did, with these two spares, I could just as easily run a total of 6 monitors.

I also have 5.1 audio (using the old USB X-Fi from Creative Labs), an external BluRay burner, mouse, keyboard, printers, scanner etc like any other PC.

It replaces the now-retired 8-year old Athlon XP machine I was previously using. The Pro has the extra benefit of not warming up my home office. And I've yet to find a laptop that runs this quietly, and draws this little power.

I'm a software developer, and spend my days using remote desktop to connect to virtual machines running elsewhere (including the office, over VPN, in another city). Those complaining about the CPU speed--it's not relevant for me. It's faster than the Athlon it's replacing, and even that was plenty fast. In fact I'd wager that if the Surface RT had USB3 instead of USB2 (and had the proper drivers), it could fill the role just as easily, given how I use it.

I appreciate the fact that Keith has followed up with additional videos and commentary for all those asking questions. It really helps get the information out there as to what is possible. Windows 8 is actually fairly solid (with obvious quirks), and Windows 8.1 will really help complete the platform - I think so anyways.

This is nothing new, I used my own Surface Pro as a workstation for a few days and it worked out well (USB 3.0 dock with 2 x 24" monitors). Blows me away when people are surprised to see this.

Question about using the 3.0 dock to two monitors, does the image on the displays look as good as when you hook up one monitor to the display port on the surface? I found that the image quality was way way better using the display port, than when I attached the surface pro to a 3.0 usb dock that had dvi interface. For one, on the display connected to the 3.0 dock, I could not calibrate the gamma for example. I could for the display off the display port. You see the same?

puma1 said,
Question about using the 3.0 dock to two monitors, does the image on the displays look as good as when you hook up one monitor to the display port on the surface? I found that the image quality was way way better using the display port, than when I attached the surface pro to a 3.0 usb dock that had dvi interface. For one, on the display connected to the 3.0 dock, I could not calibrate the gamma for example. I could for the display off the display port. You see the same?

The display port output I don't want to say wasn't as good, but I had different results depending on the monitor I was hooking it up to. I believe I was able to adjust gamma, etc. because I was using DisplayLink software on the dock being used.

Unfortunately there is little interest for Windows 8 and its clunky interface that is hard to learn. Also storage can become a problem. We need a storage revolution in technology.

danielmac123 said,
Unfortunately there is little interest for Windows 8 and its clunky interface that is hard to learn. Also storage can become a problem. We need a storage revolution in technology.

Storage isn't that much of a problem with the Surface Pro. This has been beat to death, you can expand the storage using a micro SD card.

danielmac123 said,
Unfortunately there is little interest for Windows 8 and its clunky interface that is hard to learn.

Speak for yourself...

I liked this part.

"people like him who want the power of a desktop PC with the portability of a notebook or tablet."

He doesn't realize that even the best notebook or tablet wouldn't even be anywhere near 50% that of a half decent PC...

He realizes that desktop power means a trade off of portability. I think he's been in the PC industry long enough to know the differences. Especially since he use to run a PC hardware company and built many computers over the years. But thanks for the speculation.

Albert said,
how pathetic. i guess he's never heard of airplay.

Yeah, cause he wants to use a feature of one OS connected to a single proprietary device. Vs a few USB vga adapters that work with how many operating systems and devices? Streaming video to a device, last I checked, was not invented by Apple.. right?

bilemke said,

Yeah, cause he wants to use a feature of one OS connected to a single proprietary device. Vs a few USB vga adapters that work with how many operating systems and devices? Streaming video to a device, last I checked, was not invented by Apple.. right?

don't be absurd. now that's a stupid question. which, by the way, you appeared to have answered admiringly. lol.

Albert said,
how pathetic. i guess he's never heard of airplay.

Ya, this was not the point, and AirPlay is not the equivalent. MiraCast or DLNA would be the wireless equivalent of AirPlay.

Mobius Enigma said,

Ya, this was not the point, and AirPlay is not the equivalent. MiraCast or DLNA would be the wireless equivalent of AirPlay.

really? it comes with the o.s. and is wireless as added bonus. how is that 'not the point'?

Albert said,
really? it comes with the o.s. and is wireless as added bonus. how is that 'not the point'?

AirPlay requires an AirPlay capable reciever then you're what, mirroring your pad display to the display attached to the AirPlay reciever. So you've spent how much to mirror on a bigger screen?

