Surface 2 Package Versus Laptop & Tablet Combination

I read Paul Thurrot’s Surface 2 pricing article and I was startled when I started adding up the pieces for a solution I would want:

  • Surface Pro 2 (128 GB): $999
  • Docking station: $199.99
  • Power Cover: $199.99
  • Monitor: $250
  • Total: $1648.98

I have not included the cost of managing 1 device, for example, a System Center Client Management License, a Volume License “upgrade” for Windows. 

This solution is intended to be a single device solution: the Surface Pro 2 is:

  • The tablet: with the Power Cover providing somewhere between 10-12 total battery hours
  • The PC in the office: with docking station and monitor
  • The laptop: with the Power Cover providing the keyboard

Note: Windows Intune and Office Pro Plus (via Office 356) are per user licenses for up to 5 devices.  There’s no point in adding these because quantity of devices for comparison purposes does not matter – I am still one person requiring one license for Intune and one license for O365, whether I have 1 device or 5 devices.

How does the above package compare with a more traditional solution with a laptop/tablet package?

  • HP EliteBook Folio 9470m (500 GB / 8.5 hrs battery): $1049
  • Toshiba Encore (8” Windows 8.1 tablet): $329
  • Monitor: $250
  • Total: $1628

I went with a “thin and light” business laptop from HP and chose one of the more economic options.  Quite honestly, you could go for a traditional laptop and pay $649 or spec up and pay $1858.  I chose the Toshiba tablet because they were the only name I saw (without much search effort to be honest) that I would associate with business customers.

So how do we compare:

  • The Surface Pro 2 solution with the Power Cover has more battery life than the pre-Haswell HP laptop.  I’m sure a Haswell laptop could correct this, but it seems like lots of OEMs so far (based on IFA announcements) have been lazy or skimming the battery because advancements, more often than not, are not as good as expected.
  • The laptop/tablet person has twice as many chargers to lose, and stuff to carry.  If they leave the laptop behind then they have trouble typing.  Note: typing on the lap, even with the new kickstand, will continue to be impossible.  If the old kickstand went beyond my knees, then a kickstand that sticks out more solves that … exactly how?  Has Surface perfected the warping of space?  Can I use one near the Large Hadron Collider without causing a black hole?
  • The pricing is not that different in the package.  Spec down the laptop and the business spends less.  Spec up the laptop and the Surface package is more efficient – my gut tells me this is the more realistic scenario of the 3.
  • Sync has become an issue: One Surface = one set of files.  2 devices and I need to Sync.  Sure, I’ll have Skydrive … and Skydrive Pro, and Workplace Folders … and isn’t it confusing now?

As a business user, I like the “one Surface” option, economically speaking.  As a user, I’m probably going to go with PC (for photo editing), ultrabook for mobile productivity, and 8” tablet (of some OS kind, and leaning towards iPad Mini with Cellular) because I do like to use the right tool for the job rather than a generalist solution.

I don’t consider the Surface Pro as a solution for me.  The device cannot be used on a lap unless you are 6-5 tall.  I know I’ll get the usual tweet from the usual 1 or 2 Surface fans on this.  I’ve tried it (we have an RT and a Pro here).  The new hinge just cannot solve the typing with a keyboard issue – the laws of physics are pretty clear.  I want a detachable clamshell keyboard with a stiff hinge that gives me a laptop/hybrid solution.  And why oh why doesn’t the Surface keyboard stay shut with magnets?  Why do I have to hold it closed?

Anyway, while the Surface Pro 2 is not for me, I do see it being viable for many business users if they go down the 1 device for users, rather than the traditional “here’s a PC, here’s a laptop, and here’s a tablet” approach that has evolved.

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