Like a lot of you, I'm extremely excited about the forthcoming Surface Pro refresh and new peripherals we expect to be announced Monday. 

The Haswell processor should significantly boost the Surface Pro's battery life while reducing its heat output, overcoming the current hardware's two biggest limitations. 

Improved graphics and additional RAM will be mere icing on the cake. 

However, if Paul Thurrott is right and the Surface Pro 2's case is exactly the same, I'll still feel a twinge of disappointment for the missed opportunity to correct some other glaring design flaws.  

Here are the top things I would change: 

The power connector 

I hate the damn thing! Because the Surface Pro's sides are beveled, it's next to impossible to plug the power adapter in without stopping to make sure it is correctly aligned. And even if it is, you will still have to mess with the shallow magnetic connector until it snaps into place.

Image from Microsoft. How many other devices do you know need instructions on how to properly attach a power cord?

The mini display port connector 

Not a fault of the connector per se, but another consequence of the beveled edges: a standard mini display port adapter won't fit snugly, requiring Microsoft's adapter which retails for $40.  

Of course you can probably whittle down the plastic of a generic plug to make it work, but who has time for that?

Generic minidisplay adapters won't do because the connector on the left is angled 45 degrees.

The sharp screen edge 

Once again, due to those pesky beveled sides, the Surface Pro screen's edges are unusually sharp and can really cut into your wrists if you cradle it for a long time while drawing. 

Image from Mashable. That sharp screen edge will threaten to cut you to the quick.

Those pesky beveled edges 

The root of all the above mentioned flaws. No other tablet on the market is as angular as the Surface Pro. Now we know why. 

Image from Gizmodo. Beveled edges the root of all Surface Pro's design flaws?

I would love to see a Windows 8 tablet fashioned along the lines of the original Nexus 7. Its textured back is so comfortable in the hand. Many critics are deriding the stitched leather backs of the new Samsung Notes, but I'm certain those will be more comfortable to hold for long periods of time than the Surface Pro. 

Image from Love those pinholes on the back of the first generation Nexus 7.

Samsung Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Say what you will, about Android art apps, but at least this will be comfortable to cradle.

The type and touch covers 

What's to like? They barely work as covers, they don't work on your lap and they get in the way while drawing.

As covers, they pretty much suck. A clam shell edge would make them infinitely more useful. 

They need to be connected to work. Jonathan Case has illustrated an ingenious approach for keeping a connected keyboard out of the way while drawing. I just carry a bluetooth keyboard around and hope that my screen isn't scratched in transit. 

The type and touch covers should feature bluetooth capability so you can continue typing even if they're detached. No excuses. 

Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad actually envelopes and protects the tablet and connects via bluetooth.

  The screen dimensions

Widescreen 16:9 sounds fantastic if you're marketing a movie consumption device. But in practice, the aspect ratio is very awkward for most uses. 

Reducing the size of that screen bezel would yield a much nicer screen size.

Microsoft could increase the screen size an inch or so merely by reducing the bezel size (although you'd also have to move the Windows/home button).

* * * 

Ok, so none of this is going to be corrected Monday, but solving these annoyances soon will be critical if Microsoft is going to compete effectively in the tablet space.  I know I'll jump to the first Windows 8 device that combines the rumored power of the Surface Pro 2 with a design aesthetic closer to Apple's.

UPDATE:  Facebook friend David Botos reminded me that I neglected one glaring item in my list of Surface Pro flaws: the lack of a silo for the stylus.

The current choice of sharing the power connector with the pen holder is woefully inadequate. I no longer use the Surface Pro pen on a regular basis, but I hate having to pack (and risk losing) my Wacom feel stylus on day trips. If the standard pen was tucked safely away, I wouldn't hesitate to use it for the occasional scribble. 


AuthorRick Rodriguez