The Surface Pro and the Million Dollar Question

by mjfern

Microsoft will launch the Windows 8 Surface Pro (Surface Pro) this Saturday. It’s a PC-tablet hybrid that combines PC performance with the portability of a tablet.

From one perspective, the Surface Pro is a major design accomplishment. It combines an Intel iCore 5 processor, 4GB of RAM, a high resolution display and two cameras in a device that is just 0.53 inches thick and weighs 2 pounds. It has the processing power to run the latest version of Microsoft Windows and Office as well as most other PC applications.

From another view, the Surface Pro falls short. While several of its components are comparable to an average PC, it has a very small hard-drive, just 16GB or 45GB of useable storage. It’s also heavier, thicker, and has a shorter battery life relative to other tablets. For instance, compared to the latest iPad, the Surface Pro is 39% heavier, 43% thicker, and has a 50% shorter battery life. The Surface Pro is also expensive (starting at $899) in comparison to the average PC or tablet.

In short, Microsoft is betting that there is a significant segment of customers prepared to sacrifice some performance for portability, and vice-versa. And this segment is willing to pay a premium for the convenience of having a 2-in-1 device (i.e., a PC and tablet in one).

And now for the million dollar question. Is there a segment of customers looking for a hybrid device and willing to pay a premium? Or is the Surface Pro in a market no man’s land, caught between higher performing PCs and more portable tablets?

I have an opinion, but I’d first love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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