Yesterday, I published the specifications for Microsoft’s Surface for Windows RT device. But with the specifications for the coming Windows 8 version of the device, called Surface for Windows 8 Pro, now available, it’s possible to compare the two more easily. And there are some surprising differences between the devices … not to mention some surprising omissions from both.
Check out Microsoft Surface: RT Specifications if you haven’t seen it yet.
How they stack up: Surface RT vs. Surface Pro
Here’s a point-by-point comparison of Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro:
Surface RT: Windows RT (32-bit)
Surface Pro: Windows 8 Pro (64-bit)
Surface RT: Metro-style apps, bundled desktop applications only (includes Office RT)
Surface Pro: Metro-style apps, all desktop applications
Surface RT: 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37 inches
Surface Pro: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches
Surface RT: 1.5 pounds
Surface Pro: 2 pounds
Surface RT: 32 GB or 64 GB of eMMC storage
Surface Pro: 64 GB or 128 GB of eMMC/SSD storage (this isn’t clear yet, sorry)
Surface RT: 10.6 inch ClearType display running at 1366 x 768 with 5 point multi-touch
Surface Pro: 10.6 inch ClearType display running at 1920 x 1080 with 10 point multi-touch
Surface RT: Capacitive pen supported (but not included)
Surface Pro: Includes pen (likely active digitizer-based but not specified)
Surface RT: NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30
Surface Pro: Intel Core i5 (third-generation, “Ivy Bridge”) with Intel HD graphics 4000
Surface RT: 2 GB
Surface Pro: 4 GB
Surface RT: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
Surface Pro: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
Surface RT: Two 720p HD cameras, front-and rear-facing
Surface Pro: Two 720p HD cameras, front-and rear-facing
Surface RT: USB 2.0, microSDXC card slot, headset jack, HD video out port (proprietary), cover port
Surface Pro: USB 3.0, microSDXC card slot, headset jack, mini DisplayPort (proprietary), cover port
Surface RT: Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass
Surface Pro: Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass
Surface RT: 31.5 Wh
Surface Pro: 42 Wh
Surface RT: 24 W
Surface Pro: 48 W (with USB 3.0 port doubling as a powered 5 W port for accessories)
Looking over this list, a few things stand out to me:
Size, weight. The Surface Pro is noticeably thicker and heavier than the RT version. So you’ll pay for Intel compatibility.
Battery life. It’s not mentioned for either device. If the RT version doesn’t obtain at least 8 hours of battery life, this is a major fail. I’m looking for at least 5-6 hours for the Intel version, preferably more. UPDATE: Readers tell me that Microsoft claims "up to 8 hours of battery life" for Surface RT. Nothing yet on Surface Pro.
Storage expansion. A number of readers are confused by the small storage allotments on the RT device. Remember that you can easily and inexpensively add another 32 GB of storage via the microSDXC card slot, as I’m doing now on the tablet I’m testing. UPDATE: Tim H. tells me the card slot actually supports up to 64 GB of additional storage. Even better!
Pen. A number of readers were worried that Surface RT/Windows RT didn’t support pen input. It does.
How they screw up: Features missing from both device types
As good as the Surface devices look, they are both inexplicably missing some key functionality. And depending on your needs, these missing features could pretty much remove either Surface from your buying consideration. Some of the key missing features I’ve identified include:
Mobile broadband. Windows 8 and RT bring Windows firmly into the age of cellular-based mobile broadband. Unless, of course, you’re using a Surface. Neither device even offers cellular broadband as an option, which I find amazing. You should be able to buy these things with AT&T or Verizon choices in the US. And I suspect you will be able to do so … in 2013. That said, it’s important to realize that both Windows RT and Windows 8 support native class drivers for USB-based mobile broadband antennas. So you can add this feature, if you don’t mind giving up the one and only USB port.
GPS. A Surface device would make for an absolutely incredible in-car GPA with navigation … if it only included a GPS sensor. Given Microsoft’s constant droning on about the sensor capabilities of Windows 8 and RT, and the otherwise excellent bundled Maps app, this omission is surprising.
NFC. And speaking of missing sensors, Microsoft has been talking about NFC (Near Field Communications) ever since it first revealed Windows 8 and yet there’s no mention of this crucial new feature in either Surface. How is that possible? (Thanks to Aaron H. for the reminder on this one.)
Desktop docks. How could Microsoft possibly sell the Surface without some way to dock it to the desktop and add additional ports (USB 3.0, etc.), a big display, and a real keyboard and mouse? This is inexcusable, but I bet we see such an accessory when Surface for Windows 8 debuts.
Are there other features that you think sinks Surface? Drop me an email and let me know!