This is essentially 5 discrete displays capable of displaying different applications at the same time, improving productivity.

Comparing AirPlay to a multi-mon setup is rediculous.

I bet heaps of people have done this with their Surface Pro or other full Windows 8 tablet. It's one of the benefits of having a tablet that runs full Windows 8...

Hmm. This is a bit of a stretch for front page news. Yes, Surface Pro is a tablet and yes it is a PC so it can hook up lots of USB video adapters like any other Windows PC could stationary at a desk. Sure, can unhook one cable and pick it up and walk away with a tablet. So I guess it is a bit of a statement, but how many other people out there have hooked up 3 or 4 monitors to their Surface Pro? It can do 2 natively, adding 2 USB video adapters is not much.

Love teh comment about how it can't stream to an Apple TV. Nothing like carrying an Apple TV around everywhere you want to do presentation from an iPad vs a full Mac Book or say a Windows notebook right? In that case, I will stream video with one of many programs from my laptop or Surface Pro and hull around a Roku or Xbox or something that can open the stream source.

"If I can't take whatever I buy with me it is useless in today's world as far as I'm concerned."

So sayeth some overpaid business executive who flits around the country/world first class all the damn time schmoozing with other overpaid execs. You can pry my desktop and my mouse from my cold, dead fingers.

So sayeth some 15 year old punk hiding behind a keyboard who's using momma's and daddy's computer and Internet to post comments about a guy he doesn't know. Wait, I'm doing what you did, crap.

I don't think anyone wants to pry anything off you or gives a **** what your using in relation to a desktop or a laptop. This isn't a desktop vs laptop war jesus christ.

MikadoWu said,
So is there a External Solution that can give me enough performance to run SWTOR or WOW on my Surface?

If surface pro had thunderbolt, then yes.

Hopefully surface pro 2 will have tb port.

Don't forget we have micro-display port..Right now I'm running Ultra Wide lcd screen at full resolution Looks great.. And yes WOW is very much playable. Just killed oon with little lag.

You can also chain lcd screens uising the displayport connector.. Why would you ever waste your USB 3 Bandwidth!

MikadoWu said,
So is there a External Solution that can give me enough performance to run SWTOR or WOW on my Surface?

SWTOR and WOW both work just fine on the Surface Pro, and it has an external monitor connector if you want bigger screen action.

(With SWTOR and the HD4000 GPU, if you tell SWTOR it is running under XP-compatibility tab, the game will let the OS provide additional VRAM to the game, and it goes from playable on minimal specs to very playable of medium specs. You can look this up on the SWTOR forums.)

“want the power of a desktop PC with the portability of a notebook or tablet”

I genuinely hate that phrase… because you're not getting the performance of a desktop PC unless you're comparing an anemic i5 ULV to a standard desktop i3 or something, let alone ignoring the power of a dedicated graphics card as well.
Apples to apples, desktops will always have the power.

And I'm not ultrabook/tablet hater.. I love them. I just know and accept they don't compare to desktops!

Anyway, it's still a cool thing this guy has done - I might do something similar for my girlfriend

I think the point is, it has the ability to do most desktop tasks that one would be doing without a dedicated graphics card, it doesn't mean that it is just as powerful as a desktop. This guy is really centering on the idea of business not gaming. gaming is the only thing that really still needs a desktop anymore.

For many people, the "power of a desktop PC" in modern terms well-exceeds what they'll use it for. For work-related duties that require high mobility, the Pro can replace many desktop solutions (provided that it docks to a keyboard and external display).

Oh I get the point.. understand that for most people, a poor underpowered i5 is more than adequate, but again, the terminology is wrong. Desktop performance is, funnily enough, only possible on a desktop. They need another way to rephrase it because it gets people thinking that you can get the same performance from a Surface Pro that you can from the same specced machine in a desktop build.
It reminds me of the amazing comments I've seen online from people who think ARM chips are close in performance to Intel's big Core series.

ZipZapRap said,
“want the power of a desktop PC with the portability of a notebook or tablet”

I genuinely hate that phrase… because you're not getting the performance of a desktop PC unless you're comparing an anemic i5 ULV to a standard desktop i3 or something, let alone ignoring the power of a dedicated graphics card as well.
Apples to apples, desktops will always have the power.

And I'm not ultrabook/tablet hater.. I love them. I just know and accept they don't compare to desktops!

Anyway, it's still a cool thing this guy has done - I might do something similar for my girlfriend

Anemic?

