Surface Pro: Too much money for too little tablet?

Surface Pro: Too much money for too little tablet?

Summary: The Surface Pro, Microsoft's Windows 8 tablet/laptop for the enterprise, may offer too little goodness for too much money.

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Too expensive as a tablet, not remarkable as a laptop, does Microsoft's Surface Pro have any place in IT?

The Surface Pro, Microsoft's Windows 8 hybrid tablet/laptop for business, sounds good. But, at a starting price of $899 for the 64GB model, without a keyboard, is anyone going to want it?

The good news is that the Surface Pro runs full Windows 8, rather than the crippled Windows RT. While I have no use for Windows 8 on a desktop, I've also thought that its "Metro" interface might work well on a tablet.

In addition, with an Intel Core i5 processor the Surface Pro has the horsepower needs to run Windows 8 properly. The Surface RT, with its NVIDIA Tegra 3 ARM processor, is underpowered. So why do I think that the Surface Pro will be too little, too late?

In two words: the Apple iPad.

Love it or hate it, the iPad started the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement in IT. Steve Jobs may not have had office workers in mind when he dreamed up the iPad, but the iPad has become the poster-child for tablets in business.

Besides grabbing people's imagination, for once the iPad is cheaper than its competition. A 64GB iPad with Retina Display with Wi-Fi and cellular is $829. That's $70 less than the entry level Surface Pro.

Some people argue that the Surface Pro is not over-priced because its competition is really more lightweight laptops like the MacBook Air. My response is that while it may not be fair to compare the Surface Pro with the iPad, that's exactly what people will do.

Besides if you do compare the Surface Pro with the MacBook Air does it really do that well? I don't think so. Microsoft itself admits that the Surface Pro will have only half the battery life of the Surface RT. That would put it, at best. at about 4 and a half hours, which is awful for a tablet, and a bit below my MacBook Air, which consistently gets five hours plus.

It's also, I must add, below my Samsung Celeron-powered Chromebook, which comes in with six hours, and my ARM-powered Chromebook, which keeps running for up to six-and-a-half hours. The ARM model, which runs great with the lightweight Chrome OS, also only costs $249.

If Microsoft had waited to introduce the Surface Pro after Intel's more energy efficient Clover Trail chipset the Surface Pro might have been more competitive. Clover Trail has been slow to arrive though and the Surface Pro won't be available for purchase until January even so.

What it all adds up to is that the Surface Pro is tardy to market; simply isn't competitive as a tablet; and, with the Touch Cover or Type Cover add-ons ($120 or $130), it's not that interesting as a notebook. I see IT departments buying iPads, Android tablets, MacBooks or Ultrabooks for all the niches that the Surface Pro might fill. Neither fish nor fowl, I don't see the Surface Pro finding a business audience.

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Topics: Microsoft Surface, Windows, Tablets, Mobility, Mobile OS, Microsoft, Laptops, iPad, Intel, Hardware, Google, Apple

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  • Surface Pro: Too much money for too little tablet?

    Popcorn, Bear and Pizza.

    Go……
    daikon
    • I prefer a beer

      Bears might attack you. Agree on the popcorn and pizza, though. Now, let the "discussion" begin...
      Smalahove
    • --

      Correction Beer
      daikon
      • Maybe

        you had the right idea, smother SJVN with Pizza and sticky sweet Popcorn, let loose bear.
        Xenon8
        • I like it :-)

          I am a fan of SJVN and I think he makes thoughtful, salient points evidenced by factual and experiential evidence. That said, Xenon8, that was pretty funny. +1 for the LOL.
          gregv2k
          • Factual and experiential evidence...

            SJVN brief bio: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge PC operating system. Elsewhere on ZDNet, SJVN covers Networking and Open Source.

            mmm Factual? I could list quite a few FICTION WRITERS... Experiental evidence .. ex·pe·ri·en·tial ( k-spîr - n sh l). adj. Relating to or derived from experience ...

            google bio: Bio

            Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it!

            ok... I get it he is a WRITER ...

            so lets see what gregv2k means

            ev·i·dence/ˈevədəns/
            Noun:
            The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

            So he reckons his writing (and obviously researching other like minded writers) is evidence that his writing is factual and derived from his experience.....

            No way is that in any shape or form factual or based upon his real world experiences...

            and finally an observation of one of SJVN's comments :
            I see IT departments buying iPads, Android tablets, MacBooks or Ultrabooks for all the niches that the Surface Pro might fill. Neither fish nor fowl, I don't see the Surface Pro finding a business audience.

