Yesterday, in Does the Surface Pro 2 Measure Up?, I jumped through my previous thoughts, one-by-one, about how Microsoft could make the Surface Pro 2 a much more successful sell than the original device release. I graded each bullet point, covering battery life, thickness and weight, price, and included accessories to review my expectations and see how well Microsoft addressed customer needs and desires. From my perspective Microsoft failed in each category except for battery life.
To Microsoft's credit, they did improve the Surface device line – considerably and in almost every category. I know it's tough to tell true intent when reading industry articles about new product releases, particularly when the author is a tad bit disappointed with the result. A lot of times it just sounds like non-stop complaining, the same type that kept the Israelites in the desert for 40 years. To be honest, it's easier to jump on the negative and always play devil's advocate. We generally assume that consumers are smart enough to see the good stuff, but it’s the small nuances that get missed that can either ruin the entire experience or dull sensibility so that a device that truly is lacking in features and function becomes a hot commodity. The iPhone is a great example of this.
The Microsoft Surface really is a remarkable device. I love mine and can't imagine life without it since it has completely replaced any laptop in my life. But, unfortunately, from the presenter to the presentation, the Surface press event was less than exciting. A presentation of this sort, at this time in Microsoft's company timeline, should have been a phenomenal event, rich with enthusiasm and exuding a carnival atmosphere. The Surface device line truly is exciting, but Microsoft failed to show it.
During my feature exposition yesterday, one of the pieces I highlighted was Included Accessories. Couple this with my bullet point for Price, and the Surface Pro 2 has a serious problem. One commenter to yesterday's article stated that:
"…no tablet known to man actually comes with the keyboard accessory at its lowest price point."
Fair enough. But, I believe this takes a bit more explanation.
Microsoft is marketing the Surface Pro 2 to business professionals. These same business professionals currently carry a laptop, which includes a keyboard. I've stated many times that my Surface Pro has completely replaced my laptop. When I originally acquired my Surface Pro, I opted for the Touch Cover since it was touted as revolutionary and amazing. But, it wasn't until I swapped out the Touch Cover for a Type Cover that the Surface Pro became more than a tablet. The Type Cover turned to the Surface Pro into a valuable, irreplaceable device. It transformed the Surface Pro from a novel gadget that I'd use for an hour a day, to something I suddenly opted to use for all my computing needs.
Unless you're in a specific industry where carrying and using a slate computer works as part of the job, or from the future, using a keyboard-free tablet all day long makes zero sense. If a business professional is going to be able to swap a laptop for a tablet, a good keyboard is a must. For this application, the Surface Pro with the Type Cover is a perfect solution. For Microsoft to market the Surface Pro as a laptop replacement, and as a business device, it must at least match what it is meant to replace.
With that in mind, let's look at the price factor.
A good business laptop is going to run around $700. For this price, which is in the mid-range, you'll get a 15.6 inch screen (with touch-capability), 6 GB of DDR3, an Intel Core i5 2.6 GHz, a 1000 GB hard drive, required ports, 5 hours of battery life – and a keyboard.
Now, let's take a look at the Surface Pro 2 pricing – without a keyboard.
- Surface Pro 2 64 GB (4 GB of RAM) - $899
- Surface Pro 2 128 GB (4 GB of RAM) - $999
- Surface Pro 2 256 GB (8 GB of RAM) - $1299
- Surface Pro 2 512 GB (8 GB of RAM) - $1799
Now, let's look at the keyboard prices.
- Touch Cover 2 - $119.99 (not really a good option for the Surface Pro)
- Type Cover 2 - $129.99
- Power Cover - $199.99
Do you see the difference?
There is true value in swapping a normal laptop with the Surface Pro 2, but I'm not sure that ease of movement during travel is enough to warrant paying around $2000 for the top of the line Surface Pro 2 with the Power Cover. Microsoft has priced themselves right out of supplying Surface Pros to businesses – well, unless it's government agencies who aren't spending their own money anyway.
For price alone, Microsoft needs to consider bundling the Type Cover with any of the Surface Pro 2 models. But, now factor in Microsoft's marketing plan for the Surface Pro 2 (to business professionals), and you have the perfect storm. I'd gladly grab the Surface Pro 2 128 GB for $999 if it came with everything I needed to be productive right out of the box. That's still $200 more than the business laptop, but that additional payout is for the cool factor, not unlike iPhone buyers.
So, for now, I'll stick with my original Surface Pro and just add on the Power Cover when it's available in 2014.
What do you think? Would you grab the Surface Pro 2 if a keyboard cover came bundled with it? Or, are you fine with separating function and flair?