Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face Pro restyled as a lap­top

What­ever you call it, Kaby Lake CPUs and longer bat­tery life are wel­come changes. MARK HACHMAN re­ports

Windows Advisor - - Contents -

Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face Pro line-up has re­mained largely un­changed for the past two gen­er­a­tions. Now you can make that three: the new Sur­face Pro (2017) – no, not the Sur­face Pro 5 – fea­tures sub­stan­tial in­ter­nal im­prove­ments, but oth­er­wise re­fuses to mess with a good thing.

Rang­ing in price from just £799 to a whop­ping £2,699, the Sur­face Pro is slightly more ex­pen­sive than its Sur­face Pro 4 pre­de­ces­sor, which has been

dis­counted from £749 to £636 at fave.co/2rkruqb. The new Sur­face Pros are avail­able to pur­chase from fave.co/2swwDMH now.

Per­haps the big­gest change is se­man­tic: Mi­crosoft has de­cided to call the Sur­face Pro a ‘lap­top’ rather than a 2-in-1. The firm isn’t aban­don­ing the idea of a ‘tablet that can re­place your lap­top’, but it be­lieves that users now buy Sur­faces as lap­tops, do­ing ev­ery­thing on them that they’d do on tra­di­tional note­books.

The Sur­face Pro (2017) gives Mi­crosoft three fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing the high-per­for­mance Sur­face Book with the Per­for­mance Base and the more bal­anced Sur­face Lap­top. What’s not clear is where Mi­crosoft is go­ing with this ‘lap­top’ re­brand­ing. The Sur­face Pro’s form fac­tor has al­ways had ‘la­pa­bil­ity’ is­sues, and chang­ing the name isn’t go­ing to make that go away. The Sur­face Pro 4 is ag­ing rapidly, how­ever, and we’re glad to see this re­fresh, even if it’s mostly in­ter­nal.

How the Sur­face Pro stacks up

Mi­crosoft Stores will of­fer ‘cus­tom de­vice fit­tings’ to help peo­ple find the Sur­face that’s best for them. Set next to each other, the Sur­face Pro 4 and the £799 Sur­face Pro are vir­tu­ally in­dis­tin­guish­able, es­pe­cially when matched up with the Sur­face Pro 4’s Sig­na­ture Type Cover. Both boast 12.3in Pix­elSense dis­plays, but the new Sur­face Pro (2017) adds a bet­ter key­board, re­clines to a Sur­face Stu­dio-like

165 de­grees, and takes ad­van­tage of a new, more sen­si­tive op­tional Sur­face Pen.

You’ll have the choice of ei­ther a more tra­di­tional Type Cover key­board (£124 from fave.co/2rkoB8V) or

a new Sig­na­ture Type Cover with the Al­can­tara fab­ric for £149 and are avail­able from fave.co/2rTNSDX. The Sur­face Pen will cost £99 from fave.co/2rkBIqM.

In­side, the dif­fer­ences are much more pro­found. The new Kaby Lake chips boost per­for­mance by 20 per­cent, and bat­tery life in­creases from nine hours to about

13.5 hours, about an hour short of the Sur­face Lap­top’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion. And if you don’t like the Sur­face’s fan, you’re in luck – there’s a new, fan­less Core m model, too.

A ‘lap­top’ that looks a lot like a tablet

Some things about the Sur­face Pro haven’t changed. Mi­crosoft still prefers the Sur­face con­nec­tor for charg­ing, for in­stance, rather than the trendy USB-C port. In other ways, the firm changed course from prior gen­er­a­tions. The new Sur­face Pro will go out the door with an

In­tel Core m op­tion (it was a later ar­rival in the prior gen­er­a­tion). None of the new Sur­face Pro de­vices will be sold with a Sur­face Pen. That has noth­ing to do with user re­luc­tance to use the pen, Mi­crosoft says, but merely re­flects that Sur­face own­ers who choose to up­grade may al­ready own one.

In fact, the soft­ware gi­ant is also us­ing the Sur­face Pro’s launch to show off a new Of­fice app that de­pends on the pen: White­board, a col­lab­o­ra­tive app (page 14) where ink can be ap­plied from mul­ti­ple users as part of a shared draw­ing space.

