Surface Pro & RobotC

Interested to see if anyone is using a Surface Pro (any gen) with RobotC and your thoughts on it. The size and portability of these machines intrigue me for taking home, to tournaments, etc. We currently use dated 17" Dell workstations that are heavy and have poor battery life. However they run RobotC without issue and are very reliable. At our school site we have more powerful computers for CAD so the primary purpose of these machines would be for programming using RobotC. Portability and battery life is paramount without sacrificing performance. What are your thoughts on the screen size of the Surface Pro?

Beyond the Surface Pro if others have recommendations for laptops / tablets / hybrids with good battery life and performance I would be interested. Thanks.

We had one person try and it did not work well. I am not sure if it is USB3.0 or some other reason.

They went back tot heir old laptop and did not try and resolve it. This was November 2014 time frame. Not sure if Robot C has made changes since then.

For laptops, I highly recommend a good dell latitude laptop. They are powerful, compact, and the keyboard and feel is very comfortable. Is perfect for programming with RobotC.

Works ok. Might be some other software conflict or a loose usb port.

RobotC works well even with a cheap lenovo flex, asus Eee, or what ever. This by itself is not too memory intensive. A touchscreen can be a little annoying for something small like this but works fine when you do not want to use a mouse.

I used a Surface last year for programming when computers were not an option. There were definitely some ups and downs to Surfaces. The only reason we used Surfaces ever was to program at the field, or when we needed to program at the tournament.


  • It are extremely portable and can easily be brought with you to tournaments.


  • There are really small and hard on your eyes.
  • There is not a great place to set them down when programming near the field.
  • they can get stolen very easily.
  • They have only one USB port.

Overall, I would say they are a last ditch effort if every other option is simply not an option. I would recommend something bigger like a laptop or desktop computer. I would also recommend bringing the Surfaces when you travel with your robot though.

I used a Surface Pro (1st gen) and a Dell 17" XPS laptop this past year. Both worked very well and for the most part I enjoyed using the XPS because of its large screen size and full-size keyboard. The Surface is nice because it is compact and doesn’t take much effort to tote around. Towards the end of the year when I didn’t need to be writing as much code (simply refining magic numbers), I almost exclusively used my Surface.

As far as people having issues with the USB port, I don’t know what they’re talking about - of all devices a Windows driver should work on, the Surface should be the one. I’ve used both the standard USB A-A and the USB-Serial kit.

I’ll tell you the same thing I tell everyone else who’s thought about getting a Surface: if you don’t honestly see yourself using the pen and touch capabilities of the Surface, then don’t get it. You can buy yourself a better laptop at the same price point. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using OneNote to do all my homework this year, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Feel free to private message me if you have any questions.

It is likely not the USB 3.0. I use an ASUS laptop with a USB3 port and a USB 3.0 powered hub and it works just fine.

My Surface Pro 3 i5 is pretty great for non 3D intensive applications. The keyboard cover blows and I would pretty much never use it to seriously code, but there are Bluetooth keyboards out there and you can always dock the tablet when at the school doing work.

As a competition PC I think it should work pretty well for what you’ve specified.

If you need alternative. Here is the one we use for code and travel. Have all the software we need installed. Works fine with win 7, 8, linux. We got the model one below this at the time for less than 200.

It flexes full like a tablet. Had both usb 3 and 2 ports, both work fine. Thin, lightweight, touchscreen + touchpad. Stay cheap, light if you do not need a power horse.

I agree with Cody. I have a SP3 and it is amazing. Not sure why people have had problems. The Surface Pro is a laptop. Same hardware/software, in an awesomely small package.

I wouldn’t want to write 2000 lines of code with it every day, but the screen on a SP3 is just as big if not bigger than a lot of the tiny cheap laptops I see people using at competitions.

I would not buy a SP3 just for RobotC, it is total overkill. But if you have one already or want one for other purposes, it will also serve you well in robotics.