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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  • PNN - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Are ultrabooks supposed to be "improved laptops"? They don't even feature full voltage CPU's! How could they be faster than standard laptops with i5/i7/qc-i7 CPU's?

    I think of ultrabooks as lightweight, thin, small (<14) laptops. One step ahead of tablets (my 2012 MBA is the perfect tablet-replacement), but one step behind laptops.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    They're more laptop (more powerful) than most people need tho, OTOH most people don't appreciate a decent keyboard or build and are happy to spend $600 on a mediocre screen they'll probably live with for 2-3 years... Complacency is a big part of the reason for slow ultrabook sales. Apple can make a fancy ad where they pull a MBA out of an envelope tho and suddenly they make it sexy and worth having...
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    As someone who has just come back from holiday where I took both a tablet (rooted Nook HD+) and an ultrabook I believe MS have misunderstood the market completely.

    My tablet is 9" (I also have an old 10.1" notebook). It is fine for gaming, movies, ebooks, email and short documents. But it is not something I can do serious work on. If I need to amend up a document of more than a few pages (or a spreadsheet of more than a few columns) I fire up the ultrabook.

    Maybe because I am getting old and my eyesight is not as good as in years gone by (or too much red wine on holiday) but I just cannot do serious work on a screen of less than 13" (Mac is wonderful).

    So the surface pro is a dud for me. Powerful enough to be useful for work but too small a screen to be functional for serious work. Yet overpriced and with too poor a battery life to be useful as a general entertainment device with light work abilities
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    I think a ton of people would share that view, specially amongst enthusiasts and professionals who would pay $1K for an ultrabook or convertible (the rest of the market isn't even willing to pay that much for either anyway).

    I know Anand was pretty bullish about devices like the Pro potentially replacing both a tablet and a laptop, but he's IN that very niche market that would actually WANT that (very mobile users, students, etc).

    I think a lot of people would opt for the increased ergonomics of separate dedicated devices. Not like a Nexus 7 + a decent ultrabook/MBA would cost significantly more.
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Yeah I kinda agree. My hope for surface-like devices involves a docking station to meet my use cases. If you are always on the go with nowhere to dock then I don't think a 10" screen will ever cut it for document editing/creation.
  • flyingpants1 - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    I agree. I think there are 4 main categories of device: phone (5"), tablet (7-10"), laptop (13-15"), PC (19-27"+). Trying to cross categories and do everything... just means you end up getting more things wrong. Changing screen size while still trying to maintain usability. And terrible battery life..

    OTOH, Intel is targetting $400 Convertibles with Silvermont.
  • kyuu - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Can't disagree more. I have no desire to constantly switch between a tablet and laptop when it's perfectly feasible to have a convergence device.
  • flyingpants1 - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    But not feasible for all, because a 10" screen does not suit everyone as an everyday machine or even a main laptop. And that's why the Surface is a niche product.

    Meanwhile you can easily get a cheap 14" ultrabook with the same CPU in the Surface, and a real keyboard, AND 7" tablet for less than $670 on Amazon right now. You can just take the tablet when you want to mess around or on long train rides and leave the giant laptop at home. No sense in paying $1029 for one device, unless you have money to burn. Did I mention niche product?
  • chizow - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    I think a lot of people would agree with this also, but they also aren't willing to pay $1000+ for the privilege. I think Intel is getting the idea though as there are a ton of 2-in-1 convergence devices slated to launch for ~$600 later this year. Maybe then Microsoft will realize Surface Pro isn't going to gain any traction at $1000+120.
  • gillisr - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    As others have mentioned, your use profile determines if the Pro is worth the you. Here is a profile where it is perfect.

    --55 year old PhD student, constantly shuttling between home, school, library, classrooms, meetings.
    --lots and lots of professional reading--pdf's, e-books, electronic textbooks, etc.
    --need to run high end statistical package in class and in meetings (SPSS, for those of you who know what it is)
    --create and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations
    --make presentations
    --run full-blown Adobe Creative Suite
    --kids need gaming machine at night and on weekends
    --and so on

    I was a high school teacher and watched students struggle with electronic documents/books. They did not like switching windows back and forth, either on a desktop or on a laptop. Sure, they could do it, but they didn't like it.

    Enter the Surface Pro. Download the teacher's powerpoint presentation, take notes right on the slides with the stylus. Organize every lecture in a One-Note file. Take pictures of demonstrations with the built in camera, then add them to One-Note. Pick up and move on to the next class.

    The key for me was realizing that this device is built for a second screen. At home I use an old 17" monitor, at school I use a GeChic OnLap monitor. You do not realize how much more productive you can be with the statistics program open on one monitor and the document you are preparing open on the Surface Pro. Others in my classes are amazed at how such a seemingly simple change makes a huge difference in productivity. And, the Surface Pro charging brick has a USB port, so the monitor draws power from the brick, not the battery, and I have a DisplayPort to HDMI connect to the monitor without having to worry about USB drivers.

    Could someone do all these things with a laptop? Sure. Can they fit the laptop and a second monitor in their backpacks? My friends with MacBooks don't have the extra room in their packs, and my load is much lighter. Could someone do the same things with iOS or Android tablets. No. I tried using a good Android tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard to take notes in class. It just wasn't the same. Could someone else adapt to the limited functionality of Office-like suites on a tablet? I guess so. But I do not need to transfer files from the tablet to my laptop or desktop, and the program environment is the same wherever I go. I found that to be very important after a semester or two. And no, Google Docs does not work well enough across platforms for me and my group members.

    So, there you go. The Surface Pro meets my use profile perfectly. I am more productive than other students with laptops or tablets. I don't struggle with document/program compatibility. And my kids love it for Netflix.

    Oh, and I haven't run into a situation yet where I did not have access to an outlet for a period greater than 4 hours. I don't know what kinds of jobs people have, but every meeting room, classroom, library room, and study area that I visit has somewhere to plug in.

    I wish the price would come down, but after 6 months of use I feel I am getting value for my money.

    Your opinion may vary.

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