Fu­ture Sur­face Lap­top ver­sions this au­tumn will in­clude a ded­i­cated LTE ver­sion, and, sur­pris­ingly, a ver­sion run­ning its new Win­dows 10 S op­er­at­ing sys­tem. That would be a change of pace, as the Sur­face Pro hard­ware has al­ways show­cased Win­dows 10 Pro.

For Sur­face Pro 4 own­ers, the new Sur­face Pro is a tablet that’s 20 per­cent faster, with 50 per­cent more bat­tery life, all for roughly the same price. If you’re won­der­ing how Mi­crosoft eked out more bat­tery life, ex­ec­u­tives said it was a com­bi­na­tion of an in­creased bat­tery ca­pac­ity as well as ef­fi­cien­cies in both the new Core chip and the Cre­ators Up­date of Win­dows 10.

With the new Sur­face Pro, looks like you’ll have a com­pa­ra­ble se­lec­tion of pro­ces­sors, mem­ory, and stor­age to the Sur­face Pro 4’s. Prices are as fol­lows:

You’ll also be able to select among four colours of ac­ces­sories: The new Sur­face Pen, the im­proved Type Cover, and a Sculpt Mouse will each be avail­able in plat­inum, bur­gundy, cobalt blue or black.

Oth­er­wise, most of the re­vamped Sur­face Pro echoes the older Sur­face Pro 4, in­clud­ing the mem­ory and stor­age con­fig­u­ra­tions. You’ll no­tice slight im­prove­ments here and there, in­clud­ing bet­ter Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and the faster NVME in­ter­face for the ter­abyte stor­age op­tion. Mi­crosoft ex­ec­u­tives also said they’ve rounded the Sur­face Pro’s edges and pushed the cam­eras fur­ther back into the bezel – all rec­og­niz­able fea­tures when some­one points them out, but oth­er­wise small de­tails that you may over­look.

One nice fea­ture you will no­tice, though, is how far back the kick­stand re­clines, to a nearly flat 165 de­grees. Mi­crosoft calls this Stu­dio Mode, in homage to the Sur­face Stu­dio. The re­vamped Sur­face Pro is also the first Mi­crosoft de­vice other than the Sur­face Stu­dio that can use the nifty Sur­face Dial (£89 from fave.co/2rTQHVx) pe­riph­eral di­rectly on the screen it­self.

The as­so­ci­ated pe­riph­er­als are largely iden­ti­cal.

The Sur­face Pro Sig­na­ture Type Cover de­liv­ers 1.33mm of key travel, and is bound in the Al­can­tara fab­ric that ap­pears on the Sur­face Pro 4’s Sig­na­ture Type Cover as well as the Sur­face Lap­top’s key­board deck. On pa­per, the Sur­face Pro Sig­na­ture Type Cover ap­pears to be iden­ti­cal to the Sur­face Pro 4’s Sig­na­ture Type Cover, and felt iden­ti­cal to my fin­gers, too.

Dig­i­tal artists have more to like. The re­designed Sur­face Pen of­fers 4,096 lev­els of pres­sure ac­cu­racy com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sors’ 1,024 lev­els, and it has

tilt sup­port. This means you can ink with the pen, or an­gle it and shade in brush­strokes with the side of the nib, just like a real pen would. The new Sur­face Pen is also a lit­tle longer and sleeker, and it elim­i­nates the clip. Mi­crosoft’s also quite proud of the fact that the new Pen vir­tu­ally elim­i­nates the pen’s latency (now just 26ms) be­tween when you ink a line on the screen, and when the dig­i­tal ink ac­tu­ally ap­pears. Fi­nally, like the Stu­dio, Mi­crosoft now of­fers the op­tion to switch to ‘en­hanced colour’ from SRGB.

For any­one torn be­tween the Sur­face Pro 4 and Sur­face Pro (2017), Mi­crosoft’s new tablet – er, lap­top – looks like a no-brainer up­grade.

£799: 128GB SSD, In­tel Core m3, 4GB RAM £979: 128GB SSD, In­tel Core i5, 4GB RAM £1,249: 256GB SSD, In­tel Core i5, 8GB RAM £1,549: 256GB SSD, In­tel Core i7, 8GB RAM £2,149: 512GB SSD, In­tel Core i7, 16GB RAM £2,699: 1TB SSD, In­tel Core i7, 16GB RAM

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