Think of the Surface Pro series as a Katana sharpened constantly with each iteration.
As ambitious an idea as the original Surface Pro was, it had all sorts of rough edges to iron out before it could to attain undisputed glory. It’s slowly yet steadily evolved into an idea so promising, emulations have come forward from various top players but Microsoft still reigns supreme in its space.
Without fixing something that ain’t broke, Microsoft’s continued refining the Surface Pro and the latest in line is its most potent concoction yet. Having clearly established the need for a hybrid machine, Microsoft goes for glory by dropping the numbers and christening its latest champion quite simply the new Surface Pro. Is it a versatile dream of a woeful disappointment? No prizes for guessing what happens next…
THE 12.3IN DISPLAY: WHY CHANGE PERFECTION?
You know what beauty is if you’ve gazed at a PixelSense screen long enough. It’s what Microsoft loaded into the Surface Pro 4 and thank the pixel Gods things haven’t changed since. The 3:2 ratio, 12.3in screen packs a native 2736x1824 resolution and it’s pin sharp at 267ppi. Don’t let those numbers sway you just yet. It’s all about the eventual experience, and the Surface Pro screen is one of pure excellence.
Calibrated to the t, colours pop and brightness soars on the sunniest of days displaying exquisite subtlety even when you turn it down for some quick work like emails at night in bed. Prod at the screen and it responds with promptness. We’ve put our eyes through long days at work in your best interest of course, only to realise it causes zero fatigue. Activate ‘Night Light’ from sunrise to sunset and the added warmth is an absolute spa for your sight.
PERFORMANCE: MORE THAN POWERFUL ENOUGH FOR DAY-TO-DAY USE
Here’s where the Surface Pro’s stealthy ways shine like never before. In appearance, it’s a tablet-hybrid form. In practice, its power packs quite a punch. You have a choice between three Intel chips: the base m3, the midrange i5 and a top-of-the-line i7. Storage and RAM max out at 512GB and 16GB respectively. All backed by 13.5hours of juice on a single charge. Tasty numbers, innit? Our review sample housed a neatly balanced i5 / 256GB SSD/ 8GB RAM configuration which we were secretly hoping for. What’s that like in the real world? Perfect!
Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch cause these are very much 7th gen chips but every dark cloud… you see, its fanless design is true aural nirvana. You can punch away at work in spiritual silence without having to worry about overheating. Moreover, that’s oomph aplenty for most users looking to dismiss a full day’s worth of routine office work. You’ll hear it huff and puff a bit with extended sessions of InDesign / Paint 3D but for videos, web, music, emails and even a quick splash of gaming it’s a smooth sailing experience.
PRACTICALITY: LIGHTER, LEANER, LONGER-LASTING
The Surface Pro makes a strong case for itself as a portable powerhouse and this sensation only grows stronger with time. A current MacBook Air user, i’m all too familiar with the perks of portable power. But, the Surface Pro has recalibrated my expectations to a different degree entirely. Fact is, you can do much better with your money if you pick a proper laptop / tablet in its place. But if you want a bit of both, you’ll keep coming back to the Pro.
Snap on the separately sold detachable Type Cover and it’s a work machine par excellence. With a magnetic mechanism holding it in place, it’s far from fiddly to remove or put back on and even acts as a screen protector when put away. The 1.3mm travel that the keys provide offer feedback in spades and enough to punch away at them at furious pace. This entire review has been brought to you via a Surface Pro in fact. A slight trade off here is the backing board resonance it comes with considering it’s a keyboard housed inside a cover. Combined, the whole setup weighs a hair over a kilo.
FEATURES: THE BARE BASICS AND NO MORE
What your money certainly doesn’t buy you here is a plethora of ports. Regardless of how much you spend, your new Surface will come with a single USB3.0 port, one mini displayport, a single microSDXC card slot under the rear hinge, a headphone socket, and the power port that’s bespoke to the Surface range (none of that USB-C nonsense here). The power of portability comes with its best friend: the dongle life. One you’ll have to embrace as your own choice.
In my humble experience, i’ve kept the socketry down to a minimum with a wireless mouse and wireless headphones. The single USB also serves my purpose when it comes to the occasional data transfer. But I can imagine a more demanding media fiend dismissing the whole proposition at once glance. So, if you must have the option to plug into an army of ports at any time, well, thanks for reading and have a good day.
A SCRIBBLER’S DELIGHT
You’ve now arrived at my favourite bit. My review of the Surface Pen would’ve been restricted to doodles and quick designs but you, lucky reader, get to hear about the experience from an artist extraordinaire. At least my mum thinks so. Thanks mum. But you’ll be glad to know that the device single handedly revived my artistic skills or whatever’s left of it with its impressive accuracy and detail.
When the Pen met an old friend called Paint (3D), magic is precisely what followed. With its 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, the Pen nailed every stroke with pinpoint precision minus any unwanted lag. It’s no small investment, mind. But if detailed designs are what you desire, there’s little reason to look elsewhere. It even snaps to the magnetic sides of the screen making for an efficient and well-equipped work kit.
Surface Pro Type cover: from ₹10,999
Surface Pen: ₹7999
Surface Arc Mouse: ₹6399
THE SOFTWARE: WINDOWS 10 WITH A TOUCH OF FLUENT
The full fat experience follows through from the hardware to something as critical as the software too. Goodbye Windows 10 S, hello Windows 10 Pro. On the Surface Pro, it’s a fantastic showcase for Windows 10’s successful balancing of desktop and tablet usability. That said, there’s no running away from the dated ways of certain interface elements. Case in point: Windows File Explorer.
Microsoft’s Fluent Design language comes to your rescue to a certain extent. It’s the PC giant’s way of keeping you in its warm embrace with constant updates to the OS and its apps. Truth be told, it’s a visual relief but the OS still has ways to go to match up to the intuitive cleanliness of its fruit flavoured rival.
At this point the Surface Pro is a proven idea. At least to its critics. But the uninitiated will strongly dismiss its asking price calling it far too steep for a glorified tablet. Microsoft’s confidence in this matter is commendable sticking to its guns for the quality piece of hardware that it offers combined with portable convenience you just can’t match elsewhere.
Can you look at competitors for a better deal? Possibly. But, you just can’t deny the Surface Pro’s serious appeal in several aspects. It’s pristinely premium hardware and certainly feels it, it’s a joy to use, it’s a portable powerhouse par excellence and its versatility is simply astounding. Microsoft’s upgraded the true ninja in its arsenal in meaningful ways.
But, it all comes at a cost. To make it a menacing machine, you’ve got to invest in the additional Type Cover and possibly the Surface Pen and they don’t come cheap. With a current gen chip inside and costs cut just that little bit extra, it could easily convince the world of its crazy powers. But as is, it will have to contend with a 4 star rating.