Surface Pro tidbits: Better speakers than Surface RT and more

Today's Ask Me Anything session on Reddit with the Microsoft Surface team revealed a number of interesting facts about the upcoming Surface Pro tablet, which we reviewed on Tuesday, and will go on sale on Saturday in the US and Canada.

The AMA session included word that the speakers on the Surface Pro have gotten a boost compared to the earlier Surface RT tablet. The team stated:

Yes, the speakers are different in Pro. They are higher powered because there is more space in the Pro. At the same time, we are making updates to RT to improve the speaker performance there too.

The team also said that the Surface Pro could load other operating systems besides Windows 8. The team stated,  "Like other Windows 8 machines, you can access BIOS settings and turn off secure boot, enabling you to load other OSes."

One question asked about the included stylus that will be sold with all Surface Pro tablets. The Surface team stated that the pen can "register 210 (1024) levels of pressure.". In another answer, the team said:

 ... the Cleartype Display tech has a very thin optical stack which gets your pen tip closer to your ink. We also do some secret sauce to maximize the accuracy of the pen.. Basically every Surface Pro on the manufacturing line gets its own unique multipoint non-linear pen calibration.

One issue that has been brought out in the reviews of the Surface Pro is that it its 10.6 inch screen has a high resolution which means that it has to be scaled to 150 percent for the desktop UI. One person wanted to keep this percentage on the Surface Pro but also use scaling at 100 percent on an external display but currently Windows 8 does not allow this to happen. The Surface team stated, "The Windows team is aggressively working on this feature to fix this for all high resolution Windows devices. We don’t have a date yet to share, so sorry."

Yet another question asked about the possibility of the Surface tablets getting some kind of 3G or 4G wireless support. The team's response was that users could connect a wireless modem to the Surface, along with enabling tethering support with a Windows Phone device.

The Surface team made a slight dig at Apple's product lineup with the answer to a question on how the Surface stacks up to competitors, saying, "Surface Pro is perfect for the person that wants a MacBook Air and an iPad, but doesn’t want the weight or hassle of both devices. We didn’t skimp on the performance you need to run a business but gave it to you in a very portable package."

Source: Reddit

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I don't get why is so difficult to see. How many times you are carrying your iPad and you find yourself wishing you have brought your laptop to work better on your finances with two windows side by side, spreadsheet and online bank statement, or something like that.
The Surface, even the RT, is an excellent alternative that occupies less space and cost less than the combination of iPad/MBA. Moreover, plug it to an external monitor, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and is a desktop, then take it to a meeting as a tablet, with all your data an apps with you in one device.
This separation between tablet and laptop, between two devices that are virtually the same, just a couple inches different, makes no sense at all. They both have screen, CPU, RAM, storage, apps, one is maybe two inches bigger than the other. Why do we need two, why do we need to replicate data, apps and compromise?
The ideal Windows 8 tablet will be dockable, and connect to external monitors and a regular sized mouse and keyboard, and charge while in dock, then you can undock and use as tablet, or pull the touch keyboard for those casual on the go activities, but for hard work, you'll dock it and use a large external monitor. Right now my laptop is docked and I use external monitors and I wished this laptop was a device such as the Surface tablet, so it is easier to carry around to meetings and on the street.

CSharp. said,
I'm not sure they're doing themselves any favors by creating the expectation that the Surface Pro could in any way replace the combination of a MB Air and an iPad.

It has the exact same, identical internal hardware as a MBA with a massive improvement to the screen, why shouldn't they compare? I think when compared to iPad there are obviously shortcomings like battery, but that is more Intel's fault and hopefully something that Haswell will finally fix next year.

Luis Mazza said,
Tablets and notebooks are very different, for different situations. Apple did not choose to make a tablet and a notebook one single product only because that would kill the notebook. They chose individual products because they have different uses and form factors.

Can't wait for when Apple make a device like Surface Pro to see what you'll be saying then. It will happen, it's inevitable. Everything including Intel's CPU's (Haswell) are all heading toward devices like this.

Also, the rest of what you said is a load of ****.

Charles Keledjian said,
I don't get why is so difficult to see. How many times you are carrying your iPad and you find yourself wishing you have brought your laptop to work better on your finances with two windows side by side, spreadsheet and online bank statement, or something like that.
The Surface, even the RT, is an excellent alternative that occupies less space and cost less than the combination of iPad/MBA. Moreover, plug it to an external monitor, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and is a desktop, then take it to a meeting as a tablet, with all your data an apps with you in one device.
This separation between tablet and laptop, between two devices that are virtually the same, just a couple inches different, makes no sense at all. They both have screen, CPU, RAM, storage, apps, one is maybe two inches bigger than the other. Why do we need two, why do we need to replicate data, apps and compromise?
The ideal Windows 8 tablet will be dockable, and connect to external monitors and a regular sized mouse and keyboard, and charge while in dock, then you can undock and use as tablet, or pull the touch keyboard for those casual on the go activities, but for hard work, you'll dock it and use a large external monitor. Right now my laptop is docked and I use external monitors and I wished this laptop was a device such as the Surface tablet, so it is easier to carry around to meetings and on the street.