It is faster (especially per core) than ANY AMD Desktop CPU.

The truth is out there: Intel Core i5-3317U

So, yes it is Desktop 'level' performance.

Mobius Enigma said,

Anemic?

It is faster (especially per core) than ANY AMD Desktop CPU.

The truth is out there: Intel Core i5-3317U

So, yes it is Desktop 'level' performance.


This is joke right? AMD FX cpus are way faster than this underpowered crap. And HD4000 is nowhere near 'desktop performance', it's just good for Angry Birds.

yowanvista said,

This is joke right? AMD FX cpus are way faster than this underpowered crap. And HD4000 is nowhere near 'desktop performance', it's just good for Angry Birds.
Really? Because the 2012 Macbook Air has the same GPU and I am sure it can do more than Angry Birds. That GPU supports a resolution up to 2560x1600 on an external monitor.

But continue being foolish saying this can;t compete with a desktop. It can. It can compete with the same desktop or laptop configured with the same hardware.

Please shut up as you ave no idea what ur talking about.

The only difference between the 15 desktop versions and the ULV means it uses less voltage so it sucks less battery. However as with any CPU, when you need more power it will pull more voltage if it is plugged into a socket. Or even on the battery except it will drain quicker.

TechieXP said,
Really? Because the 2012 Macbook Air has the same GPU and I am sure it can do more than Angry Birds. That GPU supports a resolution up to 2560x1600 on an external monitor.

But continue being foolish saying this can;t compete with a desktop. It can. It can compete with the same desktop or laptop configured with the same hardware.

Please shut up as you ave no idea what ur talking about.

The only difference between the 15 desktop versions and the ULV means it uses less voltage so it sucks less battery. However as with any CPU, when you need more power it will pull more voltage if it is plugged into a socket. Or even on the battery except it will drain quicker.


My point still stands, any current high end AMD processor clearly beats the hell out of this POS, compromising performance for power usage is just plain silly. HD4000 is considered to be low end, just because it can handle high resolution doesn't mean that it can actually run any game maxed out at that resolution, or even any kind of intensive 3D apps. You should probably reread the part in the article where it says ''the power of a desktop PC with the portability of a notebook or tablet.' Clearly you can't figure out that a PC in same price range sports way better hardware and especially a dedicated graphics card with more processing power, so your point is moot.

yowanvista said,

My point still stands, any current high end AMD processor clearly beats the hell out of this POS, compromising performance for power usage is just plain silly. HD4000 is considered to be low end, just because it can handle high resolution doesn't mean that it can actually run any game maxed out at that resolution, or even any kind of intensive 3D apps. You should probably reread the part in the article where it says ''the power of a desktop PC with the portability of a notebook or tablet.' Clearly you can't figure out that a PC in same price range sports way better hardware and especially a dedicated graphics card with more processing power, so your point is moot.

Intel's Ivy Bridge GPU's are not low end. You must be high. The HD4000 I guess would be pretty close to using an AMD 5xxx series GPU. It is plenty for the applications being used on the Surface Pro.

It is a mid-ranged GPU. It is not low end. You think APple would put a low end GPU in the Mac Air? I mean really?

Its not about gaming. On many desktops unless you have a lot of horsepower you aren't going to do well at full resolutions. It depends on your setup. The fact you are even mention HD gaming for a device like shows you dont even understand it purpose. However, it would run any game the exact same way as a laptop with the exact same hardware. The only advantage a desktop would have is dedicated GPU RAM vs using shared RAM and having more of it at 2GB when this tablet has to share the 2GB of system RAM.

A PC in the same price range? I am not trying to compare it to a desktop PC in the same price range. I can however compare it to a laptop in the same price range.

This is a FULL PC...it is simply in a smaller package, just like a laptop is a pc in a smaller package. ULV chips simply have less voltage. Less voltage doesn't mean less power, it simply means the chip will be slightly slower. Slow doesn't mean weak.

It is an Ivy Bridge platform, it will do exactly what any other laptop with this config will do. Intel HD graphics weren't meant for excessive gaming which is why your claim is so lame. If you need a gaming rig, than no laptop except gaming ones will compete with a desktop.

Its YOU who doesn't understand what YOU are saying. Not me. I know exactly what you are saying. The only true bottleneck of the Surface is low RAM. However with 4GB it will be just as fast an efficient as an equally configured laptop or desktop.

