Surface Pro lets Windows fly

ARRIVED: Microsoft Surface Pro
ARRIVED: Microsoft Surface Pro

The Microsoft Surface Pro is finally here, writes Chris Gardner , but if you want one you'll have to shop online.

"The wait is over," said the subject line of the email. "Surface Pro is now available."

It's been a long 10 months since Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer announced Microsoft was going into the hardware market with its own tablet personal computer.

The entry level RT model, which only runs applications from the new Windows 8 store built into the latest iteration of the operating system, has been out for about three months and sales, according to Ballmer, have been modest.

This, in my view, is down to people not knowing about the product, which in New Zealand is only available online. Those who do know about it don't know there are two models aimed at different markets.

The Surface Pro, which went on sale online last week, is running the full version of Windows 8 and can run old applications written for previous versions of Windows such as Adobe Photoshop and Roxio Creator.

The Surface Pro has a third-generation Intel Core i5 central processor unit with an Intel high definition graphics 4000 card and 4GB of dual channel RAM.

It has a 10.6 inch ClearType HD display touchscreen with a 1920x1080 resolution capable of playing 16:9 (widescreen) videos.

It also has a pair of 720p HD cameras, front and rear-facing.

Stereo speakers, along with a headset jack, come as standard and a microphone is also built in.

It also has wi-fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

But one of the best things is its full-size USB 3.0 port and microSDXC card reader.

The dark titanium Surface Pro measures 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53in and weighs 2 lbs (900 grams)

You can get it with either 64 gigabytes of solid state storage space (about 29GB available for user content) for US$899 (NZ$1070) or 128GB of storage (about 89GB available for user content) for US$999.

The Touch Cover, which doubles as a keyboard, is sold separately along with the Surface Pen.

Though its high specifications will make it a zippy piece of computer hardware, its limited storage means it is meant to be supplemented by a traditional workstation with more storage, or an external hard disk drive. It couldn't hold a 20th of the data I have created, and hoarded, over the decades.

Though Windows 8 works fine on old computer hardware with a keyboard and mouse, such as desktops and notebook computers, it really flies with tablets like the Surface.

I haven't seen one in the metal but I have heard from several people who have the less capable Surface RT.

They have been raving about it and I have tried several similar devices from other manufacturers too.

My next computer will either be a Surface Pro or something very much like it.

The HP ENVY x2 or the similar specification HP Elitepad, which is about to be released, spring to mind.

Follow Chris on Twitter @CHRISGARDNERNZ