No more Surface Pro copycat devices


I was looking at the Surface 2 and noticed it has an 8th Gen m3 processor. I was curious what generation the Surface Pro 7 had (10th) and what other PC makers had in their tablet form factors. That is when I discovered nearly all of the major PC makers don’t feature any detachable 2-in-1 PCs on their websites. Lenovo was the only one who had a new PC form factor (the Windows10X Folding device).

Is this because:

  • PC makers are unhappy with Microsoft’s direct competition with Surface Laptop and Surface Laptop Go?
  • Intel 11th Gen is right around the corner and PC makers are going to launch new detachables with new CPUs?
  • The “Surface Pro” formfactor has not been a big enough market for PC makers to continue the product lines?
  • Windows 10 has been stale in the tablet formfactor since launch?
  • Something else?
  • All of the above?
Comments (10)

10 responses to “No more Surface Pro copycat devices”

  1. SWCetacean

    I think it's something along the lines of the "all of the above" option. Detachable PCs necessarily involve a lot of compromises. The CPU has to be behind the display, because you can't count on the keyboard being there all of the time. That itself places a lot of constraints on how powerful the device can be, and how it can be physically built. Also, the tablet portion needs to be light, so that it can reasonably be used as a tablet. Combine that with the first issue of processor (plus RAM and storage) location means that it's pretty hard to satisfy all of those requirements and you get a compromise solution. Regular laptops and even convertible devices have fewer of those constraints since the processing elements can be in the base, which offers more room for components, cooling, and battery.

    Surface is still a billion-dollar business for Microsoft, and most of it is in the Surface Pro line, so it's not exactly a super-niche market, but did any of the other companies produce a Surface Pro competitor that was straight-up better than the Surface Pro? There were a few that came pretty close 2 years ago or so, but nothing stuck. I think that the market is not big enough for the OEMs to spend a lot of effort in it. If they want to sell a high-end device, they're stuck with the inevitable Surface Pro comparisons. If they want to release a low-end device, the aforementioned engineering compromises means that it's not going to be a low-cost device, and low-end markets mean low-end margins, and at that point, they might as well release a regular-form-factor device that has higher margins at the same price. The OEMs have other, bigger markets to chase, and they probably don't want to spend their engineering resources on a category that is dominated in sales and mindshare by a company that specializes in it.

  2. crp0908

    Check out the Dell Latitude 7210 2-in-1.

    • thejoefin

      In reply to crp0908:

      Missed that one, but sadly it is still 8th Gen Intel. I wonder if Dell is going to keep that device type up to date or not.

      • crp0908

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        Sounds like you were looking at the 7200 2-in-1 and not the 7210 2-in-1. Please check the spec sheet found here:

        • thejoefin

          In reply to crp0908:

          Oh yep, when on the 7210 product page for 12" and click over to 14" then clicking back to 12" links to the 7200 product page.

          7210 does have 10th Gen! Looks like a solid option. When comparing prices of a i5 8GB RAM, 256SSD, Surface Pro 7 is $1,200 while the Dell is $1,678. Surprised the price is so different.

  3. anoldamigauser

    The other form factor that has taken off is the folding laptop style. I think they have decided that that is a better. more profitable option to offer.

  4. madthinus

    I think there is just better margin and more demand for portable high performance desktop replacement models. Ultrabooks offer better value and performance for a lot more people. I like my surface, but I will not replace it with a another. a Ultrabook is better suited for the tasks that I use the Surface for and a iPad can fill the gap for the quick work.

  5. codymesh

    my guess is that PC makers realized that people want regular PCs (laptops+desktops) to do work during in 2020 with the pandemic situation.

  6. illuminated

    As a surface owner myself I would need a lot of convincing to buy a tablet from another OEM. Surface is my travel computer. When I travel I need something that is light, rugged and reliable. Surface covers all bases for me. I am not going to switch to Lenovo or some other OEM just to save a few bucks or gain a few percent of CPU performance.

  7. harmjr

    I agree with you that the Surface Pro form factor was being copied a lot there but has since slowed. I think its because of the laptop is still winning and those who want this device want the Microsoft Brand name. So HP and other manufactures are not selling as well. To me that is disappointing. Also notice that most PC makers have all but stopped making Tablets.