Some bulletpoints from my experience:

* I have a Galaxy Note 2, which has a 5.5 inches screen. If it was "only two inches" (like you said) bigger, then it would be bigger than a Nexus 7 and not usable as a phone anymore. Obviously, the Surface cannot be used as a smartphone, so it's a no-go here.

* I had an iPad 4 for 15 days, then I gave up the device (sold it on eBay) because it was too heavy and big, also the screen was also too big for my needs and too heavy and underpowered for me to carry around. My Note 2 does a better job on browsing the internet in my bed, play games, read, etc... Thus I can bring it in my pocket and connect bluetooth keyboards and even external monitors. So portability here is key.
I don't need a bulky tablet.

* I have a Retina MacbookPro, which I use for heavy visual work, games and the performance is top-notch. Connectivity is just wonderful, with two Thunderbolt and USB3 ports. The battery life is great (more than 7 hours-tested) and it is very light-weight. Also, the form-factor allows me to use it as a LAPtop, I can consume content pretty fine and take it everywhere. Also, I can use it as a real work tool, with a real keyboard, a real great screen (15 inches) and superb performance.

My conclusion:

The Surface has a 10.6 inches screen: it's even bigger and thicker than the current iPad 4, with much less battery life. So that's a huge problem for me and many users. So it is actually a joke in tablet-mode for me.
Being so bulky, heavy and with shorter battery life, the Surface also has a smaller screen compared to my laptop. I never liked the idea of serious work on netbooks, so I won't like it on a Surface for the same reasons... Also with a worse keyboard compared to a netbook.
Then comes connectivity and desktop-mode... Well... I wonder why I would like to use the Surface as a desktop computer, because then I would have to have the monitor, the external keyboard and the mouse. If as you said, it's only a matter of connecting to a dock, don't forget that if you want to really use the Surface in this convenient way, then you have to first buy the dock, the monitor, the keyboard and the mouse, because you gotta agree with me that doing serious work on a 10.6 inches screen is a pain... But it is not a pain on a 15 inches screen, on a LAPtop, with a keyboard and decent touchpad.

So, with the Surface there's no real tablet, no real laptop, no real desktop. What do we have left?
I don't know.

Luis Mazza said,
But that is exactly where the Surface is targeted...
It's just not convincing enough.
Tablets and notebooks are very different, for different situations. Apple did not choose to make a tablet and a notebook one single product only because that would kill the notebook. They chose individual products because they have different uses and form factors.
I think you can turn a laptop into a desktop if you compromise a little performance, but you can't turn a tablet into a notebook or a desktop, because then you would be losing two steps in the computer world: one is the desktop, the other one is the laptop. That's too much regarding form factor, performance and usability.
That's why the Surface is a frankenstein product. Maybe someday it'll get there. But that's not so close in computer's ages.

Apple wasn't 'smart' about protecting their notebook sales. Instead their iPad has cannibalized their high profit notebooks, causing a decline for their own sales in the past quarter.

Apple 'wanted' to have OS X fully running on the iPad, but couldn't make it happen. This is why they were so vocal about Windows running on an iPad class device and being 'faster' than the stripped down iOS, as Microsoft pulled off what they were wanting to do and failed.

thenetavenger said,

Apple wasn't 'smart' about protecting their notebook sales. Instead their iPad has cannibalized their high profit notebooks, causing a decline for their own sales in the past quarter.

Apple 'wanted' to have OS X fully running on the iPad, but couldn't make it happen. This is why they were so vocal about Windows running on an iPad class device and being 'faster' than the stripped down iOS, as Microsoft pulled off what they were wanting to do and failed.

Yes, Apple was "smart". I don't think Apple has anything to complain about their high profits. They just changed a low-volume (highly profitable) Mac sales by a high-volume and profitable iOS devices. Their profits grew to astronomical values, turning the company one of the most profitable companies in the world, if not the most profitable one.

Second point you stated is that Apple wanted to have OS X fully running on the iPad, but that is hardly the truth, because they're not Microsoft. If you look at older iPad prototypes, they were as huge as the Surface and Apple never launched it, because it would be too dumb to do that. Apparently, that's not a dumb move for Microsoft.

