With New Price Cut, (Original) Surface Pro is a Good Deal, But...

With New Price Cut, (Original) Surface Pro is a Good Deal, But...

Understand what you get, and don't get, with Surface Pro

While I still caution readers that Surface RT isn't a good deal at any price, Microsoft this week dropped the price of the original Surface Pro by another $100. With prices now starting at $699—you know, while supplies last—you might be considering picking one up instead of going with the more expensive Surface Pro 2. Just be aware of the differences.

Microsoft didn't announce the price cuts anywhere, but various people have noticed the price change on the Surface web site. Here's the new pricing structure:

64 GB (tablet only) - $699

129 GB (tablet only) - $799

By comparison, the comparable Surface Pro 2 tablets cost $899 and $999, respectively, so each is $200 more.

What you get for that $200 is a screen with slightly better color reproduction and better battery life. How much better remains a source of confusion: I've been running battery tests on the Surface Pro 2 all week in anticipation of my review—in fact, one is running as we speak—but I can tell you in a preliminary way that the results have not been very positive. While I was expecting a serious battery life boost, I'm not seeing it so far.

And if battery life is a huge concern, you'll be able to pick up a Surface Power Cover for $200 by early 2014. Granted, that wipes out the price advantage, but if my tests and Microsoft's claims are correct, Surface Pro (1) with Power Cover will obtain better battery life than Surface Pro 2 by itself.

Everything else is identical between the two machines: The size, thickness and weight, the basic performance, the feature set, and so on.

There's just one thing. The Surface Pro 2 also comes with 200 GB of SkyDrive storage for free, for two years. And unlimited Skype minutes for one year. These are considerable values—200 GB of storage on SkyDrive costs $100 per year. If you're going to use that storage, that will wipe out the Surface Pro price advantage immediately.

Plus, with a Haswell processor, Surface Pro 2 is arguably a bit more future proof.

So do consider the price-reduced Surface Pro. But understand what you're really getting. And not getting.

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