            I have dealt with many huge corporates who have massive investment in Microsoft... they will not discard that investment ... no, the MS strategy of providing their customers a strong sound roadmap will ensure Win8 and all their cloudbased apps being released will be the way forward... think again SJVN

            signed someone slightly older than SJVN and who has WORKED with technology even older than CP/M and is still actually writing code and developing apps and building hardware and networks.
            zubo
          • Factual and experiential evidence...

            Zubo......You are 100% correct... Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has no clue.. and I am a proud owner of an Ipad and Itouch... which will die as soon as I get my hands on a Surface Pro
            ca9720
          • zubo...Only Loverock Davidson has more to say on anything than SJVN

            At least least SJVN is employed and paid in dollars for what he says as opposed to Loverock Davidson can only claim a total dislike anything Linux and a over the top love for anything Microsoft to the poind of spreading FUD.

            So it boils down to whom youd rather believe a top Zdnet journalist writer like SJVN or what has been reported here on Zdnet as a burger flipper in Loverock Davidson.

            You have to wonder if Loverock Davidson only technology background is mainly derived from entering data on a touch device at Burger King how is he can be consider the last word on anything technology related.

            I think SJVN wins this one over Loverock Davidson hands down.
            Over and Out
          • Zubo Really

            Zubo, I don't believe you. I am, older and remember when "huge corporates" would never give up "big iron" for these toys "Microcomputers." How'd that turn out? I remember when we said "No one ever got fired for buying IBM." I see you are the "No one ever got fired for buying Microsoft" crowd. Fanbois are so out in the 21st century.

            Now I run a telecom company which develops high speed Wireless Internet equipment and I too program, more for fun, with several apps in the Google Play and IOS apps personally.

            As the CEO of a company who would be buying these devices SJVN has hit it right on the nose. I do not see any advantage of the SUrface and I see major disadvantages. MS has yet to show it can innovate in the slightest and this slab hits the street with tons of cruft in its background, your holier than thou rant notwithstanding. I ask you. How many thousands of IT is in your budget for this year? As someone who just spent several million on buying a IT company that I will have my COO take over and bring back to profitability, I can tell you that Surface is not in our plans. We do, however, do all of our net monitoring on IOS and Android devices, with programs written in-house, and issue tablets to all of our employees.
            macrhino
        • Ha! Fantasitic.

          Funny, but actually, a little too violent. Even SVJN has a right not to be mauled by a bear, but stunningly funny none the less.
          Cayble
    • Why else does he write about Microsoft?

      Now, I haven't read the article, but let me guess - Nobody will buy it because there are too many negative variables.

      Was I close? ;)
      William Farrel
      • "Now, I haven't read the article, but let me guess"

        And with that, William Farell reveals his day-in day-out strategy behind the thought-provoking and well-reasoned substance in his posts.
        gregv2k
        • Nah, With that I reveal the farce that is SJVN.

          you on the other hand are just a sad, little troll.

          You know you are - acccept the label you worked so hard for, and be proud you accomplished SOMETHING in you life you set out to do.

          Now, about those iPad mini numbers...

          LOL! :)
          William Farrel
          • Troll?

            You are a troll !!
            Watchmen247
        • Well! Honestly...

          Lets think about this for at least a couple seconds.

          SJVN hates Windows guts, and Windows 8's guts in particular. There is no question he has said flat outright in a number of occasions that Windows 8 is a nightmare that any sane person should avoid.

          Now his article title says "Surface Pro: Too much money for too little tablet?"

          If you think about this at all...its bizarre. Truly weird.

          Lets say for example SJVN was a restaurant critic. Lets say he discovers a restaurant chain called “Jims Place”, that in his opinion serves absolutely horrible unpalatable food that is so bad just eating it you risk food poisoning. Further, lets also say that he says he has given this restaurant numerous tries to confirm his wretched opinion of the food, and he continues to say, there is no doubt about the fact that the food is absolutely ghastly.

          When it comes to eating at a restaurant, if the food is anything near that bad there is nothing that can make it worthwhile to eat there. Giving the food away for free wouldn’t do the trick. Putting in new seats tables and lighting with entirely new decor wouldn’t do the trick. Even top notch service wouldn’t help if they are serving up garbage. Hes already explained the food is just terrible and must be avoided.

          Now he writes a new review on “Jims Place” because they are serving up the exact same menu from a new kind of mobile food truck. The title of his new review is:

          “Jims Place Food Wagon: Too much money for too little food?"

          WHAT?

          That cant be right??? Who cares about the price…who cares even if they gave you triple the food!! Its crap from the beginning I thought?

          Who cares if they give you the Surface for free!? Who cares if they make it an even better tablet?!?!

