What's new

Surface Pro vs competitors


New Member
Hey guys, so I'm waiting for like over a year now for a tablet that suits my needs as a college student (chemistry). I would need a tablet or notebook, that comes with an active digitizer so that I could take notes by hand on the device in the lectures or annotate pdfs. The early tablets with digitizer (not referring to special business solutions by wacom or stuff like that) were the Lenovo thinkpad tablet and later the Samsung Note 10.1. Unfortunately they both come with Android as OS, which is in my opinion not the best choice for productivity. But then in June the Surface Pro got announced and it was wonderful :D A tablet WITH fullHD display WITH a powerful processor WITH a digitizer and WITH a detachable keyboard/cover. With the release of Win8, the other manufacturer stepped forward too and a few devices ressemble my demands. I wanna give you a quick overview and afterwards would like to hear your opinion on these devices. So we got:

Microsoft Surface Pro
  • 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53in
  • 2lbs
  • 10.6", 1920 x 1080
  • Intel Ivybridge i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB/128GB SSD
  • Touch/Type Cover optional/included?
  • Pen technology unknown, apparently not N-Trig,
    perhaps a new company MS bought (Perceptivepixel.)
  • Between 900 and 1100$
  • Expected at least in January
  • Productpage


Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T
  • 11.60 x 7.20 x 0.50 in
  • 1.9lbs
  • 11.6", 1920 x 1080
  • Intel Ivybridge i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • Keyboarddock included
  • Wacom digitizer ("S pen")
  • 1.199$
  • Sold out everywhere
  • Productpage
  • Unboxing/review

Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T
  • 11.60 x 7.20 x 0.38 in
  • 1.6lbs
  • 11.6", 1366 x 768
  • Intel Atom Clovertrail
  • 2GB RAM
  • 64GB SSD
  • Keyboarddock included
  • Wacom digitizer ("S pen")
  • 749$
  • Available
  • Productpage
  • Unboxing/review


ASUS VivoTab
  • 294.2 x 188.8 x 8.7 mm
  • 675g
  • 11.6", 1366 x 768
  • Intel Atom Clovertrail
  • 2GB RAM
  • 64GB SSD
  • Keyboarddock included
  • Wacom digitizer
  • no $ prices yet announced
  • Launch expected for the next weeks
  • Productpage
  • Unboxing/review


Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
  • 262.6 x 164.6 x 9.8mm
  • 565 - 600g
  • 10.1", 1366 x 768
  • Intel Atom Clovertrail
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB/64GB SSD
  • Keyboarddock optional
  • Wacom or N-Trig expected
  • 649$
  • Available since today (in Germany)
  • Productpage

Last edited:
My ranking:

Surface Pro > Lenovo thinkpad > ATIV 500 > ATIV 700 > ASUS

Factors I considered:
- N-trig vs Wacom digitalizer (Wacom is better)
- Price (college student, typical)
- Form factor

Btw, I am also a Chemistry student
Cool :D

So, I watched your review. Your using a rubber stylus there right? I would really love a digitizer that lets me take notes like on paper while eg. being able to plot graphs or make tables.

btw. do you have certified information on which company uses what digitizer. because I heard a lot of rumors, for example wether ASUS is using a n-trig or a wacom pen.

considering the price, well I saved up upon this and I'm willing to spend around 1000$ IF that involves the whole package (tablet+keyboard+pen)

But I agree with you, Surface Pro is my favourite to, I'm just hoping it won't be too clumsy. Another question, why exactly do you consider the VivoTab the last of them? I especially liked the ASUS form factor (got hands on the vivotab rt), its built quality is way better than samsung.
I see a trend toward using newer processor and that's a good thing for sure. Even the Atom (normally terrible) Clovertrail is pretty decent. Ivy Bridge is going to be a big deal. Tough choices.
I do not know which uses which. I just know that S-pen, if it is like Samsung slate 7, should be WACOM.

I also know that the ideapad android version uses N-trig.

However, if you are not an artist, there really is no difference between N-trig and Wacom for note-taking, small sketches.

I put ASUS last, because according to your information, if the price is ~1200$ for a clover trail tablet, the price would not justify. Plus, I tried my hands on an Vivo tab myself, have to say, 11.6 is kinda big for a tablet. The Samsung ATIV justifies that with the S-pen, probably the best bet for note-taking/art tablet at this moment are the 500T and 700T.
I agree, but the $1,200.00 doesn't even look like a correct figure. It would be priced out of the market with an Atom processor.
I also don't think so, I just converted the € price. Asus didnt announce any $ prices yet but i think it's going to be <1000$ (considering that the Ativ 500 has almost exact specs :D )
Btw, i update the list considering the different pen technologies and a link to the product page.
A couple of observations on this as I have been using a Samsung Series 7 tablet (with Windows 8) for a while now, and just started using my Surface. Taking RT out of the picture, the size of the Microsoft product is not something you should underestimate. 10.5 vs. 11.5 makes a huge difference in the portability factor. While you will give up a bit of screen real estate the Surface size is honestly just right for both portrait and landscape use, and is much easier to hold.
While I understand the weight of the Pro will be greater, I honestly have now backed away from buying the Ativ 700 and am waiting on the Pro to replace my business machine Series 7. Also I am really enjoying the flip keyboard vs the docking station way more that I believed. At first I thought this loose keyboard was a bad idea and not very functional, but after a few weeks of using this I am hooked. Having the ability to flip this around and use this up close as a full tablet experience without having the doc in the way, or having to undock it is really nice. Also it works just fine in the lap as I am writing this post sitting on the couch with it in my lap. I use this a lot in bed and sitting and it works well that way.
I have had an iPad, 1,2, and 3 and used those as my main consumption device, while using my Samsung slate as my primary work device. Now I am really close to using this Surface as both, and the Pro should remove any of the complaints I currently have. My conclusion here is that Microsoft has done their homework on this to study usability and this device nails it in so many small ways. Some times we (myself included) get really caught up in specs and features and miss the one main important point which is how the device "handles".
...However, if you are not an artist, there really is no difference between N-trig and Wacom for note-taking, small sketches...

Just have to say I disagree with this assessment. I have had three N-Trig units, a Dell (can't remember model), HP Slate 500, and HTC Flyer (Android). In a word, N-Trig sucks. On all three units, poor handwriting reproduction, random vectoring, poor erasing, and overall less quality output. Even the built-in S-Pen of the ATIV 500 beats those hands down. FYI, I am sending the ATIV 500 back to the Microsoft Store for a variety of reasons, including lagging on pen input (letters/words appearing seconds after writing).
Check this out: