The Microsoft Surface Pro is the Windows 2-in-1 detachable hybrid tablet. The Windows 10 tablet is available in a range of prices and configurations, from the $799 base model up to a $2,699 top-of-the-line version. The $2,199 unit includes upgrades like an Intel Core i7-7660U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It’s expensive, but the Surface Pro delivers the design and builds quality along with the speed and overall performance to lure artists and media professionals to the tablet camp.
At first glance, the latest Surface Pro looks almost like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which, until now. At 7.9 by 11.5 by 0.33 inches (HWD) they are the same size and weight (1.75 pounds alone; 2.41 pounds with the Type Cover; 2.45 pounds with the Type Cover and Pen). The edges of the new tablet’s shell are subtly more round, and the vents have been redesigned to look thinner, but you’d have to dig deep to notice other physical differences. The back panel is matte silver/platinum-coloured magnesium alloy. A prominent (and shiny) Windows logo is centred on the kickstand, which enables the touch screen to recline to an almost flat 165-degree angle. As a result, you can easily doodle on the display using a fingertip or the Surface Pen while resting your palm on the screen. Or you can use the optional Surface Dial without danger of it sliding off.
Improved Pen and Keyboard Cover
The new Surface Pen now has stronger magnets to hold it to the tablet, which lets Microsoft omit the pocket clip here. Pressure sensitivity is improved from 1,024 to 4,096 levels from the 2015 iteration of the stylus, giving artists more granular control while creating and modifying images. The Pen also includes new functions for Windows Ink, like tilt-sensitivity, letting you use the pen like a brush.
The Type Cover is covered in Alcantara, a synthetic suede sometimes seen on luxury sports car seats and steering wheel covers. The fabric is comfortable to touch, though it’s the only notable upgrade to the chiclet-style keyboard from the Type Cover of the Surface Pro 4. It’s comfortable to use, and has a two-stage magnetic latch that helps secure and angle the keyboard, though it was somewhat flippy when I tried to type in my lap during the test period. A clamshell like the Surface Laptop works better in this scenario, though I had no trouble using the Signature Type Cover and the Surface Pro for hours at a time at my desk or in a coffee shop. The touchpad is centred, right where you expect it, speeding cursor control when you’re not using the Pen or the touch screen.
The 12.3-inch screen offers a 2,736-by-1,824 resolution and is just as brilliant as the display on the Surface Pro 4. Text and graphics look clear and smooth. Both the Galaxy Book and the Surface Pro are easy to hold in one arm as a drawing slate, though the Surface Pro’s stylus feels a bit quicker to react to comments. The screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is closer to the size of a sheet of paper, after the trend started by the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and continued by much of the competition. It feels more natural to hold in one arm than a 16:9 screen, which feels disproportionately long, and more awkward in hand.
Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 comes with an IR sensor built into its front-facing webcam. This allows you to quickly log on to your Microsoft account by glancing at the screen after you’ve set up Windows Hello. The system comes with TPM 2.0 technology for security, and you can buy an optional $160 Type Cover with a fingerprint reader. The 5-megapixel front-facing camera and 8-megapixel rear-facing camera take clear snapshots and close-ups, though images can get grainy in low light. Since it’s front and centre, the webcam is perfectly situated for Skype calls. Video recording is clear and stutter-free.
Ports are a bit sparse, owing to the Surface Pro’s limited real estate around its circumference. On the left, you’ll find a headset jack. On the right side are the Surface connector (for power and docking), a mini DisplayPort, and a USB 3.0 port. Underneath the kickstand is a micro SD card reader, compatible with up to 256GB cards. There’s a USB charging port on the included AC adapter, so you can juice up your phone and connect a USB hard drive to the tablet simultaneously.
As tested, this next to the last configuration of the Surface Pro comes with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD (an upgrade to 1TB would another $500). The upgraded storage (and its faster Intel Core i7-7660U processor) are most of the reason this model is so expensive, but it’s justifiable being that it’s for digital artists and media creators. The base $799 model comes with 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a lower-powered Intel Core m3 processor.