Microsoft Surface Pro – Hardware Problems with just two weeks use?

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Microsoft Surface Pro Screen Issue

Update 03-06-2013

We finally got near a Microsoft Store in Northern California. We walked the unit into the store where we had to log in to the Microsoft website to setup an appointment. With no refurbished units in the store they provided us with a new unit. We also found that we were unable to wipe the Surface Pro we had. We were able to backup the files but it appears that the system restore files had been deleted. No one on our team recalls deleting those files. Was the unit we got damaged previously and just cleared and resold? Unlikely since it was bought on launch day. Now we are off to setup the new machine we received.

Yeah, we bought two on release day – did we make a mistake?

We had originally planned on doing a review of the Microsoft Surface Pro 128gb unit we received after using it a month (for our clients). Now it looks like it might not even make the month. As traveling businesses consultants we were naturally happy for the Surface Pro form factor. It seemed a good fit for our business use, so despite any misgiving of buying a first generation product, we bought two on the release date.

Two main hardware problems so far

We won’t bore you with the whole purchasing fiasco, that’s a post by itself. What we are here to discuss is the hardware problems that appeared two weeks after purchase. The first issue we can classify as minor; the unit only recognizes you removing/adding the keyboard about 50% of the time. This fault seems to apply to both our units and per Microsoft’s website lots of others. The other issue is very serious and so far is only affecting one unit – the screen is starting to have major issues (see the pictures). The problem, if not clear, is that the screen is becoming interlaced, losing colors, flickering, blacking out, etc. Yet when connected to an external monitor the picture on the monitor is fine. This indicates a loose connector on the screen. We read the ifixit review so our guess is the glue holding the screen on is beginning to loosen and the connectors are starting to come loose also. Putting normal pressure on the lower left hand part of the screen sometimes fixes the problem sometimes makes it worse. The problem seems to be getting progressively worse. (In fact twice during this post the screen went completely out, but would return after a reboot).

A little background and a question to other surface pro users

First no the unit has not received any traumatic experience and no attempt at all has been made to open the unit. We have mainly been used this unit 75% time as a desktop hooked to a wireless keyboard and a monitor. The other 25% of use has been used in meetings and browsing the web etc. The whole time it has been in a case, never rough handled, yet actually handled with kid gloves (this unit replaced an old Fujitsu Lifebook convertible notebook P1620 after nearly used for nearly 5 years). What about the other unit? Well it has been used as a desktop for almost 95% of the time so we wouldn’t say it has had much chance of being tested. So that is the reason for our post. Is anyone else having this problem? Did we just get a flaky unit or is this an ominous sign of a impending disaster for Microsoft?

Some feedback to Microsoft – if they care

We are the first to acknowledge the Surface Pro, in it’s current state, will not appeal to a mass audience, but it’s certainly going in a good direction. We think it will have greater appeal when the weight is lower, the screen not so awkward ratio, the bezels are reduced for a bigger screen and the battery life is closer to 6-8 hours. We know that most of those technical limitations will be addressed in the next product cycle or two. What however is of concern is just how clueless Microsoft is in the advertising and the release of this device. If the people you targeted bought this thing we can’t see how they would like it, why would they? You spent the whole commercial highlighting the taking on and off the keyboard. Great if it actually worked 100% of the time and not just about 50%. Then the pen input, again nice if it actually worked in apps people would use it in such as Adobe reader. Then the launch of this thing? We were pulling for you there, but talk about messing up a launch! No pre-orders and no stock! Unless you consider that a couple of days earlier Best Buy does their buy a gift card and get a reservation. That that would have been OK if they had more than one in stock on release day. So you end up having on the handful of Microsoft Stores having them in stock. We had drove two hours to pick ours units up. That would be understand for a hot product, but this was not due to popular demand, this was intentional shortages. Now two weeks later while on a long business trip one of the units is going out. If we had got a competitors device an exchange would be minutes away with little trouble, instead we are 3-4 hours away from any Microsoft Store. In addition we are told we can’t take it to a best buy store for an exchange or even use the Microsoft online store. We just hope this unit won’t completely go out before we can get to Microsoft store sometime next week. When we do, we sure hope they will get the unit working or replace it. And we sure hope that when we go overseas for the next three month business trip that it won’t break. So in hindsight we thought we were the ideal Microsoft customer, but now we are not so sure, in fact we don’t know who is anymore.”

Other pictures

Microsoft Surface Pro 128gb Screen Issue

Microsoft Surface Pro Severe Screen Issue

Note: Since these pictures we have had complete whiteout and blackout of the screen.

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