Time will tell who's got the right strategy. But if today's actual sales are a sign of who's going to win, take a look at PCs and tablets sales charts... The Surface is not a real tablet, nor a real laptop. So... There's a new market for frankenstein devices?
Maybe... There's a market for hovercrafts too. Small, but there is one anyway.

Luis Mazza said,

Yes, Apple was "smart". I don't think Apple has anything to complain about their high profits. They just changed a low-volume (highly profitable) Mac sales by a high-volume and profitable iOS devices. Their profits grew to astronomical values, turning the company one of the most profitable companies in the world, if not the most profitable one.

Second point you stated is that Apple wanted to have OS X fully running on the iPad, but that is hardly the truth, because they're not Microsoft. If you look at older iPad prototypes, they were as huge as the Surface and Apple never launched it, because it would be too dumb to do that. Apparently, that's not a dumb move for Microsoft.

Time will tell who's got the right strategy. But if today's actual sales are a sign of who's going to win, take a look at PCs and tablets sales charts... The Surface is not a real tablet, nor a real laptop. So... There's a new market for frankenstein devices?
Maybe... There's a market for hovercrafts too. Small, but there is one anyway.


First Apple isn't the most profitable company, Also its temporary, Apple isnt going to sustain their high profits.

Second, the Surface Pro is not aimed at consumers as the iPad is.

nohone said,

You mean the web sites that excuse the MacBook Air for having a 3:34 hour battery life, but advise you to not buy the Surface Pro because its 3:59 hour battery is unacceptable?

If you're talking about The Verge, and I think you are because the numbers and rankings you bring up are in line with their reviews, they never excused the Air for having a 3:34 hour battery life. I don't think they even reviewed the 11" model or listed its battery life. 3:34 is a number you came up with because you assumed that whatever the 13" gets as far as battery life, subtracting 2 hours will give you the results of the 11" model. The same model I've seen you compare to the Surface Pro.

Well, AnandTech ran some tests instead of fabricating numbers. Under a medium work load, the battery for the 11" clocks in at 3:57, while the 13" comes in at 5:21. I know we're only talking about a difference of 23 minutes here (you vs AnandTech) but I think you came up with that number because you're always quick to defend Microsoft on all fronts, while using fabricated numbers from companies like Apple or Google to make it look like Microsoft is not getting a fair shake. You do that while also complaining that you feel that every company isn't treated or looked at fairly.

Source: http://www.anandtech.com/show/...ir-13inch-mid-2012-review/8

Disagree with that last bit - "Surface Pro is perfect for the person that wants a MacBook Air and an iPad, but doesn't want the weight or hassle of both devices. We didn't skimp on the performance you need to run a business but gave it to you in a very portable package."

I've currently got all 3, a new-ish MacBook Air 11" along with an iPad mini and Surface RT. Based on my experience living with the products I vastly prefer the Apple devices. The Surface is a decent enough first attempt but its flawed in many areas and I don't see how the Pro really addresses these other than introducing more weaknesses and a higher price. Trying to hard to be a jack of all trades but its a master of none.

Awaiting the usual attack I get whenever I post these sort of comments...

J400uk said,
Disagree with that last bit - "Surface Pro is perfect for the person that wants a MacBook Air and an iPad, but doesn't want the weight or hassle of both devices. We didn't skimp on the performance you need to run a business but gave it to you in a very portable package."

I've currently got all 3, a new-ish MacBook Air 11" along with an iPad mini and Surface RT. Based on my experience living with the products I vastly prefer the Apple devices. The Surface is a decent enough first attempt but its flawed in many areas and I don't see how the Pro really addresses these other than introducing more weaknesses and a higher price. Trying to hard to be a jack of all trades but its a master of none.

Awaiting the usual attack I get whenever I post these sort of comments...


Explain your statements and you'll probably get attacked less.

J400uk said,
Awaiting the usual attack I get whenever I post these sort of comments...

What, like I agree that there are many edges that I wish the Surface RT had cleaned up, but I still find it more useful than my iPad. And you really can't compare the RT to the MacBook Air, the Surface Pro is the one you compare to the MB Air?

Wow, what a vicious attack against you I just made there.

You couldn't even come up with an example? The only area I see flawed compared to a MBA is the screen angle being fixed. If I had to choose I'd rather have the 1080p touch screen of the Surface Pro than the 768p non-touch of the MBA.

A computer without a touch screen at this point is becoming archaic. I've stopped buying Macs because of the lack of support for touch screen apps.

siah1214 said,

Explain your statements and you'll probably get attacked less.