TechieXP said,

Intel's Ivy Bridge GPU's are not low end. You must be high. The HD4000 I guess would be pretty close to using an AMD 5xxx series GPU. It is plenty for the applications being used on the Surface Pro.

It is a mid-ranged GPU. It is not low end. You think APple would put a low end GPU in the Mac Air? I mean really?

Its not about gaming. On many desktops unless you have a lot of horsepower you aren't going to do well at full resolutions. It depends on your setup. The fact you are even mention HD gaming for a device like shows you dont even understand it purpose. However, it would run any game the exact same way as a laptop with the exact same hardware. The only advantage a desktop would have is dedicated GPU RAM vs using shared RAM and having more of it at 2GB when this tablet has to share the 2GB of system RAM.

A PC in the same price range? I am not trying to compare it to a desktop PC in the same price range. I can however compare it to a laptop in the same price range.

This is a FULL PC...it is simply in a smaller package, just like a laptop is a pc in a smaller package. ULV chips simply have less voltage. Less voltage doesn't mean less power, it simply means the chip will be slightly slower. Slow doesn't mean weak.

It is an Ivy Bridge platform, it will do exactly what any other laptop with this config will do. Intel HD graphics weren't meant for excessive gaming which is why your claim is so lame. If you need a gaming rig, than no laptop except gaming ones will compete with a desktop.

Its YOU who doesn't understand what YOU are saying. Not me. I know exactly what you are saying. The only true bottleneck of the Surface is low RAM. However with 4GB it will be just as fast an efficient as an equally configured laptop or desktop.

At present a AMD 7xxx series CPU is the highend on the consumer level. Comparing such to an Intel Integrated GPU to a dedicated GPU is already lame in the first place. This is a tablet which makes you whole point moot.

yowanvista said,

This is joke right? AMD FX cpus are way faster than this underpowered crap. And HD4000 is nowhere near 'desktop performance', it's just good for Angry Birds.

I said it was a desktop class CPU. PERIOD.

As for how the HD 4000 compares to even AMD integrated FX series, you would be surprised how close the GPU is, and when coupled with the faster CPU sometimes offsets the AMD GPU performance advantage.

Also note, a lot of desktops ship with HD 4000 as their GPU, and do not have the option of adding in a discrete video card.

There are people that test things. I will once again assert...

The i5 in the Surface Pro, per core is faster than ANY AMD Desktop CPU. PERIOD.

RT will eventually be able to do this as well (it might even be possible to do it now if you had a higher end specs. The Surface RT in doesn't yet obviously, but future models i'm sure will eventually.

HoochieMamma said,
Nothing special at all. If this was done with a Surface RT then yeah, good stuff I tip my hat to you. But not a full windows OS device.

You can do two monitors on the Surface RT.

As for USB monitors, Microsoft just needs to provide a driver. However, shoving this many pixels around is a bit touch for the ARM processor.

The OS is capable of doing this though, which is the point.

HoochieMamma said,
Nothing special at all. If this was done with a Surface RT then yeah, good stuff I tip my hat to you. But not a full windows OS device.
Why would you need it on an RT tablet? Its useless even on an iPad? What good is it on an RT device that can only do 2 apps on the screen at the same time? What good is it on iPad which allows one app on the screen at one time?
It would however be great for a Galaxy Note device which allows several apps on the screen at one time.

TechieXP said,
Why would you need it on an RT tablet? Its useless even on an iPad? What good is it on an RT device that can only do 2 apps on the screen at the same time? What good is it on iPad which allows one app on the screen at one time?
It would however be great for a Galaxy Note device which allows several apps on the screen at one time.

RT can do more than 2 apps on the screen as you remember it still has the desktop UI for office and integrated Apps.

Also 8.1 opens up the Modern UI to support more than 2 Apps.

(Even if you just have several IE 'Desktop version' Windows open on several Monitors, there could be an argument that RT offer more functionality.

RT also has the full NT scheduler, in contrast to the multi-tasking features of the Android Galaxy Note that isn't fully using the Linux scheduler.

What i don't get is why a surface pro and not some laptop thats way more powerful for the same price, its still portable and would do a better job .

Anyway i bet all he uses this for is browsing the net to fap over girls on facebook.

Connecting 4 monitors to a surface pro is about as good of an idea as having 4 monitors imo (especially when he is not even using seamless monitors and the whole thing looks bodged and ****ty like this).

