On last Friday’s episode of MCOJ Daily, Pat and I got a bit heated over the fact that the then rumored Surface Pro was going to be nothing more than a small spec bump to the Surface Pro 4. We pleaded for Microsoft to bring more to the table than a simple processor upgrade, and now that the hardware has officially be announced, we still aren’t entirely sure how we feel about it.
The Surface Pro looks very similar to 2015’s Surface Pro 4, and although this is a fairly small upgrade, there are still a few important changes worth talking about. Here are the 5 things that you need to know about Microsoft’s latest laptop/tablet hybrid…
1. A brand new hinge mechanism
One of the highlight features of the Surface Pro 4 was its super flexible hinge. Unlike the Surface Pro 3’s hinge that only locked into a handful of different angles, the Pro 4 allowed users to position the hinge any angle they wanted. With the latest Surface Pro, Microsoft is giving users even more control by allowing them to bend the hinge so much so that the Surface Pro pretty much lays flat on a table.
The exact nature of the hinge is a 165-degree one, and it’s also been improved so that it won’t snap if you apply a great deal of pressure to it. A lot of inspiration has been taken from the similar hinge mechanism found on the Surface Studio, and it’s a clear sign that Microsoft is really pushing the Surface Pro as a tool for creators.
2. The Surface Pen is more powerful, but it’s no longer a freebie
With the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft included its Surface Pen at no extra charge. The Surface Pen proved to be a great tool for jotting down notes, creating works of digital art, and a lot more. Microsoft is releasing a new Surface Pen alongside the Surface Pro, and it’s biggest selling point is the fact that it will come with tilt detection so that you can produce more accurate shading or inking when drawing on the Pro. Additionally, Microsoft has also ramped up the pressure sensitive levels and reduced the already minimal lag that was present with the previous Pen.
Unfortunately, that new tech is going to come at a cost. Rather than including the Pen for free with the new Surface Pro, you’ll need to hand over another $99 in order to get your hands on it. It’s disappointing that the Surface Pen will no longer ship with the Surface Pro out of the box, but it’s somewhat understandable seeing as how Microsoft is really trying to turn it into a professional tool for creative individuals.
3. Faster processors and improved battery life
As you could probably already guess, the Surface Pro features faster processing tech than what was available with the Surface Pro 4. The new Surface Pro comes equipped with the latest and greatest chipsets from Intel, and you’ll be able to choose between Core m3, i5, and i7 variants. No matter which chipset you get, it’ll be part of Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake lineup. The Kaby Lake processors come with a lot of enhancements over the 6th generation, and one of the biggest improvements is battery life.
Microsoft is advertising that the Surface Pro will be able to deliver up to 13.5 hours of video playback, and if this turns out to be true, that’ll be a massive improvement to what my old Surface Pro 4 managed to kick out. This rated playback time is a 50% increase from Microsoft’s previous hardware, and if the Surface Pro honestly delivers here, this could be one of the laptop/tablet’s most impressive feats.
4. LTE support for browsing on the go
Users of the Surface Pro lineup have been asking Microsoft to add LTE support ever since the original Pro that debuted back in 2013, and the company finally delivered with the 5th iteration of the product. The current Surface Pro models up for pre-order don’t come equipped with this functionality, but Microsoft will release LTE-equipped variants later on down the road.
There’s currently no word on pricing or availability for the LTE Surface Pro, but Microsoft has said that we’ll see them at some point later this year.
5. You’ll be able to purchase a dongle to add USB Type-C
One of the biggest omissions from the new Surface Pro is the lack of USB Type-C. This is an issue that’s also present with the recently announced Surface Laptop, but Microsoft is somewhat addressing this issue by creating a dongle that will provide users of the Surface Pro with a USB-C port. The dongle will attach to the Surface connector port, and you’ll be able to do anything that you can with a traditional USB-C port with it.
It would have been nice if Microsoft added the port to the Surface Pro by default, but at least a workaround will be available. Unfortunately, just like with the LTE models of the Surface Pro, we don’t have any idea as to when the USB-C dongle will be available or how much it’ll cost.
Is the Surface Pro a big enough change?
Even with these 5 additions in mind, it’s still no secret that the Surface Pro is very, very similar to the Surface Pro 4. A lot of people (myself included) were hoping that Microsoft would really shake things up with this latest Surface Pro model, but instead, we got a very marginal upgrade. The new Surface Pro does look like a very capable and powerful machine, but I can’t help shake off the feeling of deja vu here.
Pre-orders for the Surface Pro are live now on Microsoft’s website, with prices ranging from $799 all the way up to $2,699 for the fully specced-out model.Pre-order from Microsoft