Earlier we said it was pointless buying a Surface Pro without one of the two covers. But which should you buy?
The Touch Cover (£99), which comes in a range of flamboyant colours and relies on touch sensitive keys rather than mechanical ones, works much better than you first imagine. With a little practice you’ll build up a decent pace with good accuracy.
But it has two important failings: one, the touchpad segment feels slow and sluggish to use; and two, even after a couple of weeks use it was already showing signs of wear. Another reason to avoid the Touch Cover is an ongoing, and very irritating, random muting bug when using one.
The Type Cover (£109), meanwhile, while more expensive, is slightly nicer to type on and has a smoother, low-friction touchpad with proper buttons rather than touch zones.
Given the price difference is so small and there's no difference in weight (both weigh a shade over 200g) we recommend the Type Cover.
There is so much to commend the Surface Pro, but for most people the answer is no. The simple truth is it’s neither a great tablet nor a great laptop replacement. The battery life is too poor by either standard, and it’s too heavy and noisy for a full-time tablet.
Neither is it great value. The 64GB version is no good as it leaves so little space to use. That leaves the £799 128GB version, which is really £910 once you add a Type Cover. You could buy an iPad 4 and a decent, small laptop for the same price, and maybe have enough left over for a keyboard cover.
As for the best Surface Pro alternatives, we’ve yet to find a Windows 8 hybrid that stands the test. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and its Intel Atom processor has better battery life and includes a well integrated digitizer pen, but it’s too slow for serious desktop use. The HP Envy x2, another 10-inch tablet/laptop, has the same problem.
The closest convertible laptop is the innovative Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S and the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, its 13-inch sibling. If a Windows 8 hybrid is what you’re after, we’d start there, or wait for future Surface Pro updates with Intel Haswell processors that promise much improved efficiency.
The Surface Pro hints at genius but implodes under the weight of its own ambition. But the potential is plain to see. It’s a welcome and compelling alternative to an Apple and Google dominated future. Make it lighter and last longer, however, and Microsoft could have a winner on its hands in future.
Now read about the Surface Pro 2: Microsoft Surface Pro 2 review