With the Surface Pro Microsoft has made a statement on what a PC should be for the next five to ten years. Rather than fading away the PC will become thin, lite, and easy to use while retaining the flexibility that has always been the hallmark of the personal computer. That said, Surface Pro is not perfect for all uses. These are my impressions after spending a week with the Microsoft Surface Pro 64 GB.
I have been an avid Linux user since 1997. M$ has been part of my life only because I like to play games and they have the best platforms for gaming. With the surface pro they created the best mobile computer on the market today. This is not a clone of the iPad. This is a statement on what the PC should be. Surface pro is a declaration that the “Post PC” era hasn't come and will never come.
For the longest time I have been using an HP Touchsmart TM2 which weighed about 4 lbs. Surface pro has better specs by far and is half the weight. Everything my old convertible tablet could do this new device does better. It even runs Ubuntu Linux, with most of the functions working, with little difficulty. (Only the wifi is lacking but that will come along with future Linux kernel releases). This PC can do everything I need a PC for on a day to day basis as a science student. With the optional “type” cover I can write Latex or Matlab code on it. I can take handwritten notes on it. I can make a PowerPoint presentation on it. Scientist should consider un-tethering from their desk, and still working to be a real option.
I have had an Android tablet. They generally can’t be used for productive content creation. In fact all Android and IOS are good for is buying content created by others.
The storage sizes available for Surface Pro are kind of small compared to today’s hard disk drives. That said, look at how many SD cards and USB pen drives we technophiles have laying around. Look at all the different cloud storage options we have. There is no reason that the vast majority of files and even programs needs to be on the system hard drive.
One of the best and worst aspects of the Surface pro is the screen. On one hand it is very sharp. Retina display like sharp. On the other it is small compared to most PC screens and it can be hard to read. For that reason alone I would suggest that if one has a Surface Pro or any similar tablet they should at least keep their old laptop or desktop for the times a big screen is essential. I would not want to watch a ripped DVD on surface pro unless I was watching alone.
Improvements I would like in the future.
I would like to see a docking option which would involve inserting the surface pro into a large touchscreen. This would contain more storage for playing 3D PC games and movies.
I would like to see tablets made with better graphics options. The Intel HD4000 is better than the stand alone graphics in my pc from three years ago by far. However it pales in comparison to the best available graphics chips.
In the future the main storage of these devices should be user serviceable and upgradeable.
In short surface pro is a good buy as a computer for real world science and educational use. Microsoft has demonstrated decisively that the PC as we have known it since 1980 isn’t going to go away. It will only change its shape.