First reviews of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet hit the web

MS surface pro

After years of sitting on the sidelines, Microsoft entered the modern tablet space late last year with the Surface RT. And although it sparked a lot of initial interest, it failed to translate that into sales, with reports claiming it didn’t fair very well over the holidays.

But alas, the Redmond company has a second shot at greatness with its new Surface Pro tablet. And it too has stirred up quite a bit of commotion, with some pundits deeming it a possible iPad/Macbook Air killer. But will this MS slate actually live up to the hype this time?

Late last night, Microsoft lifted the embargo on its Surface Pro tablet, effectively unleashing dozens of pre-launch reviews from hand-picked tech bloggers. As usual, opinions are fairly mixed, depending on the writer. But there is one recurring theme: compromise.

Engadget: Microsoft Surface Pro review

“The Surface Pro comes about as close as we’ve yet experienced, but it’s still compromised at both angles of attack. When trying to be productive, we wished we had a proper laptop and, when relaxing on the couch, we wished we had a more finger-friendly desktop interface — though more native Windows 8 apps might solve the problem by keeping us from having to even go there.

That it offers compatibility with the massive back-catalog of Windows apps gives this a strong leg up over the earlier Surface RT, but the thickness, heft and battery life are big marks against.”

The Wall Street Journal: Surface Pro: Hefty Tablet Is a Laptop Lightweight

“But just as the Pro is compromised as a tablet, it’s compromised as a laptop. You get fewer ports and less storage than on many laptops and a keyboard that can’t compare with those on many laptops.

Some users may not mind the price or bulk of the Surface Pro if it frees them from carrying a tablet for some uses and a laptop for others. But like many products that try to be two things at once, the new Surface Windows 8 Pro does neither as well as those designed for one function.”

The Verge: Microsoft Surface Pro review

“Sure, it’s heavier and thicker than the Surface RT and has frustratingly poor battery life, but it’s worth both the tradeoff and the extra expense. If you’re going to buy a Surface, buy the Surface Pro. Period. (And buy the 128GB model.) But if you’re going to buy a $900 tablet, get the decked-out iPad with LTE and 128GB of storage, and if you’re going to buy a Windows laptop, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga or the Dell XPS 12. Which leads me back to the same question Josh asked about the Surface RT: who is this for?

Even a well-executed Surface still doesn’t work for me, and I’d bet it doesn’t work for most other people either.”

Time: Review: Microsoft Surface Pro, the Surface That’s More PC Than Tablet

“I’m not arguing that Surface with Windows 8 Pro is a machine without a market. If you equip it with an external display, keyboard and mouse, it becomes a serviceable desktop PC, and if you stick to Windows 8 apps, it may be the best Windows 8 tablet so far. If I were shopping for an Ultrabook and my budget allowed, I’d consider it. But used with the applications I tried, Surface Pro doesn’t prove that one computing device can do everything well. Instead, it makes clear that there’s no such thing as no-compromise computing.

That’s not the lesson Microsoft intended, but it’s a useful one nonetheless — for consumers, for the industry and maybe even for Microsoft.”

It’s also worth noting that reviewers had some nice things to say about the Surface Pro as well. For example, most of them seemed to be really impressed by its display and the included stylus. And they really liked the idea behind the Type Cover keyboard accessory.

But in all of the reviews I read through, I couldn’t find a single one that ended with “I recommend this tablet” or “I’m going to be buying this tablet.” Most of them, in fact, wrapped up with statements like “it’s a cool idea, but it’s just not there yet,” or something similar.

Obviously, the final word on the Surface Pro depends on you and what you’re looking for in a device. And for those of you who are interested, the tablet goes on sale this weekend with a starting price tag of $899.

What are your thoughts on the Surface Pro after reading through some of these reviews?