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Microsoft's Surface Pro Starts at $900, Smart Cover Not Included

By Norman Chan

Pretty great price for a Core i5 system with a 1920x1080 touch display.

Microsoft has finally announced pricing for its Surface with Windows 8 Pro. This is the version of the Surface that will run the full x86 build of Windows 8 Pro, making it more of a fully-fledged PC than ARM tablets running Windows 8 RT. Surface Pro will start at $900 with 64GB of capacity, while $1000 will get you 128GB. Given the install size of Windows 8 and the binary-to-decimal conversion, we expect the 128GB model to be much more popular. Both versions include the Surface digitizer pen that's only on the Pro model, and neither include Microsoft's Touch or Type Covers (still $120 and $130, respectively). Not bundling a Touch Cover is disappointing, since this is a computer that would really benefit from being used as a laptop.

Microsoft has also confirmed that the 10.6" display of the Surface Pro runs at 1920x1080, up from 1366x768 on the Surface RT. A mini DisplayPort can connect to a monitor with a resolution up to 2560x1440 (~27 inches). Because it runs an Ivy Bridge Core i5 chipset, it also has a singular build-in USB 3.0 port, and comes with 4GB of RAM. The Surface Pro is also a little heavier and thicker than the RT version, at two pounds and 14 millimeters. Even with a two handed grip in landscape position (the ideal way to hold either Surface models), we don't expect it to be comfortable to hold up for extended periods. This is much more of a competitor to the MacBook Airs and Lenovo Yogas of the world than iPads and Nexus tablets.

At $1000, the Surface Pro prices comparably with Apple's cheapest MacBook Air, but you're trading a fixed and rigid keyboard (a floppy Type Cover and kickstand don't work as well on the lap) for a high-resolution touchscreen and pen digitizer. That's going to be very appealing for some people.

Microsoft says the Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be on sale in January.