I bet this is the sort of guy that used to own like 3 PDA's, a few pagers and a mini disc player a few years ago.

This is proof of concept. And his goal is multitasking, not seamless set up. Also if the goal is an ultimate form of functionality. This is significantly better then a laptop. A tablet that has all the power of a laptop has much more functionality then just a laptop. So no a laptop wouldn't necessarily do a better job.

MrAnalysis said,
What i don't get is why a surface pro and not some laptop thats way more powerful for the same price, its still portable and would do a better job .

Anyway i bet all he uses this for is browsing the net to fap over girls on facebook.

Connecting 4 monitors to a surface pro is about as good of an idea as having 4 monitors imo (especially when he is not even using seamless monitors and the whole thing looks bodged and ****ty like this).

I bet this is the sort of guy that used to own like 3 PDA's, a few pagers and a mini disc player a few years ago.


Because surface pro is a tablet not laptop and also its arguably high end windows tablet

MrAnalysis said,
What i don't get is why a surface pro and not some laptop thats way more powerful for the same price, its still portable and would do a better job .
Because a 2lb ultrabook with an i5, 4GB RAM, at least a 128GB SSD, a touch screen with stylus support (and the stylus), an SD card reader, USB3 ports, displayport out, and costs USD $1000 or less is pretty hard to find - in fact, I'm not sure one exists today that meets all of those requirements. You can find some that are 2.8lbs and up that match in specs, but they're slightly more expensive and lack the SSD. You can find some that are over 3lbs with a touch screen and an SSD, but those are usually over $1300. There are devices that cost less, but they don't match on features or weight, so you basically have a laptop disguised as an ultrabook because it (barely) meets the relatively loose requirements to be called one.

For some folks (myself included), portability, battery life, and expandability is more important than raw speed or specs. As I said, that 3lb ultrabook (or more likely, ~4lb laptop) can get heavy in your bag after dragging it across the country or the world. The ~1.9lb Surface Pro isn't as large or bulky and can be used easily on the tray from the back of a plane seat when the person in front of you decides it's time for a nap as you're trying to work.... yes, that matters. In fact, I use a Surface RT as my daily driver, and at 1.5lbs it's almost unnoticeable unless I hold it for long periods of time without resting my arms (which, I don't do).

I understand there are a lot of people who don't travel and a desktop or larger laptop or ultrabook is fine for them, and for those folks I say good for you - continue to use laptops or ultrabooks, because that's what you want or need. However, there are a number of us who travel with our devices regularly (even if that's just an hour or so on the train to or from the office) who would prefer not to have to use multiple devices during our day to day. As I mentioned previously, I have a Surface RT that allows me to do *almost* everything I need to do, and I RDP into a remote machine to run the 2 x86 apps that haven't been ported over to modern apps yet (they're coming, apparently, given some time, says my employer). I see things shrinking and converging even further, with the "phablets" of today and the smaller tablets becoming one around the 7" or so mark, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a merger of the phone and small tablet space within the next 10 or so years as battery tech improves. I, and many, many like me (you'd be surprised how many of us there are) would *love* to own a 7" device that could take calls, behave like a tablet, and be able to be used like a desktop plugged into a docking station, all running a mobile desktop OS like Windows 8.x. Honestly, most of the time I have my Surface out, it's just to take notes or present a slideshow, and I use it with a monitor at my desk when I'm doing "real work".

So, yes, a laptop with amazing specs would always be preferable to one without, but only if all other things are equal (or, in reality, very close to equal, including price and weight). If, however, I have to pay more in price and battery life for that experience, and also have to use a device that causes my back and shoulders to hurt (aka my last HP laptop - great for running VMs, not so great for my health), it is not as great as a device anymore.

Edited by cluberti, Aug 15 2013, 2:38am :

MrAnalysis said,
Connecting 4 monitors to a surface pro is about as good of an idea as having 4 monitors imo (especially when he is not even using seamless monitors and the whole thing looks bodged and ****ty like this).
It's unfortunate so many people don't get the productivity increase of more monitors. I ran with 2 monitors from 1998 to 2003, 3 monitors from 2003 to 2009, and 4 since. It's a dream if you use multiple applications to be productive. If all you do is watch videos and play angry birds then yes, it's a waste. But it's hardly a bad idea at all these days with the price of monitors.

MrAnalysis said,

Anyway i bet all he uses this for is browsing the net to fap over girls on facebook.

