The new Microsoft Surface Pro, running Windows 8 and with an optional Type Cover keyboard, is turning out to be an interesting option for users examining the tablet vs laptops battle. The Surface Pro straddles the space between the two segments effectively, creating another possible configuration for users interested in both a more traditional laptop experience and a more mobile-focused tablet one.
Additionally, several other manufacturers have products on the market that are clear competitors to the Microsoft Surface Pro. Here are three of its closest rivals:
11.6″ Macbook Air
The experts at ZDNet decided to compare the Microsoft Surface Pro with the equivalent Apple product. In weighing the balance between comparing the Surface Pro to tablets or notebooks from Apple, ZDnet used price as a major factor. As ZDNet notes, the Microsoft Surface RT was slightly cheaper than the equivalent iPad, and therefore the Surface Pro should be compared to the 11.6-inch Macbook Air. ZDNet noted that Apple notebooks — the 11.6-inch Macbook Air in both 64Gb and 128GB configurations — came in slightly cheaper than a Microsoft Surface Pro with the additional top-end Type Cover keyboard.
ZDNet concludes that the Microsoft Surface Pro sports excellent build quality, and that it functioned more like an ultrabook with tablet capabilities than a native tablet with a kickstand. ZDNet notes that some improvements to the product offering would have included a slot to house the stylus, an adjustable kick-stand and a desktop dock with extra USB and Ethernet ports. It concluded, however, that the Surface Pro is an “intriguing” addition to the range of hybrid notebooks and tablets and that future generations of the device would be anticipated with interest.
HP Envy X2
The HP Envy X2 weighs in with very similar specs to the Microsoft Surface Pro. Like the Microsoft device, it runs Windows 8. It also occupies the hybrid space where notebooks can morph into tablets and vice versa. It is slightly larger than the Surface Pro, with a display size of 11.6 inches compared to the Microsoft hybrid’s 10.6-inch display.
But there are significant differences between the HP Envy X2 and the Microsoft Surface Pro as well. For starters, the HP device runs at 1.8 Ghz but on an Intel Atom chip. The Microsoft device runs on the more powerful Intel Core i5 chip, usually seen in notebooks, at the same speed. The Microsoft device also has 4GB of onboard RAM, which is double that of the HP device. The Surface Pro, with the high-end Type Cover keyboard, costs more than the HP device.
As CNet notes, the Microsoft Surface Pro is the pick of the litter when it comes to the notebooks-meets-tablets space, particularly on machines running Windows 8. CNet observes that the Surface Pro has proven that “a tablet with a funky keyboard cover can replace a regular laptop or even a desktop PC”. By contrast, it calls the HP Envy X2 a “good device, but it’s not an excellent one”.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is a serious competitor to Microsoft’s Surface Pro. They ship with very similar specs. They both run on Intel Core i5 chips, operate with 4GB of onboard RAM and sport high-quality keyboards. Both machines are serious laptops or tablets, depending on what you use them for.
The Lenovo laptops feature a larger display, measuring 13.3-inches compared to the Surface Pro’s 10.6-inch screen. This makes the Lenovo machine more like some notebooks than the Microsoft device. However, the Lenovo device is also more expensive than the Microsoft machine, with the basic configuration costing more than the equivalent Microsoft device.
That said, consumer electronics review site Wirecutter deems the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 “the best Windows ultrabook for most people”. Wirecutter performs a direct comparison with the Surface Pro, noting that the Microsoft device “isn’t enough of a laptop” to replace a Yoga 13 for many users of notebooks. It concludes that the Surface Pro isn’t an ultrabook, while the Yoga 13 is. However, it notes that future versions of the Surface Pro could change things.