posted earlier today that there's currently a $100 rebate from Microsoft on the Surface Pro. That brings the price of the 64GB SSD model to $799 and the 128GB model to $899, though still without a Type Cover sadly (add another $129 for that). The rebate is set to run through August 29, or "until supplies last", but it seems more like a way to clear inventory in preparation for the launch of a Haswell based Surface Pro 2.

In our review of the Surface Pro six months ago, we concluded that it was one of the best executed tablet/laptop (taptablet, Ultra-tablet, etc.--feel free to make up your own name for this class of device) computers we had seen. The inclusion of an active stylus also opens the door for other use cases--Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik for instance loves his Surface Pro and it appears he has switched to using that for many of his comics. The two primary concerns with the original still remain, however: you don't get the Type Cover as part of the core package (and $129 is an awful lot for a cover that doesn't include any additional battery life), and more importantly the battery life is pretty poor for a tablet--five or six hours in our testing, compared to 10-13 on many higher quality tablets.

Now that the Haswell launch is behind us, we have a better idea of what to expect from the 4th Generation Intel processors, and most of what we expect is minor to moderate improvements in performance with dramatically improved battery life. So far, we've seen 6-13 hours out of the new MacBook Air 13, over eight hours on the updated Acer S7--nearly twice what the original S7 managed!--and even a mainstream laptop with a quad-core i7-4702MQ (and a larger battery) posted times of 4-9 hours with the MSI GE40. In fact, I've got an updated MSI GT70 with i7-4930XM and GTX 780M that's getting 4-6 hours in our battery life tests. When we look at power use of the Haswell ULT processors and consider what can be done with a 4.5W Haswell, the next Surface Pro could be a serious improvement over the original, at least as far as mobility goes.

I'd still like to see Microsoft include a Type Cover in the package, as otherwise you're getting an already expensive tablet and paying a hefty sum to add laptop functionality. Improving the battery life and getting the prices closer to the current "rebate pricing" would seal the deal I think. We'll have to wait to see what Microsoft actually releases, but in the meantime, if you're in a hurry to help clear out the Ivy Bridge inventory, feel free to take advantage of the current offer. Just don't be surprised to see a newer, better Surface Pro in the near future.

Source: Tech Report

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  • chizow - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    I can add an SSD, the screen and stylus support aren't worth $500 ($620 with TypePad) to me.
  • Visual - Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - link

    You really have to try using an active digitizer before you declare someone "crazy" you know...

    There have been tablet convertibles since before iPhones were even an idea, and until a year ago they were successfully getting sold at over 2k USD. Granted, not in huge mass-market volumes, but for some people they were worth it.

    Having that at around 1-1.2k now is a great price point, and even a lot of people that thought they didn't need "the touchscreen and the x86 CPU" would be converted if they could try it for a week... Just play some Eve Online or Civ 5 on it and see...
  • chizow - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    But you can surely see the usage demographic that would find that feature useful and worth the premium might overestimate market demand, right?
  • ITMedCEO - Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - link

    $599??? Come on now the Haswell chip by itself is $300. I think you are trying to make the Surface Pro to be a tablet. It is not a tablet only it is also a full PC. So, what would you pay for 2 separate devices??? If Microsoft meets us somewhere in the middle of adding the cost for both - we win!!!
  • chizow - Monday, August 5, 2013 - link

    Tiger Direct has the 800 & 900 price with no rebate.

    Still I'd like to see still cheaper versions starting at 600 with Haswell and Typepad and I'd get one for sure.
  • Impulses - Monday, August 5, 2013 - link

    I really don't understand the people that think the Surface Pro (with the Type Cover) should be priced lower than a high end ultrabook... It's effectively capable of doing everything an ultrabook/Air could, while being more versatile (at the cost of some battery life in it's current incarnation).

    I also realize the Surface Pro isn't for everyone tho, it certainly isn't for me... For the time being I'd rather just have an ultrabook and a cheaper/smaller Android tablet, but for certain people the Surface Pro can effectively replace both of those devices and I can definitely see the value in that.

    I don't think the Surface Pro form factor is ever gonna be the norm, but there's a ton of interesting dorm factors emerging right now. If anything, Surface RT is far worse of a value proposition IMO, even at reduced prices. Win RT was a stopgap, a way to pressure Intel.

    On the other hand, a next generation Atom/Kabini in the Surface RT form factor (with an x86 copy of Windows) at a <$500 price point would really shake things up and round out Microsoft's mobile strategy IMO. I don't see how the larger or high end ARM tablets could compete with that...

