"Excellent tablet, average laptop - all in one!"4.5 starson by generalgallina
Pros: -Light, portable, great form factor
-Gorgeous hardware receives compliments in cafes
-Perhaps the best symbiosis between Windows 8 and any hardware
-Effective for quick browsing yet is fantastic for a project/work
-Beautiful screen res.
Cons: -Hard to use as a laptop on a lap, the stand isn't sturdy enough to balance on knees. In other words, this device isn't comfortable to use on its own on a couch, you'll need a surface for your Surface.
-Only available in 1 screen size
Summary: I'm an IT professional w/ 15 years of experience under my belt. I've seen hardware come and go. Everything was promised to be a revolution. In general, the trend line has been towards immense progress. Many bad technologies have been cast aside for one reason or another. However, I do believe that this machine is an incredible leap forward. There are precious few kinks to work out.
Fortunately, Microsoft seems to be working hard on an upgrade that will be free and automatic for all users of Windows 8. If the upgrade is in any way similar to the beta I've been testing, then the software kinks will be a thing of the past. (ie., hard to find menus, can't boot to a desktop, etc)
The only two outstanding problems I see with the Surface are:
A) you can't use his as a laptop on your couch without a flat tray or other piece of hardware to support your Surface. We have a couple of dinner trays near the couch ('merica!) that now double as a flat surface for our Surface. Like an iPad, the Surface is never too far away from our living room couches. I do hope that a future hardware revision to the Surface would somehow account for this. To be FAIR - there's not a single tablet in the market that is sold with a built-in stand at all, so I'm criticizing a feature that doesn't even exist in the competition.
B) This device only comes in one size. Now, you might think I'm nitpicking, but this is actually a problem. Many enterprise applications are rendered in a specific, unchangeable size, which is truly the developer's fault. However, the 10" display on the Surface makes these applications basically unreadably small. This forces the user to constantly zoom in and out of the applications. While this is largely an issue shared between the Surface and the iPad v5, completely blamed on the 3rd party software companies, and not terribly resolvable any time soon...it's something that would be resolved by a >14" screen size since that's the 3rd party developer's expectations when they build and test their software.
There are almost too many positives to mention.
A)FORM FACTOR! Like I said earlier, this device is revolutionary. It's in the kitchen displaying a recipe for baked steelhead trout, another recipe for grilled polenta and yet another for gorgonzola encrusted asparagus while playing classical music. It then moves with us into the family room for my 1y.o. daughter to play "Animal Noises" with, then it's used to put her to bed while we read Dr. Seuss books from our Amazon Kindle app. Then, it's used to VPN into work or use Citrix to file a few notes before bed. Then, it's used to show a little HBO Go or to use our Netflix app to catch up on the How I Met Your Mother. This could not be accomplished with one device if it weren't so capable.
B) COMPATIBILITY! This thing plugs into a USB docking station and 2 external monitors when I work from home. It accesses my DLNA music collection over my home network. It uses my wifi printers, a Bluetooth keyboard and an external USB drive with absolutely no issues. It even found and installed all the drivers for me when I plugged it in. It even found and installed the printers on my network before I asked it to do so. It just works. This is huge for Microsoft. Things usually don't JUST work.
C) WORK! This machine does everything for me. I can connect to work, run all of the applications at work and use things like MS Office, Adobe Photoshop, 3 different browsers. I even encrypted the hard drive with hard drive encryption software so that, if it were stolen, it'd be a pretty looking brick.
D) HD SCREEN! I love the fact that this thing dazzles with multimedia. Getting a true HD screen in a laptop is a very expensive proposition even today, with a MacBook or very high end laptop necessary. Sure, the iPad has better screen resolution, but this screen seems brighter and smoother in comparison. Did I mention it's compatible with just about every format of video, every modern game, etc?
In Summary, I'd love to see where they go with this device. I'm remarkably impressed. In fact, so much so that this is my first product review on CNET in 15 years.