Image: Microsoft


Here at D-Tools, the thought of a mobile app has appealed to us for a long time. We are currently developing our iOS app for the iPad, but with the price of admission for the Microsoft Surface Pro recently dropping to $900 dollars we figured we’d give it a shot, and yes, we are very glad we did.

It has been a long time since a device has made me ask the question “what is a PC?” Although the Microsoft Surface Pro looks like a tablet, it is a long stretch away from the conventional tablet-styled device: the Pro version, which we will be testing and reviewing, runs full Windows 8 which makes it a big step up from the Surface RT. And with its ability to run native Windows apps such as Outlook and Visio, the Surface Pro will be a natural fit for SIX 2013. Featuring a gorgeous 10.6” Full HD Display screen wrapped in a clean black bezel, an Intel Core i5 Processor and 128GB of storage, Microsoft’s new tablet has the guts (and grunt) of a fully-functional laptop. Let’s get started.

Upon receiving the Surface Pro, it is clear that Microsoft has taken a tip or two from Apple’s uber-clean packaging style. Featuring a basic design, simple color scheme and tight fitting sleeves, the Surface Pro is easy to unbox and quick to get started with. The box features three separate pieces: the Surface Pro, the charger, and pen. The charger magnetically snaps itself into the port, and when you’re not juicing the device up, the stylus locks into the same spot. One small thing to note about the 48W power supply is the integrated USB port for accessory charging – nice touch, Microsoft!

Picking up the device, the first thing I noticed was the weight of the tablet. Coming in at 907g (2lbs), it’s quite a bit heavier than the iPad and much beefier. Surprising, but quickly forgivable when you keep in mind this is more of a MacBook Air competitor than an iPad challenger. Featuring Microsoft’s “VaporMg” shell, the magnesium alloy backing feels extremely sturdy and magnificently cool to the touch, which is a great change from Apple’s aluminum backing. Much like the packaging, the Surface Pro is smooth and tightly constructed zero torsional flex; with its’ gently curved corners and completely black face, you can’t help but mutter “this is a nice device.”

Getting a full look at the device, small features such as the top vents lining up with the integrated kickstand add to its visual appeal. The left side of the Surface Pro features a headset jack, volume controls and full-size USB 3.0, while the right side has a microSDXC card slot, charge port and mini DisplayPort. On the front and back of the tablet are two 720p HD cameras which record picture and video.

 Image: Microsoft

Microsoft offers two types of keyboard for the Surface, the Touch and Type, which come separate but are completely necessary to get the full experience from the device. Both are very thin and lightweight, offer a mouse and function as a protective cover. Connecting with a satisfactory ‘snap’ (we know you’ve seen the commercials) the Type cover features a QWERTY keyboard with a full row of function keys. The keyboard works as well as you would assume, but the real star of the show is the handwriting recognition which is surprisingly accurate and useful.

So far, this is a fantastic tablet offering users the right mix of relaxation and productivity. Thank you for reading the first part of our Surface Pro review – stay tuned for the next parts featuring more details on the hardware/user interface and the installation and use of D-Tools SIX 2013 in a mobile setting.