Notice the first line, reading, "Keith Elder, who in his day job works as the Director of Software Engineering at Quicken Loans"?

Tangmeister said,

Notice the first line, reading, "Keith Elder, who in his day job works as the Director of Software Engineering at Quicken Loans"?

Needs more monitors to see how many people are being fleeced in real time?

MrAnalysis said,
Anyway i bet all he uses this for is browsing the net to fap over girls on facebook.

What you've done there is wrongly assume everyone is as childish and as lonely as you are.

What's amazing? All he did was hookup USB video cards to a laptop... You can do that to any laptop with USB ports, there is absolutely nothing new nor amazing about this nor anything relevant to a surface pro being unique.

Then do it with an iPad or Android tablet. While you do that pop open some AutoCAD, Office, and the Adobe Suite. Oh wait, that's right, that will never happen. It's not a laptop, it's a tablet in every way due to it's form factor.

wingliston said,
I dont know any other tablet thats not a hybrid that can run a full OS and connect 4 monitors at once.

What part of USB video extender don't you understand? Anything running windows no matter what form factor will do this. Nothing special at all. Try again John

n_K said,
What's amazing? All he did was hookup USB video cards to a laptop... You can do that to any laptop with USB ports, there is absolutely nothing new nor amazing about this nor anything relevant to a surface pro being unique.

Surface pro is not laptop its a tablet, what he meant was windows tablets are the future

HoochieMamma said,

What part of USB video extender don't you understand? Anything running windows no matter what form factor will do this. Nothing special at all. Try again John

Ok, do those work on Android tablets and iPads? no? oh, ok then.

WinMunkee said,

Ok, do those work on Android tablets and iPads? no? oh, ok then.

Is a Surface *PRO* the same as a iPad/Android? NO! It's a full windows OS. Why are you people not understanding this? Of course it can do it, just like anything with Windows and a USB port, Christ.

HoochieMamma said,

Is a Surface *PRO* the same as a iPad/Android? NO! It's a full windows OS. Why are you people not understanding this? Of course it can do it, just like anything with Windows and a USB port, Christ.

Ok, what about the fact that it's a tablet?

Ya know what? You're right! My iPad can't do that, only it can wirelessly transmit to an apple tv hooked up to a very HD monitor or TV and stream all content. Much handier for someone on the go as this guy claims. As far as getting work done? Just hook a monitor to your iPad. I can't imagine how crappy 5 monitors on a surface pro is without a powerful graphics card to actually be able to utilize that kind of workspace.

8.1 supports Miracast natively, which should work on the Surface Pro at RTM (it works in the preview). It should also not be limited to only working with Apple products as well, which will be nice for most folks who buy things that are compliant with the standard. Hopefully they'll adopt it, but since it competes with AirPlay I guess it's anyone's guess.

As to crappy performance, I drive 2 monitors (not including the tablet) with a USB2 plugable unit, and it seems to work without any issues for most things. I'm not playing any hardcore games (although the occasional game does get played), but movies and standard use cases don't give it any trouble beyond the initial sync on the device waking up or powering on.

Given a USB3 port should be capable of driving 2 monitors at 1920x1200 on it's own, a USB3 docking station with the USB3 adapters the person in the story used could theoretically drive 6 - 8 monitors attached to the docking station via the adapters, as long as the person didn't try to do anything bandwidth intensive on more than one or two monitors at any one time. 4 monitors would be much less stress on the video chipset and the USB3 bus, and would probably work pretty close to natively attached.

Edited by cluberti, Aug 15 2013, 1:28am :

WinMunkee said,

Ok, what about the fact that it's a tablet?


What about it? Look at the specs. It's basically an ultrabook with an optional detachable keyboard.

WinMunkee said,

Ok, what about the fact that it's a tablet?

Who cares? It's a FULL WINDOWS OS DEVICE. Doesn't matter if it's MiniITX/Tablet/hybrid/laptop/desktop.

wingliston said,
Its a tablet to me.

It can be anything to anyone, doesn't excuse the fact that it's running full Windows and has full USB support. So anything will run on this thing like any other computer. Nothing special at all! If it was RT or something else running ARM then that would be post worthy.

zeroomegazx said,
Ya know what? You're right! My iPad can't do that, only it can wirelessly transmit to an apple tv hooked up to a very HD monitor or TV and stream all content.
Ah, but you are 'streaming' different apps to different monitors how exactly?

