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Test finds Surface Pro's storage space comparable to MacBook Air

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 
After wide-ranging media reports bashed Microsoft over questionable claims regarding the new Surface Pro's built-in flash storage, a side-by-side comparison between the tablet and Apple's 11.6-inch MacBook Air reveal the two devices share the same amount of disk space.

Surface/Air
Source: ZDNet


A test from ZDNet's Ed Bott pitted Redmond's newest device against Apple's thin-and-light MacBook Air, arguing that the comparison is more than fitting given the Surface Pro's ability to run a full-featured operating system.

"Unlike the Surface RT, which is a tablet that does a few PC-like things, Surface Pro is a real, no-compromises PC," Bott wrote. "It can power a 2560x1600 30-inch display, it runs Windows 8 Pro, it supports Hyper-V virtualization, you can run PhotoShop and AutoCAD on it. It deserves to be compared head to head with another full PC like the MacBook Air."

Surface Pro with Stylus


It was reported in late January that the 64GB Surface Pro would ship with as little as 36 percent of its advertised storage accessible to users, mostly due to the installation of Windows 8 and a recovery partition. The 128GB model tested on Thursday was said to leave 83GB, or 65 percent, left for customer use.

With a few simple calculations, and accounting for the two different methods Windows and OS X uses to report storage capacities, the Surface Pro and MacBook Air were found to have nearly identical amounts of free space. In fact, after moving the Windows 8 Recovery partition to a USB drive, the Surface Pro actually bested the Air's addressable storage by over 5GB.

Bott noted the MacBook Air with 128GB of flash storage ships with 92.2GB (approximately 99 billion bytes in pre-Snow Leopard Base 2 calculations) available, while the 128GB Surface Pro with Recovery partition installed offers 89.7GB (approximately 96.3 billion bytes). Removing the partition brings the Surface's capacity up to 97.5GB.

MacBook Air


While Microsoft is marketing the Surface as a hybrid device, many consumers and reviewers are comparing it to other tablets. It can be argued that the slate form-factor, lack of built-in keyboard and touch-driven interface put the Surface Pro in the basic tablet category, but the device's full Windows 8 OS and ability to install Windows programs brings it more in line with so-called Ultrabooks.

Although Bott did not have access to a 64GB Surface Pro for testing, he estimated a 64GB MacBook Air would "compare more favorably to a Surface Pro in this configuration."

"I consider the 64 GB Surface Pro and MacBook Air pure companion devices, designed for people who don't care about carrying around large amounts of personal data," A storage capacity of 30-40 GB is more than adequate for current work, especially when it's supplemented with external devices (SD cards, USB flash drives, external hard drives) and cloud storage."
post #2 of 100

On the Macbook Air, notice how the display can be opened and tilted to a wide range of angles. You can actually use a Macbook Air on your lap, if you wish. Isn't that amazing? Yet, the Surface can not perform such a simple task. Does somebody using a Surface have to walk around with a fold up table in order to use it? Or do they have to lie down in the middle of the street if they wish to quickly check something?

 

One of the biggest drawbacks though is the fan IMO. I can't imagine ever using a tablet that has a ridiculous fan inside of it. I demand absolute silence from any mobile device, such as phones and tablets. 

post #3 of 100

Surface pro is DOA but not because of storage. It's really a non-issue for most people

post #4 of 100
True, both cram a desktop OS into 64 GB, leaving enough storage for most people's needs EXCEPT for music/photo libraries.

However...

The Air has a real keyboard (typing tests on both Surface covers have shown it to fall short). Backlit no less.

The Air has MUCH longer battery life.

The Air doesn't try to cram two totally different platforms into one confusing mess.

The Air's screen angle is adjustable.

The Air has OS X and the iTunes store.

The Air has a much bigger and better trackpad.

The Air is a good laptop. Not a poor laptop combined with a poor tablet.

But if you consider the Surface Pro to be a tablet (after all, the keyboard/trackpad isn't even included in the price, it's optional) then you'll be comparing its free space to the iPad, not the Air.

P.S. My 128 GB Air is not a companion--it's a full professional production machine for Photoshop, programming, office tasks, everything. It can drive a big external display and its storage is unlimited when I'm at home (external drives). I chose less internal storage to save money: SSD is well worth the performance, but it costs more per GB. If I saved even more money and got a 64GB, I'd use my Air for all the same things... but I'd rely a bit more on cheap, high GB Western Digital pocket hard drive beside it.

