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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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Why do they need Kabini? The only reason would be to get the price $100 lower, but it would also deliver half the performance. Kabini is only somewhat faster than the current Atom offerings (not even 2x faster in most cases), and Silvermont will basically beat out Kabini when it launches. But both of those are really going up against high-end ARM offerings, whereas the Haswell ULT parts are 2-3 times faster and can easily handle full Windows apps. Kabini could be okay in a new Surface RT type device (only with full Windows, not RT), but it wouldn't be a good fit for the Pro -- "Here's the new Surface Pro, with less performance than the original Surface Pro but a $100 lower price!"
  • JPForums - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    For a minute there, I thought I disagreed with you, but then you said "it wouldn't be a good fit for the Pro". I totally agree that Kabini is a bad fit for the Surface Pro. I always thought a Kabini or Silvermont based Surface x86 would be nice. I'm pretty sure the price difference between the Pro and x86 versions would be more than $100. Atoms are somewhat price competitive with ARM offerings and I rarely see AMD in a position of charging a premium over Intel. Granted they would use a higher end Silvermont or Kabini, but that shouldn't change the overall cost very much. They may have to sacrifice some extras like (unfortunately) the Wacom digitizer, but I see no reason why they couldn't use a nicer display than the RT. I could see the price stratum falling into place at $350-$400 for Surface RT, around $600 for the x86, and say $900 for the Pro. I do think they would be in a better position if they at least offered keyboards with additional batteries and/or port expanders. The current offerings could still be sold at a lower price point. Given the price of android keyboards with touchpad, batteries, and sometimes extra ports, I don't see any reason why this can't be done. That said, I'll still pay extra if the quality justifies it.
  • mrdude - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    People are suggesting cheaper chips because of the biggest issue with Microsoft's Surface lineup: price. There's little doubt that Intel takes the largest share of the BoM in the Surface tablet.

    I think Microsoft needs to address a plethora of other factors before they can get to the hardware aspect. For example, they're OS is still far too bloated and requires a higher capacity drive for storage. Microsoft isn't giving you 64GB because they want you to have the extra space, but because that's pretty much the bare minimum for one of these things once you install just a few applications. Likewise, the performance/processor issue is the same. Win8/Metro was often too heavy for the Tegra 3 and the legacy landscape requires a costly Intel processor in order to be viable as a laptop and/or tablet.

    The whole "it's an Ultrabook" argument only holds water if Ultrabooks themselves were selling well. But if I recall correctly, Intel has had to slash its sales figures every year since they've introduced the platform, and laptop sales are still being cannibalized by tablets.

    People want cheap small tablets and they don't give a damn about x86 and Win32/legacy support on said cheap tablets. Microsoft, and consequently Intel, need to seriously rethink their approach here.
  • kyuu - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    I'm not saying they should have Kabini *instead* of Haswell, but in addition. Kabini's performance is more than good enough for most people's usage, and I'm quite sure it'll shave more than $100 off the price. Intel isn't selling Haswell for cheap.
  • kyuu - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Basically, I'm thinking three tiers of Surface: Surface RT with whatever ARM flavor, Surface "Lite" with Kabini (or possibly even Temash, depending on how MS wants to prioritize battery/performance) in the $500-600 range for people who want full Windows but don't need expensive Intel silicon, and Surface Pro with Haswell.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    That'd be great, if their two existing tiers were even selling to begin with. I think RT just goes away eventually to be replaced by Kabini/new Atom variants... Has the RT Surface sold any better than the Pro despite the lower price and larger discounts?

    Ultimately they may just come to the realization that not a lot of people want a 10" converge device... Just like the ultrabook market is sorta nichey. A 10" hybrid device (specially the beefier Pro) ends up being too cramped for serious work and too large/heavy for light media consumption.

    The number of people that are really better off with a laptop and a tablet in one device is just not that large IMO. Specially as prices for low end ARM tablets continue to fall and people continue to be willing to compromise with low res laptops with poor build quality (good laptops in and of itself aren't a mass market game).
  • ddriver - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    According to the benchmark here on anand, Kabini is about twice as fast as a current gen atom in single threaded Cinebench, THREE times faster multithreaded, a little below 2 times faster in 7ZIP benchmark, over twice as fast on Kraken, OVER TEN times faster in 3D Mark Physics, about NINE times faster in Graphics, WHOOPING SIXTEEN times faster in GL/DXBenchmark.

    Obviosly, Kabini offers a considerable performance improvement over current atoms, even Bay Trail will only match about the same performance as Kabini, while GPU will likely be worse.

    So all in all, a Kabini based surface is a good idea, considering AMD chips have much lower profit margins, they are still better than atoms and comparable to cheapest i3 processors while being even cheaper.
  • Krysto - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Unlikely. Haswell is at least $100 more expensive than IVB, so there's that. At best they'll manage to maintain the $900 price.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Haswell can basically target the same prices as Ivy Bridge. It's just the OEMs taking more profit that would increase the price, but since MS can put Windows on the Surface for free it's not as much of a problem to lower the price. I'm okay with the original price points, though, as long as the Haswell variant either: includes the keyboard, doubles the SSD size (so the 64GB model becomes 128GB and the 128GB becomes 256GB), or find some other way to make the new model more compelling other than Haswell improving battery life.
  • chizow - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    $100 more expensive based on what data? Intel almost always slots in the new successor chips in the same performance bracket at the same price points. There's a lot of fat (or Mg) that needs to be trimmed on Surface, those visions of 50-60% margins need to come back down to reality.

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