          According to SJVN here are the problems with Windows 8:
          “You'll find this model, and dozens of others, at Best Buy and other retailers, for great prices on Black Friday. They all have only one problem: They're all still running Windows 8 and it's just as bad as I remembered.”
          “Windows 8 does include another interface, Windows 8 Desktop. It works like the old Windows WIMP interface... except it's uglier and harder to use. Windows 7's Aero smooth curves? Gone. The Start button? History. Integration with Metro and its applications? Abysmal.”
          “The Desktop interface is a major step back in functionality and adds insult to injury by requiring to learn new ways of doing the same old things you already knew how to do on Windows 7.”
          “This is Microsoft taking crapware to a whole new level.”
          “The real trouble starts when you begin using the charms. Besides not even coming close to replacing the functionality of the Start button, their design is… not so charming.”

          “But, wait there's more! For me one of single most annoying utter failure for a built-in Windows 8 app, though, goes to Windows 8 Mail. While it has many problems…”
          “The Windows 8 mail client actually left me wishing I could use Outlook, and I've always hated Outlook.”
          And that’s from just one negative article by SJVN. He has plenty more. He’s made it dead plain he thinks Windows 8 is complete crap.
          So whats he even talking about "Surface Pro: Too much money for too little tablet?"
          Shouldn’t it be “Surface Pro: More Windows 8 rubbish on new hardware”?
          Seriously, I didn’t bother even reading the article. Its now clear hes just reaching to find a different angle to attack Windows 8 by saying Surface Pro is too much money. What does it matter how much it cost if its just plain crap anyway. Its stupid. Either he thinks Windows 8 is crap and a non starter or he dosnt. Too much money for too little tablet dosnt even enter into it.
          If the OS is crap; all else is moot.
          Unless your just a hater and are continuously looking for new and improved ways to diss what you hate.
          Cayble
          • Review

            For all that writing.. ranting….

            You disagree with Steven’s article.
            daikon
          • Dont you get the point?????

            His article itself is garbage. Its a red herring.

            I wouldnt know if I disareee with his article or not because he destroyed his credability on Windows 8 weeks ago.

            His hate of Windows 8 is absolutly blinding. He just simply hates it with a passion that makes no sense.

            He lost his ability to hold sway over sane peoples considerations ages ago.

            He makes zero effort to provide any reasoned balance to his articles, his claims about Windows 8 have repeatedly flown in the opposite direction of reality. You can say you dislike something and it dosnt serve your needs and explain why, once you make claims and predictions that have zero bearing on facts and reality...well, you show its more important to you to convince others to hate the same way you do than to ever admit to even an already established fact that tends to disagree with your personal dislkie.

            So, he may well be right. Who knows? WHo cares because there is no earthly way to tell by reading one of SJVN's articles on anything Windows 8 because when it comes to Windows 8 he has absolutly no credability and has long ago proved without a doubt that what ever he says about anything Windows 8 is just as likely to fly in the face of reality as to actually say anything at all accurate.
            Cayble
          • Dont you get the point?????

            His article itself is garbage. Its a red herring.

            I wouldnt know if I disareee with his article or not because he destroyed his credability on Windows 8 weeks ago.

            His hate of Windows 8 is absolutly blinding. He just simply hates it with a passion that makes no sense.

            He lost his ability to hold sway over sane peoples considerations ages ago.

            He makes zero effort to provide any reasoned balance to his articles, his claims about Windows 8 have repeatedly flown in the opposite direction of reality. You can say you dislike something and it dosnt serve your needs and explain why, once you make claims and predictions that have zero bearing on facts and reality...well, you show its more important to you to convince others to hate the same way you do than to ever admit to even an already established fact that tends to disagree with your personal dislkie.

            So, he may well be right. Who knows? WHo cares because there is no earthly way to tell by reading one of SJVN's articles on anything Windows 8 because when it comes to Windows 8 he has absolutly no credability and has long ago proved without a doubt that what ever he says about anything Windows 8 is just as likely to fly in the face of reality as to actually say anything at all accurate.
            Cayble
          • "Microsoft Proves (Again) That It Doesn’t Understand Marketing"

            "For those who say the price point makes sense because of USB ports and the ability to run x86 Legacy Apps, you are part of the problem. The mobile computing world is moving (has moved) far beyond that kind of thinking. We’re not talking horse and buggy vs automobiles just yet, but we’re damned close."

            -Warner Crocker
            http://www.gottabemobile.com/2012/11/30/microsoft-proves-again-that-it-doesnt-understand-marketing-with-surface-rt-and-surface-pro/
            gregv2k
          • Warner Crocker proves that he doesn't understand marketing...

            "For those who say the price point makes sense because of USB ports and the ability to run x86 Legacy Apps, you are part of the problem."

            No - we are part of the market. If customers (in other words, the market) demand these things, and vote for them with their collective wallet, then Microsoft got it right by adding these things. It doesn't matter that a bunch of pundits think that the technology is passe. The market demands it.
            daftkey