Surface Pro is making people crazy

For whatever reason, some folks in the media went a little nutty during the lead-up and launch of Microsoft's high-end Surface Pro convertible tablet PC. It's time for a reality check.

I understand that Microsoft is a divisive company. I get it; I really do. Over the years, they’ve won over a few fans and created more than a few enemies - and both sides are constantly at war. But what’s happened since the release of the company’s Surface Pro tablet PC was nothing short of incredible. It seemed that an as-yet-unknown feature of Surface Pro was making some journalists a bit crazy.

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I couldn’t believe some of things I was reading from long-time, well-respected journalists in the industry. Assuming, of course, that the journalists actually meant what they wrote (which isn’t always a safe assumption in the world of online journalism). It seemed as though some basic tenets of the PC had been all but forgotten for the sake of sensationalism, or maybe just to simply bash Microsoft. Who knows?

Surface Pro’s final pricing, battery life, and available storage sent way too many "informed" journalists into a tizzy, so let’s address all three points.

Many claimed Surface Pro’s pricing was/is too high in light of Android tablets and the iPad. Huh? Surface RT is the device targeted at those low-power, ARM-based products. Surface Pro - although a tablet in appearance and form factor - is akin to a convertible Ultrabook-class machine. Go price a 10-point, multi-touch-enabled Ultrabook, with all solid state storage, a high-quality, full HD resolution screen, an Intel Core i5 processor, and a form factor that’s in line with the thinnest and lightest Ultrabooks or the MacBook air. Suddenly, Surface Pro won’t seem all that expensive.

Considering the hardware used in the Surface Pro, the comparatively short battery life versus Android tablets, the iPad, and even Surface RT shouldn’t have been a surprise either. The Surface Pro is thinner and lighter than most convertible tablets and it’s powered by a mainstream x86 CPU. Of course its battery life is going to be relatively short. It’s not a flaw; it was a design tradeoff. Microsoft could have easily increased the thickness of the device and crammed a larger battery in there. Microsoft erred on the side of portability; there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the Surface Pro’s battery. I’d wager that if Microsoft took the alternate route and made Surface Pro a bit thicker and heavier, those aspects of the device would have been panned instead.

All the folks clamoring over the available storage (or lack thereof) on Surface Pro must not have bought many new PC or laptops recently. The vast majority of systems bought at retail will include a boatload of bloatware, a recovery partition, and perhaps another hidden partition that can be used to create physical media backups. And let’s not forget Surface Pro is running full-blown Windows 8. All of that takes up storage space. Where’s all of the outrage over other PCs or laptops with limited storage due to preinstalled software and recovery data? If anything, Microsoft should be criticized for thinking the 64GB Surface Pro, which has only 29GB of free space out of the box, was a good idea in the first place. Releasing only 128GB or 256GB models would have been a better bet, and would have eliminated much of the chatter.

Perhaps I’m more forgiving of these supposed issues because I’m a tech geek. I expected them and would have no problem working around them if the need arose. Maybe that makes me the crazy one.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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