With the embargo off on the Microsoft Surface Pro, we see where we’re going in the next 5 years: the convergence of a newly carved category of machines.
It’s one thing to see Jobs’s iPad as a game changer, but it’s also valid to see that it is a stepping stone towards the perfect device. The perfect device that I want, anyway, since 10 years ago.
It’s small and light, runs for at least a whole day, supports touch interface, can be an data organizing appliance (eg e-book, e-paper, media viewer, camera, etc), can be a competent word processing / desktop tool, can play games, and run all my applications.
It’s okay, I don’t need to make phone calls with it. Ubiquitous internet is nice though.
The Surface Pro is actually the first “tablet” that brings all of that together; it’s not the first to be able to do them or the first designed to do it, but it’s the first to point towards “hey, it looks like this, now you just need to improve my shortcomings.” The wacom digitizer and the gorgeous screen are important elements for productivity The full-bore Windows OS allows for the rest. We can look at the reviews and note that the weight and battery life are two major drawbacks, but those two are often at mercy of the impending march of technological progress. It will be soon that we’ll get the same plus those two in a lighter, thinner package, Intel willing.
Discrete or SOC style GPU boost is another story altogether. It’s only now that “ultrabooks” are getting good discrete solutions. Although the jump from a intel-powered tablet and an ultrabook is hardly epic, it’s a real challenge versus battery life and design for thinness. We’ll see.
I give it 5 years.