Microsoft's Surface Pro is our favorite detachable 2-in-1 right now, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the perfect choice for everyone. Despite having the best display and detachable keyboard around, the Surface Pro still has a few weaknesses, such as a limited selection of ports and mediocre battery life.
On top of that, while its $799 starting price is pretty attractive, you'll probably want to spend a bit more to get the $1,299 midrange model with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. And that price doesn't include the $100 Surface Pen or the $160 Type Cover. That puts the true cost of a Surface Pro closer to $1,500 — and that ain't cheap.
So to help in your search for your ideal machine, we've compiled a list of our favorite alternatives to Microsoft's Surface Pro.
HP Spectre x360: Our favorite traditional 2-in-1
If you like the flexibility of the Surface Pro but want something that feels a bit more substantial, check out the HP Spectre x360, one of our top Surface Pro alternatives. With a battery life of 10 hours and 6 minutes, the Spectre x360 lasts 2.5 hours longer than the Surface Pro on a charge. Additionally, because the Spectre x360 relies on a beefy hinge instead of kickstand for stability, it's easier to use in your lap while still offering the convertibility you'd expect from a top-notch 2-in-1. And if you feel like splurging, you can even opt for a super-high-res 4K display. The main downside of the Spectre x360 is that, with its bigger 13.3-inch screen and thicker body, it's not quite as portable as the Surface Pro.
Asus Transformer Pro: A Surface Clone For Half the Price
Let's not mince words, the Asus Transformer Pro is an unabashed Surface Pro clone; from its design right down to the placement of its logo. But it's a really good clone. It includes a high-res 12.5-inch display, solid folding kickstand, stylus support and a detachable keyboard that unlike the Surface Pro's Type Cover, comes included with the system. You even get both types of USB ports and a HDMI port to boot. But the best thing about Asus' knock-off is its price. With an Intel Atom CPU, the Transformer Pro can be had for as little as $349, and when equipped with a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, the Transformer Pro costs just $989 versus over $1,700 for an equivalent Surface Pro. There is one important trade off though: significantly less battery life.
iPad Pro: The closest thing to a Surface Pro from Apple
There still isn't a MacBook with a touch screen, but the iPad Pro is the closest you can get to a Surface Pro from Apple. Available in 10.5- and 12.9-inch sizes, the iPad Pro features a superbright Retina display, quad speakers and optional LTE connectivity. When you want to get down to work, you can grab an Apple Pencil for drawing and sketching, or attach Apple's Smart Keyboard cover when you need to do some typing. However, unlike Microsoft's Type Cover, the Smart Keyboard doesn't have a touchpad, meaning you'll need to tap on the screen to navigate the iPad's user interface. If you're looking for a desktop-like working environment, you'll want to wait for iOS 11 to arrive this fall.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet: A detachable for business
While the Surface Pro's magnesium body is pretty sturdy, it doesn't have the kind of durability a lot of businesses really need. That's where Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Tablet comes in. It has a rugged, detachable body, and it's passed the military's MIL-STD-810G standards for toughness. It's also compatible with a handful of durable accessories and unlike the Surface Pro, its pen and detachable keyboard come included. And because the X1 Tablet's kickstand flips down rather than folding out, it features a much stabler design for working in awkward locations. The downside is that, with a price of $1,499 for an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, the X1 Tablet doesn't offer much savings versus the Surface Pro.
Samsung Chromebook Pro: A potent Chromebook convertible
Now that many Chromebooks have support for Android apps, systems such as the Samsung Chromebook Pro are simple and affordable ways to get a fantastic 2-in-1 experience. You won't have to sacrifice too much on specs, either, as the Chromebook Pro includes a 12.3-inch, 2400 x 1600 touch screen; an Intel Core m3 CPU; and a stylus that's built into the body of the machine. The only real issue is that the Chromebook Pro has the newer USB Type-C ports, so if you have older peripherals or accessories, you'll need to get an adapter to connect them to the Chromebook Pro.
Finally, if you're looking for a device that's similar to a Surface Pro but with a twist, consider Microsoft's Surface Laptop. It offers almost all of the same functionality but in a traditional laptop body. The older Surface Pro 4 is also still a great device, especially with its recently discounted price.
Sam is a former penguin trainer and archery instructor who dabbles in esports and has lived on three different continents. If you have some comments on new tech or the best noodle spots in NYC, drop a line @SamRutherford.