Microsoft's Surface tablet. With its 10" screen, touch interface and included case/keyboard, the device immediately captured the attention of travelers and adventurers who were drawn to the small size, durability and potential to be more productive than other tablets currently on the market.
When the device was announced we were told that it would come in two flavors, Surface RT and Surface Pro. The RT, which was released a month ago, runs a scaled down version of Windows 8 but still came across as a breath of fresh air for the tablet market. But the Pro version we're told will run a full version of Windows and will be powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, which is the same processor that many laptops run. When the Surface was announced, we didn't know when to expect the Pro version or how much it would cost, but yesterday Microsoft filled in the details.
The Surface Pro will be released in January and come in two configurations. The 64GB model will cost $899 and the 128GB version will be released at $999. Both system swill include a stylus for taking notes, drawing or for general handwriting input. Unfortunately, neither of the Pro models will come with the excellent Surface Touch or Typc Covers, which are standard on the RT model. Adding one to the Pro will set you back another $99. Considering these covers are a part of what sets the Surface apart from the competition, it's a bit disappointing that it isn't included out of the box.
The disappointment doesn't end there however. It seems the more powerful processor on the Surface Pro really puts a hit on the battery. Where as the RT model can last about 10 hours between recharges, the Pro is rated for just 4. That is severely limiting for a product like this one, which many of us had hoped would last all day and provide performance above and beyond similar devices from the competition.
It will be interesting to see how well the Surface Pro performs when it is actually released. The promise is there for it to be a powerful mobile device for doing a lot more work than is typically possible with other tablets, although the relatively short battery life could be a limiting factor. Still, this lightweight and very small device remains very intriguing as a communications and productivity tool for use in Base Camps around the world. Whether or not it is a suitable replacement for a laptop remains to be seen.