First look: Microsoft Surface Pro

Surface Pro
Microsoft's Surface Pro



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23 May 2017 | 0

At an event in Shanghai, Microsoft has revealed the latest edition to the Surface family of devices the Surface Pro. While this is the fifth device to be introduced in this line, it will not be known as the Surface Pro 5.

The new device retains the overall dimensions of the Pro 4, but with softened lines for easier handling. The headline details of the new device are a 50% jump in battery life, and a 20% performance improvement with no weight or size penalties. Not only that, the Core M and i5 versions are fanless, while the i7 versions have the quietest fans of any Pro in the Surface line yet.

Shirley Finnerty, Windows Business Group lead, Microsoft Ireland, spoke to TechPro about the new device.

After receiving feedback from the five years of the Surface device line, Microsoft looked to refine and improve the Pro to make it all about “unlocking the creator in all of us,” said Finnerty.

While the 2 in 1 form factor has seen massive uptake among professionals and mobile warriors, the Surface has also had a significant impact among creatives. To that end, Microsoft is looking for the new Surface Pro to not only facilitate artists, designers and inventors, but also to facilitate everyone in channelling their creativity through a rich feature set.

Pen input is a key part of that strategy, in several forms. Firstly, citing a Norwegian University of Science and technology study that showed that students retain information better when it is handwritten as opposed typed, the new Pro has an all new pen. The pen now has 4096 levels of sensitivity, or a four-fold increase, with better tilt functionality, which is critical in shading. So whether it is capturing handwritten notes or being used as a sketch pad, the new pen, with ultra-low latency of 21 ms, can handle it, providing the closest experience to paper yet.

Finnerty said that the stand hinge has also been improved providing an almost lie flat stance that further facilitates creative input, particularly for use with Surface Dial. The new Pro is fully compatible with the impressive Surface Dial device, first introduced with the Surface Studio, on its 313mm (12.3”) Pixel screen.

The new Surface Pro is backward compatible with Surface Pro 4 accessories, and certain Pro 3 add-ons too. However, the new Pro gets an all new Type cover that features an improved, full-size keyboard, five-point touch trackpad and a choice of colours and the Alcantara trim. The Alcantara trim has a new coating for durability and stain resistance.

The design of the Pro, said Finnerty, is described as “acoustically quieter,” which means that sharper lines and features have been smoother for a more pleasing look and more comfortable handling.

There will be a 4G LTE version of the Surface Pro too, but this will not be available until approximately 3 months after initial device availability.

There are the expected connectivity options, but a, perhaps curious, omission is a USB Type C connector, though USB 3.0 ports are provided.

It is hoped that the performance and battery boosts, as well as additional capabilities for the Pro will spur sales. In recent figures, the Surface line had shown something of a decline, despite strong growth previously. With a strong offering in the Surface family at various levels, Microsoft looks set to take on rivals in the space. However, the omission of a Type C USB option may hamper that as others in the market embrace the increasingly popular option.

The new Surface Pro is available for pre-order now and will get a full release on 15 June and will be available in six configurations. Unfortunately it won’t come cheap. The basic 128Gb/Core m3/4Gb RAM model comes in at €959 and goes up to €3,149 for the 1Tb/Intel Core i7/16Gb RAM version.


TechCentral reporters

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