Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT – what’s the difference?
What is the Microsoft Surface Pro?
Billed as a rival to the ultrabook market, Microsoft’s Surface Pro aims to bridge the gap between tablet and laptop.
It’s a 10-inch tablet running full Windows 8 – just like a laptop, rather than Windows RT, which is the paired down version of the operating system designed for cheaper tablets.
Thanks to the full Windows 8 operating system you can run all the programs and apps that you’d normally run on a laptop – making this tablet more versatile than the RT.
What is the Microsoft Surface RT?
Known simply as the Surface RT, this was Microsoft’s first ever tablet to pass through our test labs. Like the Pro, it’s a full-sized 10-inch tablet.
The key difference is that it runs Windows RT which is a special version of Windows 8 created specifically for tablets.
The RT operating system is only compatible with Windows apps. And although the Windows store is improving, there aren’t as many apps available as on the Google Play or Apple Store.
But back to explaining the difference between the Surface Pro and RT…
Surface Pro vs Surface RT
Which one is more portable?
At first glance they may look like identical twins, but the RT is lighter and slimmer than its big brother. Weighing in at 688g the Surface RT is not light for a tablet – it’s nearly 100g heavier than the Google Nexus 10, for example.
But the Pro comes in at an even heftier 907g – only a few hundred grams than many ultrabook laptops.
If you’re looking for a super portable tablet to slip into a bag, then you’re better off with a cheaper 7-inch tablet.
The Pro is also a bit thicker – at 13.5mm compared to the 9.3mm of the RT. Both are still pretty slim – you could fit them into an A4 envelope for example.
Why is it thicker and heavier? To fit in a faster, more powerful processor that needs more space for cooling.
How much does it cost?
The Surface RT is on sale in the UK from £399. The Surface Pro costs £719 for its 64GB model, while the 128GB Pro will set you back a whopping £799. Neither tablets comes with a keyboard cover included.
As you can see from the prices – these are radically different beasts. Not only is the Pro much heavier than a typical tablet, it has a price tag akin to a laptop too.
What’s the screen like?
That means the Pro has 208 pixels per inch vs. 148 on the Surface RT. More pixels per inch means sharper photos and text. This difference will really show in our tablets test lab.
What storage options are available?
The Surface RT is available with 32GB and 64GB of storage. This is enough to store music, apps and a few movies, but not loads.
The Pro, by comparison comes with 64GB or 128GB. However, it’s worth noting that lots of reports suggest that once the operating system has been taken into consideration, the 64GB version only offers a measly 23-30GB of free storage, which most people will eat up very quickly.
What’s the battery life like?
By Microsoft’s own admission, the Pro has a significantly shorter battery life than the RT. This is because the more powerful processor guzzles power, whereas the tablet version of the operating system is more conservative in its energy usage.
Microsoft claims the Pro will give just under four hours of battery life, which is about enough to watch a couple of films. Whereas our tests reveal that the RT will provide ten hours of video playback – enough to see you through more than four films.
Do they both have a keyboard?
This means you can write on screen just as you would on a pad of paper – great for taking notes in meetings, for example.
Add the £100 or so for the keyboard covers, though, and the Surface Pro starts to get seriously pricey.
Which is faster?
The Pro should be faster thanks to its Intel Core i5 processor. This kind of processor is normally found in an ultrabook – again placing the Pro into the laptop arena. We’ll be putting it through speed tests as soon as we can get the Pro into our lab.
Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT – which is best for me?
That’s because it runs the full Windows 8 operating system, has a faster processor and is a keen rival to the ultrabook market.
If, however, you just want a tablet as a second screen to watch video, read and surf the net then you’re better off sticking to the lighter, cheaper Surface RT. This also offers significantly superior battery life to its beefed up brother – making it a better option for anyone looking for a tablet to use when out and about.
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