Microsoft’s $1000 Surface Pro vs. competition: Finding the best deal

Microsoft’s Surface Pro is the Surface RT’s bigger brother. When the latter debuted last October to a mostly lukewarm reception, many users looked to the Surface Pro’s January 2013 release to fulfill all the promise Microsoft has claimed Windows 8 and the new hardware will provide. But how well does it compete with similar computers in the $1000 price range?

The RT’s sluggish adoption rate was largely due to a processor (ARM) which was incapable of running Intel-based software, like the nearly 40 years of software Microsoft has offered before it. There were other sacrifices made in order to better compete in the tablet/ultrabook niche, like smaller storage and fewer connection options.

PCWorld.com has a fairly comprehensive review of the available options:

Looks can be deceiving, and that’s definitely the case with Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Pro tablet. At first glance, the Surface Pro seems barely different than the Surface RT. Thicker, sure, but a casual once-over could miss that detail, and it otherwise mimics the size and aesthetic of its ARM-powered predecessor.

Scratching that VaporMg surface reveals a whole different story, however. The Surface Pro might appear to be a simple tablet on the outside, but its insides are pure Ultrabook, sporting notebook-grade internals and connection options. The tablet also sports an Ultrabook-esque price tag, starting at $899—and that’s before you spend another $120 or $130 for a must-have Touch or Type Cover.

All in all, you’re likely to drop at least $1020 on Microsoft’s flagship tablet.

Comparing the Surface Pro against mainstream tablets seems a bit like comparing apples to oranges when you take all that into consideration. So how does Microsoft’s slate stack up to its true competition? We decided to pit the Surface Pro’s specs against five of the best laptops you can pick up for around $1000 to find out.

First, the Surface Pro is profiled in order to provide a baseline against the others. Next, the following smaller-sized laptops are reviewed: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13; Alienware M14x; Apple MacBook Air (11.6″); Lenovo IdeaPad U410; Lenovo ThinkPad Twist. Only the first and last models, both by Lenovo, offer the same combination of tablet and Ultrabook as the Surface Pro. So that’s something to consider (is the tablet function important to you?), as is deciding, for example, whether to go forward with Windows 8 or give OS X a try with the MacBook Air.

Apple has been very good over the years at introducing products with features that sometimes are a bit different, or might not be exactly what people are looking for…then, the company demonstrates why you’d want those features, and how they’ll benefit you.

Microsoft would do well to try and imitate an approach like this one. It’s often not enough these days to simply release technology and let users have at it…when you’ve got a product that promises to be as innovative as the Surface Pro, you’ve got to find and exploit the reasons people would want to pay more money for most of the same features as your competitors.

In the face of it, that’s part of what’s worked so well for Apple.

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2 thoughts on “Microsoft’s $1000 Surface Pro vs. competition: Finding the best deal

  1. A product that does less than its predessors is not progress, it’s backsliding. For $1000 it should do everything it’s forefathers did, and more. I see no reason to buiy ANY 8 product and I am as anti-Apple as they come, which doesn’t mean I drink the Microsoft KoolAid unconditionally.

    • Thank you for your comment. It’s great to hear from someone who is admittedly far from being an Apple fan, but is still unhappy with the direction Microsoft is headed with Windows 8.

      Too many times, such comments are dismissed as being simply anti-platform (i.e. “I use OS X, and Windows sucks!”). You’re a Windows fan–just not of THIS version of Windows.

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