    This coming from someone who just bought a 2013 Nexus 7 and who's used an OG Transformer for two years now btw (which I only bought because I got it for $300 thanks to a $100 Staples discount, otherwise the first N7 would've probably been my 1st tablet).
  • chizow - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Well I think that is part of the problem. No wants an Ultrabook if it's going to cost them $1000 of their own money. Anyone who is willing to spend that kind of money is buying whatever flavor of MacBook suits them.

    The Surface Pro on the other hand is stuck in an awkward position. It's a lot like a tablet but clearly more powerful than the Android offerings and even the iPad offerings out there. But it's also getting pulled down toward those low-end Ultrabooks and 2-in-1s in that $500-600 range.

    Sit it somewhere in the middle, and I think you have a winner. But you still need to iterate and improve. Standardize the Typepad and include it, improve the battery life and thickness by replacing IVB with Haswell (can even be the same speed), make the base model 128GB SSD, and drop price to $800 and I think you have a real winner.

    Sure MS makes less per unit sold, but hey at least they will actually be selling units. And I am sure it is better than the current situation they face, writing off $1bn in Surface inventory, only to be forced to cut prices by $100 on dated tech at this point. Saw this coming months ago anyways, it's going to be hard to sell those IVB Pros even at $100 off at this point, and it's going to be hard to raise prices again when they are eventually forced to drop these to $600-700 to clear them out. Probably another big write down coming unless they already accounted for it in the $1bn.
  • pSupaNova - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Haswell based Surface Pro's are going to be a hard sell to consumers, because IOS and Android already fulfill most of the computing needs of modern day consumers while being very easy to use and needing very little maintenance.

    Microsoft should be pushing 7-8inch RT Tablets and using it excellent Gaming IP.

    ARM is Microsoft future in the tablet sector not x86.
  • name99 - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    MS has made three big mistakes in this arena. They have so far admitted (kinda, begrudgingly) to two - that no-one wants RT as it currently exists, and that no-one wants Win8 on tablets.

    The remaining admission they have yet to make is that, gee, it turns out Apple was right and touch screens ARE a bad idea on the desktop because it hurts your arm to constantly be raising it. (People experimenting with the LEAP motion controller have already made this point very publicly, but I've yet to see a Win8 supporter concede it.)

    MS being what they are, and unwilling to ever throw away a bad idea even if it was last useful in 1997, I expect the way this will play out is a scramble to release a Windows 9 which will retain (till the end of time!) the option for touch on the desktop, but with no-one ever actually using it. (And internally the Office team will gloat about how they were right, and sensible not to waste time supporting it --- so much for "One Microsoft".)
    Less clear what the future of Metro on the desktop is. My guess is it will be relegated to the same sort of role as Silverlight and .Net --- you can click on Metro apps and they'll run, but once again MS won't be making a big deal about it as the future of Windows. (To give a non-MS analogy, like Dashboard on OSX, which I actually find pretty useful, but which Apple seems to have abandoned as a failed experiment.)

    The interesting part of Win 9, of course, will be what they decide to do for tablets.
    I have no idea how that will play out. Double down on Win RT? Or give up there and accept that the only person who will buy a Windows tablet is someone who wants to run specific x86 Windows software on it? Both these options suffer from the fact that they result in tremendous overhead (on storage, in RAM, in energy) compared to iOS and Android, which are both willing to cut out whatever is less than appropriate on a tablet (like paging). MS seems to be hoping it can just power through, that they keep things going until the costs (in storage and RAM) no longer matter, and we've hit a point where paging is a sensible tradeoff on these devices. Maybe they'll make it?

    Their third option is to accept that both these choices suck and really copy Apple --- move Win Phone 8 up to the tablet. THAT is the interesting possibility. WIll they have the guts to admit so much of a failure (and tacitly admit that Windows 8 is too bloated)?
    IMHO this is the sensible solution. It allows Win8 to go back to what it was adequate at --- sitting on the desktops of Fortune 500 companies, filled with APIs that connect to various servers and databases, filled with hooks to allow for rapidly written in-house software. Simultaneously it gives Win Phone8 a larger base and thus software authors slightly more of a target. It's not a great solution --- because MS has wasted five years, first in denial about the iPhone, then in denial about the iPad, then in denial about what people actually want from both their tablets and their desktops --- but it's the best plan I see going forward.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    I'd buy a Zenbook over an Air right now, I think certain ultrabook models are perfectly competitive... I don't think Apple has a lock on the $1,000+ laptop price point.

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