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Anthony Trudeau

I’ve been anticipating the launch of the Microsoft Surface tablet since it was first announced. Unfortunately, I was let down and had to wait longer when the release announcement for the RT was made. It meant several more months to wait for the Surface Pro which would run the applications I need and want to run. I need a computer and not just a toy. An Apple iPad would be sufficient if a toy was what I wanted.

At that time not buying a Surface wasn’t a consideration. But, doubt crept in over time as can happen. I didn’t really pay too much attention to the launch of the Surface RT. Though, I remember hearing enough negativity to give me pause. And I was still a little sore about having to wait so much longer. And as it turns out the Pro wasn’t really worth the wait.

Let me clarify that before the hate mail starts pouring in. There’s plenty to like about the Surface Pro. However, this is not a review it’s a discussion on why I didn’t buy it. I spent a good deal of time playing with it at my local store. It’s certainly heavy and I think it would be uncomfortable holding it in one hand for a long period of time. But, giving what it does I feel it’s acceptable. I wish I would have been able to spend time with the digitizer pen, but my local store didn’t have one included with the display model. They don’t even carry the 128GB model. Those are two facts, not to mention general availability, that saved me from an impulse buy.

One of the major things I heard mentioned was the remaining storage space available. That wasn’t a factor for me, because I know the number is more marketing than anything. ZDNet has a good article that puts the storage space issue into perspective titled, “Surface Pro versus Macbook Air: Who’s being dishonest with storage space?” My reasons for not purchasing a Surface Pro can be stated succinctly, “it’s all about the battery.”

The first review I read indicated the battery life to be somewhere in the neighborhood of five hours. Not good. But, not terrible considering the capabilities of the tablet. The drain demonstrated by the demo model I used at my local store seemed to indicate that I would get more like four and half hours. I had to consider that the demo was not connected to a network; and I wasn’t doing anything other than watching a few short (less than 30 second) demo videos that would cause excessive drain. I don’t want to know what something like Visual Studio or Photoshop would do for the battery life.

The straw though was the teardown article written by ifixit. The article makes it clear that Microsoft didn’t make a battery change serviceable. This means a $1,000 computer has a planned obsolescence of a couple of years. This is not a couple of hundred dollar toy. I find it very troubling that Microsoft is taking more and more plays out of Apple’s playbook.

There are other things that weighed down on my decision. For instance, the price of the touch pad and application side-loading are important. I could side-load desktop applications on the Surface Pro, but I would need Windows 8 Enterprise to side-load Metro-style applications. That’s not a deal breaker in of itself, because I am an MSDN Premium subscriber. But, it’s indicative of another restriction that stinks a lot like Apple.

I sincerely hope that Microsoft improves the battery life and makes it serviceable (even if that’s a reasonable factory service fee). I will more than likely buy one if they do. I may even buy a Surface RT in the future for my daughter. In my opinion this is another failed launch for a product that had a lot of potential.

Posted on Sunday, February 17, 2013 12:16 PM hardware | Back to top

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