P.P.S. The Air has a recovery partition too--and you can delete it for more space (less than a GB).
Edited by nagromme - 2/7/13 at 8:08pm
post #5 of 100
Consumers are happy that OSX is an entertainment delivery system. That's why they're buying more Apple computers and less Windows PCs.
post #6 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by drobforever View Post

Surface pro is DOA but not because of storage. It's really a non-issue for most people
If its not because of storage, then why do you think it's DOA?
post #7 of 100
The Surface Pro tries to be a competitor against both MacBook Air and iPad, and it fails against each in a different set of ways. Arguing that it's storage use is comparable to the Air doesn't make it a good laptop.
post #8 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

P.P.S. The Air has a recovery partition too--and you can delete it for more space (less than a GB).

I think you get over 4GB back if you delete iPhoto, Garageband and iMovie. These comes with a Mac but they are not part of the OS.

Ed's methodology is flawed. It's fiction wrapped in some facts. Not what I'd call scientific at all.

I love how he tries to skewer Apple as not being honest about the drive space when both drives are marketed based on BASE-10.

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post #9 of 100

Great don't compare the Surface to a Ipad(Market Leader) ..i've notice that the surface has been compared to everything except the device it was suppose to blow out of the water...some sites are only compare it to android tablets...this must be MS PR people's instructions...why would you not compare it to the market leader...other then it will look bad.

 

I want MS to produce a great device and software as android is just a rip off of ios...im still waiting for a new fresh software/device that makes everyone hold there breath.

post #10 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by anfboymn View Post


If its not because of storage, then why do you think it's DOA?

 

1) Poor battery life (already proven by reviews) and

2) most of the apps there are desktop apps with poor touch support which will confuse the hell out of most casual customers when they try it out

post #11 of 100

I think that is why Apple doesn't build a 64GB notebooks.

post #12 of 100

They forgot to mention that the MacBook Air also comes with over twenty terabytes of style and class.

 

Unfortunately, the Surface does not.

 

post #13 of 100
Originally Posted by Mac101 View Post
I think that is why Apple doesn't build a 64GB notebooks.

 

*cough*

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #14 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

True, both cram a desktop OS into 64 GB, leaving enough storage for most people's needs EXCEPT for music/photo libraries.

I would never recommend 64GB of storage for a general usage laptop!!!
However...

The Air has a real keyboard (typing tests on both Surface covers have shown it to fall short). Backlit no less.

The Air has MUCH longer battery life.

The Air doesn't try to cram two totally different platforms into one confusing mess.

The Air's screen angle is adjustable.

The Air has OS X and the iTunes store.

The Air has a much bigger and better trackpad.

The Air is a good laptop. Not a poor laptop combined with a poor tablet.

I'm sure MS had something to do with this article. Your points above are hard to ignore when dong a real comparison.
But if you consider the Surface Pro to be a tablet (after all, the keyboard/trackpad isn't even included in the price, it's optional) then you'll be comparing its free space to the iPad, not the Air.

P.S. My 128 GB Air is not a companion--it's a full professional production machine for Photoshop, programming, office tasks, everything. It can drive a big external display and its storage is unlimited when I'm at home (external drives). I chose less internal storage to save money: SSD is well worth the performance, but it costs more per GB. If I saved even more money and got a 64GB, I'd use my Air for all the same things... but I'd rely a bit more on cheap, high GB Western Digital pocket hard drive beside it.

P.P.S. The Air has a recovery partition too--and you can delete it for more space (less than a GB).

 

This is just another example of why the media can't be trusted. It isn't a question of being biased as much as bought.
post #15 of 100

This comparison brought to you by our sponsor.... Microsoft!

post #16 of 100
But you expect a laptop to have a more space-intensive operating system. It doesn't matter if the Surface is technically running a desktop operating system--it's trying to be a tablet and that's why it's not OK.
post #17 of 100

Wait... aren't Tablet's and PC's the same? Didn't I just read AI, as well as a bunch of other AI commenters, try to make that argument all day?

 

Certainly seems to be a prevalence of short memory here.

post #18 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

Wait... aren't Tablet's and PC's the same?

 

No.

 

The hint was in the spelling.

post #19 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

True, both cram a desktop OS into 64 GB, leaving enough storage for most people's needs EXCEPT for music/photo libraries.

However...

