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In-depth first look: Microsoft's Surface for Windows 8 Pro

Tim Greene | Feb. 6, 2013
For those who don't like Windows 8, the 128GB version of the device has enough SSD space to run Windows 7 in its own partition.

Surface Pro comes in two models: 64GB SSD for $899; 128GB SSD for $999. That doesn't include either Touch ($120) or Type ($130), so the unit with keyboard could cost as much as $1,130.

That's a lot of money for a tablet, but if it's for a worker who uses both a tablet and a full desktop, it becomes more reasonable by eliminating the need for two devices. Plus Surface Pro runs any application that runs on Windows 7, so it supports whatever standard corporate application image is currently in use.

Also by virtue of running Windows 8, Surface Pro has better security than Windows 7 in a range of areas, including secure boot and two options for restoring machines to earlier versions if they get corrupted.

Windows 8 also supports Windows To Go, a full manageable image of a Windows 8 machine on a memory stick that can boot up the image on any Windows 8 or Windows 7 host. This means workers can carry their desktop in their pocket and work on it using borrowed devices.

Getting back to Surface Pro itself, a prop that Microsoft calls a kickstand pops out the back to hold the screen upright when Surface Pro is being used as a laptop. That increases the tabletop footprint of the device from 10.81 x 6.81 inches to 10.81 x 10 inches. A conventional laptop with a screen whose hinges hold it up could sit in the smaller space.

The device has front- and rear-facing 720p cameras for still and video photography and to support video calls like Skype. Because of the fixed angle of the screen where the front-facing camera is positioned, Microsoft has angled the lens to properly frame the user. But depending on how tall the user is, the height of the chair and the height of the desk, the user's image can be cropped.

The 1.7GHz Intel processor generates significant heat so Surface Pro is equipped with two fans that are vented through a thin slot that runs along all four sides of the edge. Microsoft says it has patented fan technology that taps into the device's accelerometer, which supplies information about what angle it's being held at and automatically optimizes the spinning of the fans to cool most effectively.

The fans are virtually inaudible in an office building whose HVAC system is running, but they can be heard. Despite the fans, when put under load the processor makes the whole unit noticeably warm anyway but not hot.


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