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Windows tablets

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT comparison review

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Microsoft's Surface is its own-brand tablet, but there are two models, the Surface RT and Surface Pro. So what are the differences between the two and which one is the right one for you?

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT

On the, er, surface, both tablets seem pretty similar. While they have an almost identical design, they vary wildly in specification and come with different versions of Windows 8.

We'll compare to two Surface tablets section-by-section to highlight the differences between them.

Dimensions

It's hard to tell the difference between the Surface Pro and the Surface RT since they share similar dimensions – both are 275 x 172mm. However, with a beefier spec packed in, the Surface Pro is thicker at 13.5mm compared to 9.5mm.

It's not a surprise that the Pro is also heavier at 903g while the RT is 686g.

Microsoft Surface tablet

Price

The Surface RT starts at £399 and goes up to £559. Microsoft has only announced US pricing for the Surface Pro which will start at $899 and launch in January 2013.

Screen

Both of Microsoft's tablets use a 10.6in 'ClearType' screen, designed to be used predominantly in landscape mode. Each has an aspect ratio of 16:9 but there are a couple of differences to mention.

The main one is resolution – the Surface RT uses 1366x768-pixels while the Surface Pro has a full HD resolution of 1920x1080. This means the Pro's pixel density of 208ppi is greater than the 148ppi on offer from the RT.

Another difference is that the Surface RT supports up to 5-point multi-touch, but the Surface Pro offers double with 10-point input.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Processor

Running on the tablet-specific version of Windows 8, the Surface RT has the popular nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM.

However, Microsoft has given the Surface Pro the kind of hardware line-up you'd typically find in an Ultrabook laptop. It uses a third generation Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors and 4GB of RAM.

We don’t know the exact Core i5 model but at the least this will be dual-core with a clock speed of 1.7GHz and integrated Intel HD4000 graphics.

Storage

Both Surface tablets come with two storage capacities to choose from. The Surface RT has 32GB or 64GB while the Surface Pro has 64GB or 128GB.

All models come with a microSDXC card slot for additional capacity and the full-size USB port on each can be used to attach an external hard drive.

Microsoft Surface kickstand

Cameras

There's no difference when it comes to cameras. Both the Surface Pro and Surface RT have 720p front and rear cameras. The rear camera is angled such that it's level when the tablet is on its kick stand.

Connectivity

Connectivity is very close to identical between the Surface Pro and Surface RT. Both have a full-size USB, Bluetooth 4.0, headphone jack, microSDXC card slot and a 2x2 multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antennae for 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi.

The differences are that the RT's USB port is version 2.0 and it has a micro-HDMI port while the Pro has USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort.

Software

As we’ve mentioned, the two Surface tablets run different versions of Windows 8. You can guess which version based on the name of each Surface model.

Microsoft Surface with Windows 8

While in the tiled Modern UI, the tablets are no different, apps for this part of Windows 8 can be downloaded from the Windows Store.

However, the desktop mode is drastically divergent. For the Surface RT it's merely a place to use Office, Internet Explorer and not much else beyond control panel and file explorer.

The Surface Pro, on the other hand, doesn't come with Office pre-installed but, importantly, you can install use regular x86 Windows 7 programs.

Battery

The Surface RT has a 31.5Wh battery while the Surface Pro has a proportionately larger 42Wh battery. However, Microsoft has confirmed on Twitter that the Pro will only offer half the battery life of the RT – amounting to about 4 hours.



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