Ok well I like the Surface, but I don't feel its a credible iPad replacement. I've found the RT somewhat frustrating to use mainly due to the lack of Windows Store Apps and the touch keyboard is very hit and miss. It feels like its trying to be both a laptop and tablet at the same time, but it isn't as good as either. The Pro may introduce x86 compatibility but in doing that they've made an already heavy device weigh even more and reduced the battery life, not to mention the higher cost. Its just hard to see the appeal.

Trust me when Microsoft first unveiled the Surface range I really wanted to like them, hence I purchased an RT but I'm just not convinced its the killer device made out. I often end up taking both the iPad mini and MacBook Air when I go out or travel etc as I find them so much less tedious to use and more productive.

@nohone - I realise the RT isn't an Air competitor but my issue is the weaknesses with that device are still present in the Pro which is an Air competitor. Trust me I'm not here for an Apple vs MS war but I really think they've dropped the ball with the Surface.

@Avatar Roku - See above for example. The fixed screen angle is a massive pain also, and the entire form factor means you can't really use it on your lap. In regard to the screen I think 1080P is too big for a 10" Windows device and the DPI settings don't work in all desktop applications.

Microsoft needs to have 3G and 4G as part of Pro or even RT. Corporate Executives would want to access their emails outside the building, and connection must be instantaneous - switchng between wi-fi and data connection and vice versa. We are doing that now with the iPhone.

This is one of the things that MS must get it right to change the perception of Surface to executives.

Surface Pro has Bluethooth and a USB port
You have two options there
1. Use your Mobile Phone to create a WiFi hotspot
2. Buy a 3g/4g Dongle and plug it in

Problem sorted...

Well aware of it, but try telling that to an executive. Apparently, you have not worked in an enterprise environment and directly dealt with executives.

Wow, actual information about the device.

Too bad nobody at Neowin actually had a Surface Pro to review and talk about the differences and specific features of the Surface Pro.

Oh wait, they did, and told us NOTHING except they think a 16:9 screen is less balanced than a 4:3 screen in their 'reality'.

The Surface Pro has a lot of interesting features and uses that are not talked about. Nobody has talked about how well the multi touch onscreen keyboard works (barely even mentioned on the SurfaceRT), and nothing has been said about using handwriting with the device virtually full time.

Oddly, non-tech sites like NBC News have more comprehensive reviews of the Surface Pro and a better understanding of how it fits into the Tablet and Notebook worlds rather well.

Strange that Neowin is no longer able to provide 'tech' information and non-tech journalists are doing a better job with reviews and understanding the product.

The human brain is a belief engine that uses comparative processing, so it makes sense that people will want to compare it to an iPad or an Ultrabook, but in reality it should be compared to a TabletPC and that genre of products that were designed around handwriting and touch.

There is also the gaming market that is already using custom 'accelerometer' tie in software to use the tablet in games like WoW, SWTOR, etc. (NBC News even talked about this.)

thenetavenger said,
The Surface Pro has a lot of interesting features and uses that are not talked about. Nobody has talked about how well the multi touch onscreen keyboard works (barely even mentioned on the SurfaceRT), and nothing has been said about using handwriting with the device virtually full time.

thenetavenger said,
it makes sense that people will want to compare it to an iPad or an Ultrabook, but in reality it should be compared to a TabletPC and that genre of products that were designed around handwriting and touch.

That is actually a pretty good point and I would agree with that. Note who it is that is making the comparison to the iPad and Macbook Air though (last paragraph of the story).

The Surface team: "Surface Pro is perfect for the person that wants a MacBook Air and an iPad, but doesn't want the weight or hassle of both devices. We didn't skimp on the performance you need to run a business but gave it to you in a very portable package."

Walt Mossberg: "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."

well. gee. who's bullsheeting who now.

i am guessing surface pro caters to a niche market of people who are dumber than the apple fanboys. namely, the microsoft fanboys. lol.

Albert said,
The Surface team: "Surface Pro is perfect for the person that wants a MacBook Air and an iPad, but doesn't want the weight or hassle of both devices. We didn't skimp on the performance you need to run a business but gave it to you in a very portable package."

Walt Mossberg: "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."

well. gee. who's bullsheeting who now.

i am guessing surface pro caters to a niche market of people who are dumber than the apple fanboys. namely, the microsoft fanboys. lol.


Yes the most powerfull tablet around. Which can easily turn into a laptop (add the keyboard) or even fully fledged desktop (dock it to external monitor/keyboard+mouse).
Play your windows game, use programs like an ordinary computer.
Yet just grab it, be on the road and use it as a tablet.

And the only downsides are "its thicker/heavier" then an ordinary tablet and its battery time is less.
OH MY GOD NO LETS ALL COMPLETELY HATE IT!

gah and you think MS fanboys are stupid?

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