The Air has a real keyboard (typing tests on both Surface covers have shown it to fall short). Backlit no less.

The Air has MUCH longer battery life.

The Air doesn't try to cram two totally different platforms into one confusing mess.

The Air's screen angle is adjustable.

The Air has OS X and the iTunes store.

The Air has a much bigger and better trackpad.

The Air is a good laptop. Not a poor laptop combined with a poor tablet.

But if you consider the Surface Pro to be a tablet (after all, the keyboard/trackpad isn't even included in the price, it's optional) then you'll be comparing its free space to the iPad, not the Air.

P.S. My 128 GB Air is not a companion--it's a full professional production machine for Photoshop, programming, office tasks, everything. It can drive a big external display and its storage is unlimited when I'm at home (external drives). I chose less internal storage to save money: SSD is well worth the performance, but it costs more per GB. If I saved even more money and got a 64GB, I'd use my Air for all the same things... but I'd rely a bit more on cheap, high GB Western Digital pocket hard drive beside it.

P.P.S. The Air has a recovery partition too--and you can delete it for more space (less than a GB).

well said. you should also add:

 

- with the "optional" (almost necessary) keyboard the Pro costs $30 more than the Air @ list price - and you can buy the Air for $100 under list nowadays, so the real difference is $130. the Microsoft Tax?

- the Air's 11.6" screen provides 19% more screen area than the Pro's 10.6" screen. that's enough of a difference to matter.

 

and that's just the base model Air. i don't know what % opt for that model, but those looking for real power can choose the 13.3" screen Air model, faster processors, and more RAM and flash storage - at a higher price, of course. which many do.

 

but there are no more powerful models of the Surface Pro, at any price.

post #20 of 100

I'll be interested to see the Youtube videos showing the Surface Pro in action. The RT was astonishingly slow. I would even say unusable. Booting, loading apps, interface sluggishness.

 

Just from what I've read, the battery life of the Pro seems like it's killer feature. Meaning it just kills it. The fact that you end up with crumbs left for onboard storage is just the bonus.

post #21 of 100
Eh.

I have the high end 11" MBA from mid 2011, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't trade it for a Surface Pro, (or top of the line iPad, for that matter.)

That said, you CAN compare a Surface Pro to an iPad or MBA, and those comparisons are going to yield different strength/weakness tables. I think it will be interesting to see what people do with it, and if perhaps there isn't a use case that it hits on the head.

Some people might use Win 8 apps and want a device that can travel with them, but also want to use it as a consumption device for lounging around the living room. How many people are they?

Not too many, I wouldn't think, but we'll see where the sales go to confirm what we all suspect (and "dismal" is probably the best word to describe that suspicion.) Even so, it would be irrational to say that this device doesn't do a lot of things an iPad can't, and if it isn't exactly an MBA killer, it does at least have the advantage of being compatible with Win 8 apps.
post #22 of 100
After all the hype of Microsoft aiming the surface as a 'professional tablet' and slamming the iPad, it seems odd to now use the MacBook Air as a comparison. Is the Surface a tablet or not? I think not... it's a laptop that doesn't come with a keyboard and can't be used on your lap...
post #23 of 100

The most honest review of the Surface Pro is over at Ars Technica (by its Windows Editor, no less!):

 


Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro: Hotter, Thicker, Faster, Louder

 

His final words:

 

"The design fundamentally doesn't work"

 

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/02/microsoft-surface-with-windows-8-pro-hotter-thicker-faster-louder/

post #24 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by NormM View Post

The Surface Pro tries to be a competitor against both MacBook Air and iPad, and it fails against each in a different set of ways. Arguing that it's storage use is comparable to the Air doesn't make it a good laptop.

 

Agreed. For a tablet, it has ridiculously bad battery life and is way too clunky/heavy. For a laptop, it can't even be used on an actual lap and has a flimsy, inferior keyboard and trackpad. The storage issue is far from the primary reason why the Surface is just not a good product.

post #25 of 100
constable odo said,

"Consumers are happy that OSX is an entertainment delivery system. That's why they're buying more Apple computers and less Windows PCs."

OSX is way more than an entertainment delivery system, just ask all those NASA engineers. If OSX is fine for a range of people from consumers to NASA engineers, just who are they leaving out?

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post #26 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



Ed's methodology is flawed. It's fiction wrapped in some facts. Not what I'd call scientific at all.

I love how he tries to skewer Apple as not being honest about the drive space when both drives are marketed based on BASE-10.