WinMunkee said,

Ok, what about the fact that it's a tablet?

Yes, the fact that it is a very portable touch-enabled device means that it cannot be as good as a clunkier non-touch-enabled device. Infallible logic, like Apple's philosophy regarding how much functionality is permissible on the iPad without compromising Macbook sales.

S3P€hR said,

Surface pro is not laptop its a tablet, what he meant was windows tablets are the future

It's a laptop with none of the advantages of a laptop and none of the advantages of a tablet.

A craptop if you will.

Or in everyday parlance, a joke.

HoochieMamma said,

It's an UltraBook with a detachable keyboard running a full windows OS, not a 'tablet' per se.

Technically it is a 'true' tablet in strictest sense of the definition that the iPad even falls short. A 'tablet' is a portable slate device that uses handwriting as the input interface.

The iPad as most Android devices does not have 'true' stylus or handwriting technology, and is not 'technically' a tablet.

PS It is NOT an ultrabook, as the keyboard is not even a 'dock', let alone a 'removable keyboard' - I am guess you haven't ever used one.

This is a full i5 64bit computer and in a form factor equivalent to an iPad. It is also competitively priced and offers a full digitizer screen.

The point of this article, why have an iPad when you can have a device that is the same size and costs about the same and yet does anything you want?

Edited by Mobius Enigma, Aug 15 2013, 7:02am :

zeroomegazx said,
Ya know what? You're right! My iPad can't do that, only it can wirelessly transmit to an apple tv hooked up to a very HD monitor or TV and stream all content. Much handier for someone on the go as this guy claims. As far as getting work done? Just hook a monitor to your iPad. I can't imagine how crappy 5 monitors on a surface pro is without a powerful graphics card to actually be able to utilize that kind of workspace.

This device can also wirelessly send the screen, it is not an Apple only technology. (In fact this device has more options as any 3rd party software can run on it in addition to the built in DLNA or Miracast or Intel Wireless HD, etc.)

Tangmeister said,

Yes, the fact that it is a very portable touch-enabled device means that it cannot be as good as a clunkier non-touch-enabled device. Infallible logic, like Apple's philosophy regarding how much functionality is permissible on the iPad without compromising Macbook sales.


Actually even tablet sales did impact Macbook sales as well as PC. And Surface Pro have about the same specs as 13" Macbook Pro.

boo_star said,

It's a laptop with none of the advantages of a laptop and none of the advantages of a tablet.

A craptop if you will.

Or in everyday parlance, a joke.

Its a tablet, how is this hard to understand?

zeroomegazx said,
Ya know what? You're right! My iPad can't do that, only it can wirelessly transmit to an apple tv hooked up to a very HD monitor or TV and stream all content. Much handier for someone on the go as this guy claims. As far as getting work done? Just hook a monitor to your iPad. I can't imagine how crappy 5 monitors on a surface pro is without a powerful graphics card to actually be able to utilize that kind of workspace.

your comment is full of so much fail.. really.

> Much handier for someone on the go as this guy claims

How you think streaming video is better for someone that is clearly NOT doing that is quite beyond me.

> As far as getting work done? Just hook a monitor to your iPad

That works great for 1 app at once, running in 4:3. not a full desktop. Yes, you can get a remote desktop app to connect to your Mac, Linux or Windows desktop, but iPAD doesn't support a mouse API, so bluetooth mice don't work. That makes the experience horrible.

> Just hook a monitor to your iPad

the iPAD doesn't have any standard video out connectors, so you're forced to
a) go through an oldschool dock connector, which only mirrors the native 4:3 res to the display at an extra cost
b) newschool dock connector can't mirror correctly without encoding. terribad.

> can't imagine how crappy 5 monitors on a surface pro is without a powerful graphics card to actually be able to utilize that kind of workspace

Please at the very least try to understand how things work before you open your jabbering hole next time.. this is the result of what happens if you don't; you end up looking like an idiot. "USB attached video cards" - google it. Targus do a dual-headed USB3 video card for $70

HoochieMamma said,

It's an UltraBook with a detachable keyboard running a full windows OS, not a 'tablet' per se.

Techically the Mac Air is an Ultrabook. So why can't I detach the keyboard and it then becomes a tablet? Running OS X? Hmmmm.

Saying the Surface is a Ultrabook with a detachable tablet is lame. You're just mad Apple didnt do it. If Apple had did that and one of use said, Oh well its just a Macbook Air with a detachable tablet, you would have had a fit.

