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+ - my surface pro 128 review

Submitted by Angturil
Angturil (1276488) writes "This is my first review/impression of the surface pro 128 after one full day of use. Its coming from a biased perspective. I'm a windows 7 user, with a heavy bent on command prompts and keyboard use. I'm also an ipad 3 owner (now being enjoyed by my wife... permanently).

I reserved it online at Futureshop at 2am. Picked it up at store opening. There were only 2 128's available at most of the stores. The local best buys had no 128's.

First impressions:

It feels heavy compared to the ipad 3, even though its technically only 300g more, its noticeable... Though after the initial shock, its completely usable, and I stopped noticing the extra weight.

Its warm... it started off warm, and never really cooled down during my tests... But it never got hot either, just a steady warmth much appreciated in midwinter. In comparison, the ipad3 almost never gets warm during regular use, excepting some 3d games.

The surface is fast... everything I ran was very responsive. All applications popped. I connected to my QNAP Nas and proceeded to install my core software suite. That included office 2013, Visual studio 2012, Corel Draw X6, Painter 12 Steam (and 4-5) games, Subversion, some vpn software. All this stuff installed in under 2 hours — and used up about 40% of my battery time. System was responsive throughout, and I was able to test stuff while this was going on with no apparent slowdowns.

Disk space. about 96 gigs free. I uninstalled office image, and ended up over 100. I added a 64 gig micro sd card for $60, though haven't had to use it yet. Tons of room, After installing all my tools and some games, I had 35 gig free.
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I did not buy the keyboard cover (they didn't have it at the local stores). All my testing was done in tablet mode using finger or pen.

Input in tablet mode has 3 modes (at first). 2 on screen keyboards, and one handwriting recognition pad that uses the pen.
Keyboard 1 is like the ipad, alpha keys, with an alternate button for numbers/symbols.
Keyboard 2 is split left qwerty, middle num pad right, uiop clusters. And lets you type numbers.
at this point, I was upset, at least until I found a hidden setting for activating the extended keyboard!
keyboard 3 is... A full extended keyboard. It takes the same space as they others roughly, but has all the keys and symbols, including arrow keys! This made my day! WTF its not visible by default, I have no clue.
armed with the third keyboard, I was able to quickly create a new project and vs2012 and run c++ code in minutes.

the surface pro is a full fledged pc. Everything development related worked, and fast. The ssd was faster than my dell xps1702's, and projects build 30-40% faster.

Ok, back to regular use stuff...

The metro UI/swipes took a while to get used to. its pretty responsive, but did get a few false positives for some gestures... (ie: trying to swipe right-left too near the right edge resulted in the little right side bar popping up from time to time). Many of the swipe gestures can be configured though, and after I time... I stopped doing things that weren't working well :)

The mini applets were fast, easy to install and use. The whole app/metro experience was actually really good. Many apps actually felt more intuitive or better than their ipad counterparts. The touch ie was great too.

Now, I have some complaints...

There are actually 2 ie's! (WTF).. The touch ie works great in a touch environment, but if you accidentally? launch ie from the desktop, you get a different version... which has the old interface you know and love, and does NOT respond the same way... Keyboard doesn't pop up automatically when you go search, etc. (note, you can still bring it up, its just an extra click). It felt a bit sloppy.

Old windows apps work just fine, but (understandably) do not offer the same polished , seamless experience as the metro apps.

The kindle version does not look as sharp, or have all the features of the ipad version. Why? The acrobat pdf viewer is also not as sharp as it could be. It tends to scale images poorly. Chalk it up to early win 8 development, I guess, since other software has no such issues.

Games... I had some issues with dx 10-11 titles not working/freezing on load. Not sure what's up with that, might be the intel 4000 drivers.

In the end of the day, after heavy installs and testing, I ended up running for just over 290 mins before the 5% warning made me take a break. Within an hour or so, it was back to 60% power. This thing charges fast. This is more than adequate for my use pattern (6-10 hours a day, allowing some charging occasionally).

Oh yeah, the pen... Its awesome. I tried it in painter, corel draw and some applets that I d'led for free. There's a tiny bit of lag, but you can certainly do free form media brush work. If you stick to more basic pens, the lag disappears and you can do free form drawing. This is much like a wacom cintiq experienece... and cheaper. Big thumbs up.
Also... when running high res apps on the small screen, you can use the pen to easily do precision work that's impossible with the finger. It makes a decent mouse replacement.
I do have one complaint... The pen attaches to the charger plugs (no it does not use batteries), which means you have to let the pen sit loose/forget it when power is attached.

The kickstand... its built in, solid, and an easy 10/10. I used it on a desk or when reading in bed. While I do not have the keyboard atm, I think that using this on your lap as a notebook would actually work fine. The keyboard's weight coupled with the mostly stable stand/heavy unit should be viable.

After one day of use, I find the extra power of having all my pc stuff coupled with the ease of use of some tablet'ish apps to be hard to give up. I'm not going back to the ipad (not that my wife would ever let me now... ).

The surface pro is a superb product, and while its not perfect, its currently as close to it as you can get... till surface 2 comes out anyway. 8.5/10.

Wish list: Slightly thinner and lighter. One more usb port. Full SDHC (rather than micro). 256 gig ssd, and 8gigs of ram for version 2.0 please! And yes, we all want a bit more battery life."
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my surface pro 128 review

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