 

Why not write an article explaining where he is wrong.  I am sure he would be interested in some new information.

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post #27 of 100

So ... let's add up the score for the great MS Windows 8 2012-13 campaign:

 

Windows 8 OS: being avoided - a flop - with PC sales nose diving.

 

Windows Phone 8: disappointing despite Nokia's all-in commitment, and going nowhere fast.

 

Surface RT: a total fail.

 

Surface Pro: a big flop, for fans only.

 

compared to Apple's 2012:

 

OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion: popular, with Mac sales increasing modestly.

 

iPhone 6: a huge hit.

 

iPad (5): a big hit

 

iPad Mini: a huge hit

 

so which company does Wall Street and the pundits declare to be in deep trouble? yeah, you guessed it ...

 

but when it comes to MS, they like their strategy. they like it a lot.

post #28 of 100
I have a MacBook Air and and MacBook Pro along with two other Macs and three iPads. When I touch the screen on any OS X computer nothing happens. Forget the comments about screen angle, battery life, etc.

I appreciate the comments but there are differences and Apple needs to put touch in OS X at some point.

They promoted this with iOS and customers expect it.

How many times have you seen a 4 year old touch the screen on a MacBook computer (any model). Apple needs to let the 4 years olds guide them.
post #29 of 100

True.

 

Except one's DOA and the other defined an entire market segment. 

 

/thread

post #30 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

True, both cram a desktop OS into 64 GB, leaving enough storage for most people's needs EXCEPT for music/photo libraries.

However...

The Air has a real keyboard (typing tests on both Surface covers have shown it to fall short). Backlit no less.

The Air has MUCH longer battery life.

The Air doesn't try to cram two totally different platforms into one confusing mess.

The Air's screen angle is adjustable.

The Air has OS X and the iTunes store.

The Air has a much bigger and better trackpad.

The Air is a good laptop. Not a poor laptop combined with a poor tablet.

But if you consider the Surface Pro to be a tablet (after all, the keyboard/trackpad isn't even included in the price, it's optional) then you'll be comparing its free space to the iPad, not the Air.

P.S. My 128 GB Air is not a companion--it's a full professional production machine for Photoshop, programming, office tasks, everything. It can drive a big external display and its storage is unlimited when I'm at home (external drives). I chose less internal storage to save money: SSD is well worth the performance, but it costs more per GB. If I saved even more money and got a 64GB, I'd use my Air for all the same things... but I'd rely a bit more on cheap, high GB Western Digital pocket hard drive beside it.

P.P.S. The Air has a recovery partition too--and you can delete it for more space (less than a GB).

You forgot that the MacBookAir has Thunderbolt so you have a LOT of options to add, Sonnex ext PCI card expansion chassis, etc.

post #31 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post

So ... let's add up the score for the great MS Windows 8 2012-13 campaign:

 

Windows 8 OS: being avoided - a flop - with PC sales nose diving.

 

Windows Phone 8: disappointing despite Nokia's all-in commitment, and going nowhere fast.

 

Surface RT: a total fail.

 

Surface Pro: a big flop, for fans only.

 

compared to Apple's 2012:

 

OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion: popular, with Mac sales increasing modestly.

 

iPhone 6: a huge hit.

 

iPad (5): a big hit

 

iPad Mini: a huge hit

 

so which company does Wall Street and the pundits declare to be in deep trouble? yeah, you guessed it ...

 

but when it comes to MS, they like their strategy. they like it a lot.

And when they can't get that many users to buy their OS upgrade, what does Microsoft do?  RAISE THE PRICE so they can make their sales targets.

 

$200 for Window 8 Pro.  I'm glad I don't work for a computer reseller selling to corporate and government accounts.  I don't think I could look a customer in the eye without laughing at the price for Windows 8 Pro licensing.   Knowing my former accounts, they probably would have a difficult time requesting it without laughing too.... 

post #32 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by bohannjn View Post

I have a MacBook Air and and MacBook Pro along with two other Macs and three iPads. When I touch the screen on any OS X computer nothing happens. Forget the comments about screen angle, battery life, etc.

I appreciate the comments but there are differences and Apple needs to put touch in OS X at some point.

They promoted this with iOS and customers expect it.

How many times have you seen a 4 year old touch the screen on a MacBook computer (any model). Apple needs to let the 4 years olds guide them.