TechieXP, I am honestly not trying to be rude but I don't understand your argument. Do you mean that it would be wrong to call the Surface anything but a tablet? I'm confused.

Tangmeister said,
TechieXP, I am honestly not trying to be rude but I don't understand your argument. Do you mean that it would be wrong to call the Surface anything but a tablet? I'm confused.
No. The other poster was trying to argue that the Surface is just an Ultrabook with a detachable keyboard. That is simply false. If you took an ultrabook and detached the keyboard, you would be left with a useless display as all the internals of the laptop are with the keyboard. In this case the internal are in the tablet itself which maks his argument dumb.

So that is what I argued. If you took a MacBook Air (2012) which basically has the same hardware, and detached the keyboard, you wouldn't have a Surface device. You would simply have a monitor that couldn't do anything.

TechieXP said,
No. The other poster was trying to argue that the Surface is just an Ultrabook with a detachable keyboard. That is simply false. If you took an ultrabook and detached the keyboard, you would be left with a useless display as all the internals of the laptop are with the keyboard. In this case the internal are in the tablet itself which maks his argument dumb.

So that is what I argued. If you took a MacBook Air (2012) which basically has the same hardware, and detached the keyboard, you wouldn't have a Surface device. You would simply have a monitor that couldn't do anything.


i agree totally, but feel some people(even shock horror techy folks) have allowed the iPad and android based tablets define what is and isn't a tablet.

quick recap:

MS and OEMs made the first tablets, i know aimed at businesses types and expensive but still way ahead of the game.
MS allowed (via either shortsightedness, ignorance, plain bad management (add/subtract as you see fit here) this platform to die, at the same time WM died (after setting equal milestones).

so my point, after rambling is this, the tablet 'formfactor' is defined by its form in standard use, the surface and pro do not meet a keyboard or mouse and are entirely useable / configurable with pen, mouse, finger or ANY Bluetooth keyboard.

this makes it a tablet, plain and simple, its an entire Intel based x86 and full software compatible device that's in a tablet format 100% and if the need arises you can turn this tablet device into your main pc for work/playetc, no restrictions at all.

now please show me an android or iPad that gives these options without having to carry a laptop around as well.

Well I think Samsung has the dual-booting Android and Windows 8 tablet, with a (shudders) desktop shortcut that will shut down Windows and boot up Android. But that doesn't really count since it's using Windows to do Windows things.

boo_star said,

It's a laptop with none of the advantages of a laptop and none of the advantages of a tablet.

A craptop if you will.

Or in everyday parlance, a joke.


There are many people who don't agree with your statement, as for me it was a little bit heavy and battery life was not as good. but next surface pro is the one I am getting with haswell processor, thinner and lighter and most definitely better battery life. I Like the idea of All in One Portable device whatever you want to call it. suit yourself.

Surface Pro still needs an external GTX Titan option to make those 4 monitors useful for more than just general computing!

Enron said,
Surface Pro still needs an external GTX Titan option to make those 4 monitors useful for more than just general computing!
you would still be serverely limited by the CPU

Cool idea! I'm guessing he does not play games that require some power though. With his job title, Im sure he doesn't have time to play games. Also this comment, "If I can't take whatever I buy with me it is useless in today's world as far as I'm concerned." I find this comment very useless.

Edited by JHBrown, Aug 14 2013, 11:38pm :

JHBrown said,
Cool idea! I'm guessing he does not play games that require some power though. With his job title, Im sure he doesn't have time to play games. Also this comment, "If I can't take whatever I buy with me it is useless in today's world as far as I'm concerned." I find this comment very useless.

Actually the comment isn't useless at all, it shows that him, and a lot of people at his level considers portability more important than most other factors when choosing a computer.

To be honest I also thought like that. Then in this site's forum, I was shown that there are external docks to connect video cards with good performance. All you need is a nice PCI express port, or in a future, a USB 3.1 / Thunderbolt port.

Jose_49 said,
To be honest I also thought like that. Then in this site's forum, I was shown that there are external docks to connect video cards with good performance. All you need is a nice PCI express port, or in a future, a USB 3.1 / Thunderbolt port.
Correct. You can also do the same thing on Macs. The only problem is the bottleneck of USB and Thunderbolt. They are not fast enough to keep up with even a low end graphics card. In the future I can myself letting go of my desktop and gaming laptop if we can get a decent external graphics card setup.