Today I’ve got both the Surface Pro vs. Surface RT so we’re going to compare them! First let’s talk about weight. Neither of these feel heavy to me. The Pro is certainly heavier at 2lbs, versus the 1.5lb Surface RT, but even holding them both together is lighter than the camera I carry and definitely lighter than my old 4.7lb Tablet PC. Plus I have the advantage of extremely muscular upper body strength.

The Pro has a much faster boot time and shutdown time which actually makes turning the tablet fully off not much different speed-wise compared to putting it into sleep mode.  Resuming from sleep mode on the Pro takes a few seconds compared to the RT’s instant resume. Since resuming from sleep takes so long, you might as well just shut down completely and preserve the battery life. The RT is much slower at boot up and shut down, but it has instant resume from sleep mode.

In terms of launching “Modern” apps, web browser speed, and launching full desktop apps like Word 2013 and Onenote 2013, the Surface Pro smokes the RT. The Pro scores higher in all aspects of performance. Of course the Surface Pro also does many many things that ARM based tablets are not capable of. The Pro supports the same 40,000 or so modern Windows 8 apps available in the store on both tablets, in addition to the 4 million something existing desktop style apps, plus 750,000 Android apps via Bluestacks, and whatever other apps you might want to run through a Hyper-V virtual machine.

The Surface Pro does get warm when doing heavier processor intensive procedures like rendering HD video from Premiere Pro or batch processing hundreds of RAW photos. In other words, things that other ARM based tablets are simply not capable of.

The Surface RT is certainly thinner and lighter than the Pro and that’s noticeable when holding either for long periods of time.  There are some minor cosmetic differences. From the front, both look very much the same except for the higher resolution 1080 x 1920 pixel screen on the Pro. The sides have different configurations with a mini display port on the Pro versus a mini HDMI port on the RT. The MicroSD slot is in different locations as well.  The Pro also has ventilation along the top and side edges with very quiet fans for air circulation. I’ve only heard the fans come on during heavy CPU tasks (again, things that lesser tablets just can’t do.)  Using the Pro for lightweight work keeps it at a very comfortable temperature.

On the battery life side, the Pro gets between 4-6 hours of constant use where the RT gets closer to 10 hours. The Pro clearly has laptop-like battery life to match its powerful capabilities, so if you’re highly mobile all day, you might want to recharge at lunch time in order to get through the rest of the day.  I can easily get through the workday with a 1.5 hour top-off charge during lunch.

The chargers for the Pro and RT are a bit different as well. The RT’s charger is smaller with folding prongs in the charging brick while the Pro’s charger is a bit larger with a detachable wired plug and an extra USB port for charging another device like a mobile phone. This is extremely convenient because it means only having to carry one charger for both your tablet and smartphone.

Overall, the Surface Pro is superior to the RT in all aspects of speed and capabilities other than battery life and price, but if those are the only things important to you, there are plenty of very cheap tablets with long battery life and nowhere near the functionality of the Surface Pro.

Which do you prefer; the Surface RT with its longer battery life, thinner design and lower cost, or the Surface Pro which is just as capable as many midrange desktop PCs with the added advantage of extreme portability?

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