It would be a great workout raising your arms and leaning over to actually touch the screen. My iMac is too far away from me to make it plausible to use it as a touch screen.  Plus, I would hate to constantly break out the glass cleaner every day.  I'll stick to the trackpad and gesture mouse, thank you very much.

 

I am wondering what they will bring over from OS X to iOS and visa versa.  This next release of OS X and iOS is going to be VERY interesting to see what Ive and Federighi come up with.

post #33 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac101 View Post

I think that is why Apple doesn't build a 64GB notebooks.
Oh, but they do http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/family/macbook_air
post #34 of 100
Windows 8 is a POS!
I used it and it sucks b*lls for days.
Viva OSX!!!!
post #35 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by robogobo View Post

Oh, but they do http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/family/macbook_air

I'm always amazed at Apple's pricing scheme.

$999 gets you in the door for the 11" Macbook Air. But wait... just $100 more doubles the storage!

Oh look... another $100 gets you a bigger screen and a faster processor!!

Unless you really needed the 11" form-factor... the 13" sounds like the better deal to me.

This reminds me of the old 4th gen iPod Touch. $199 for 8GB... $299 for 32GB !!!

It seems crazy not to get the better models... Apple does that on purpose 1biggrin.gif
post #36 of 100

While Mr. Bott's comparison of the Surface Pro to the MacBook Air is fair of itself, it is spurious if it is an attempt to defuse the controversy about usable disk space on the 64GB Surface model. Obviously the bigger the storage space, the less important is the amount of space used by the system. No brainer. But Mr. Bott wants to treat the Surface Pro as a full featured laptop that should be compared only to another full featured laptop, both with the same storage capacity. Well I'm fine with that because in doing so, he effectively acknowledges that the 64GB model is neither a tablet nor a capable laptop.

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post #37 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by bohannjn View Post

How many times have you seen a 4 year old touch the screen on a MacBook computer (any model). Apple needs to let the 4 years olds guide them.

 

Who gives a crap about any four year olds? Give them an iPad, and that'll keep 'em quiet for a while. iPads are appliances that even apes can use and the OS is dumbed down on purpose.

 

I'm sure glad that OS X is not touch, because I'd hate to be lifting my arms up and around to navigate the 27" monitor that is in front of me at the moment. I use a Magic Trackpad and that's plenty enough touch for me as far as OS X is concerned. I'd also hate to be using all of my non-touch apps and trying to use those with a touch screen. I'd also hate to see everything blown up size wise as to accommodate a touch screen OS. Pros who have work to do don't have time to mess around with any OS that has to be dumbed down in order to implement touch.

 

As great as I think that my iPad is, I'm not exactly wishing for a touch screen when I'm using OS X, quite the contrary. That probably has something to do with the fact that OS X was never designed for touch in the first place. 

 

If Apple wants to introduce some sort of touch screen based OS for their Mac line in the future, then they should make a completely different OS, they shouldn't mess with OS X, IMO. If a touch iMac came out tomorrow, I would definitely not buy one. I don't see the appeal at all.


Edited by Apple ][ - 2/8/13 at 1:59am
post #38 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by bohannjn View Post

I have a MacBook Air and and MacBook Pro along with two other Macs and three iPads. When I touch the screen on any OS X computer nothing happens. Forget the comments about screen angle, battery life, etc.

I appreciate the comments but there are differences and Apple needs to put touch in OS X at some point.

They promoted this with iOS and customers expect it.

How many times have you seen a 4 year old touch the screen on a MacBook computer (any model). Apple needs to let the 4 years olds guide them.

I really hope Apple never ever goes along that path you are mentioning. No thanks. BTW I love Apples Trackpads that's the way Apple makes OS X "touchable". So far they did a really good job, and hopefully they will be improving the functionality of the Trackpad. If it doesn't exist already, Apple could launch an App, that turns your iPad into an giant Trackpad. For some graphical applications this might be quiet useful. Like a Wacom tablet with optical feedback.

post #39 of 100
Nonesense! I was in the apple store yesterday looking at brand new MacBook Air. It was using little over 8.5 GB of its 128GB Space. Clearly this guy installed a bunch more apps on the machine greatly effecting the results.
post #40 of 100
The surface is an overpriced peace of junk. If you wanted a laptop with the same performance and battery life, you could buy any PC laptop for $300 cheaper.

Besides PC are the reason, I do not own any. They are worthless.
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