Microsoft Surface Pro: Elegant, Ultra-Light and Versatile (Review)

Published October 22nd, 2017 - 02:40 GMT
You'll get both the Surface Pen and Type Cover when you purchase the new Microsoft Surface Pro in the UAE. (Courtesy of Microsoft)
You'll get both the Surface Pen and Type Cover when you purchase the new Microsoft Surface Pro in the UAE. (Courtesy of Microsoft)

Amid an ocean of numbering conventions for tech products nowadays, Microsoft, for some reason, refused to attach '5' to its latest computing machine. Well, maybe calling it the 'new' Surface Pro has some thinly-veiled message into it.

So yes, here we are with the latest incarnation of Microsoft's 2-in-1 killing machine. The previous Surface Pros have no doubt impressed, so there's no reason the 2017 version won't be able to do so.

To start off, while it won't really be that obvious since it looks like the 4 (and even 3) before it, there's a little redesign to the new Surface Pro. It now boasts corners that are more rounded, complementing that really-crisp 12.3-inch PixelSense display, and the edges still contain the usual suspects found in its predecessor: mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0, Surface Connector charging port and microSD slot to the right; power and volume buttons on top; and little ol' 3.5mm audio jack to the left.

Hmm, something's missing here: for some reason, Microsoft still hasn't slapped in a USB Type-C port - that may leave a gaping hole if we talk about future-proofing this device.

Yep, the Surface Pen is still where you expect it to be.

Some good news though, to look forward to: Microsoft has said that it will be launching an LTE version of this new device, and word has it that it has an expected December release. The kickstand, meanwhile, is now deeper at 165 degrees compared to the 4's150 degrees.

While it may sound as purely aesthetic (plus making it a bit more versatile), it seems that the reason for this is that the new Surface Pro, by default, supports the Surface Dial, that hockey puck-looking accessory that you can even place on top of its screen that shows radial menus and can act as an additional input method.

The Surface Dial can do a whole lot of things for you.

Speaking of accessories, what's a Surface Pro without the Surface Pen? Microsoft's own stylus has been bumped up, now with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity - four times that of its predecessor's 1,024. Oh, and it still clings to the left side of the device, and I actually feel a stronger magnet to hold it there. At launch, Microsoft said it's twice as fast as the Apple Pencil, thanks to its latency (the speed at which the screen responds to the input device) of 21ms - though it didn't take long for One Infinite Loop to fire back as it came out with a new Pencil that had 20ms. I'm not an artist, but I can tell if a stylus is good - and the Surface Pen doesn't disappoint.

 

For good measure, I had some friends who actually draw to test it out, and they were pretty impressed with it. And good news: you'll get both the Surface Pen and Type Cover (which hasn't changed much for me) when you buy the device here in the UAE. Apparently, the former is sold separately in certain markets - just goes to show how the UAE is important to Microsoft.

The burgundy color, though.

Battery life, meanwhile, has also been improved - and it's arguably among the best boosts in this iteration. With the transition to Intel's new 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors, Microsoft claims that the new Surface Pro has a nutty up-to-13.5 hours of juice - a mind-boggling 50 per cent more than the 4.

That's a big edge over the new versions of the iPad Pro and HP Elite X2, both of which claim 10 hours. Of course, battery life will always depend on what you're doing with your machine; in this case, I was able to churn out well over 10 hours with some mixed use, sprinkled with a movie and occasional games.

Final word..

In the age of portability and versatility, Microsoft has done well in improving its Surface Pro year after year, and this new one is on top with the best out there. So that thinly-veiled message is now clear: this is a beast, no doubt, with few kinks really - but if you'd want the absolute top-of-the-line version, you'll have to shell out five figures in dirhams.

The specs

 Processor Up to Intel Core 7th-generation i7 (Kaby Lake)
 Graphics Up to Intel Iris Plus 640
 Memory 4/8/16GB
 Storage 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
 Display 12.3" PixelSense, 2736 x 1824, 267ppi
 Platform Windows 10 Pro
 Battery Up to 13.5h
 Connectivity USB 3.0, microSDXC, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, 3.5mm audio
 Camera Main: 8MP with full HD video; front: 5MP with Windows Hello
 Audio Dolby Audio Premium
 Wireless Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
 Price Dh4,499/Dh5,699/Dh6,699/Dh8,899/Dh10,799

By Alvin Cabral


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