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New Surface Pro is the best Pro 4, improves where it counts: hands-on review

With the new Surface Pro, Microsoft made a good thing better.

On the top, let’s point out that it is not called the Surface Pro 5 — it is simply the “new Surface Pro.” And although it seems as if the Surface Pro 4, I have a hands-on time with the new device at a Microsoft Store in Los Angeles and it is very different.

The most eye-catching change is within. The new Surface Pro packs Intel’s latest 7th Generation of Core processors, besting the 6th Generation of Core processors in the Surface Pro 4.

Intel’s latest chips deliver better performance, particularly when handling video and longer life of the battery. In general, each new generation of Intel processors feature a range of improvements (albeit, often small, improvements) that developers do not always use the right away. So a number of performance improvements to be seen later than previously.

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Microsoft says that new Surface Pro delivers “50% more battery life and 50% more performance than the Surface Pro 4”, according to Microsoft’s description of the functions.

The new Surface Pro with Windows 10 Pro, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and an Intel Core-m3 processor is $799. With 8 gb RAM, 256 gb storage, and a Core i5 chip, it is $1,299. The Surface Pro Signature Type Cover keyboard/cover is sold separately for $159.99.

Keyboard still the key

The new Surface Pro Type Cover keyboard is still sold separately. I’ve always thought it strange that Microsoft does not sell the Surface Pro as standard with the detachable keyboard, because it is such an integral part of the appliance: pull the Pro’s default keyboard and turn the tablet into a laptop (after all, the Surface Pro is, in itself, only a tablet). And connect the keyboard to the top of the display and it serves as a protective shield.

The new Surface model comes with Alcantara keyboards in different colors: platinum, cobalt blue and burgundy. Alcantara is the material around the keys and the trackpad. It is a soft, suede-like material usually found on luxury cars. It shows up on the steering wheel, door panels, among other things.

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For me, the Alcantara keyboards look like carpet, and that is not a compliment. It is also sensitive to stains, but Microsoft says that it is a “durable, stain-resistant material… designed and easy to clean.”

But it is still a great keyboard to type on-in fact, it is one of the best keyboards on a laptop of today. It offers a good distance that is necessary is to press the button and is easy on the fingers.

But wait, there’s more

The new Surface Pro is a new hinge that you can use the Surface Pro in so-called “Studio Mode” — almost completely flat.

There are additional features, including a new stylus. Sold separately for $99, has the tilt-support, in 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and has much less activation force than the previous pens.

There is a built-in option for 4G/LTE, later this year, which marks a first for the Surface Pro. This is a good option to have and more Windows laptops offer.

Final thoughts

 

I owned the first Surface Pro in 2013 and owned by a succession of Surface Pros. There is a reason that it’s a popular convertible device: it’s incredibly easy to switch between tablet and laptop mode, and Microsoft probably does better than anyone else on finding a good balance between these two modes.

The nominal 13.5 hours of battery life will the Surface area of the fans and that alone should be a reason to upgrade (with a better performance, to boot). And that you do not lose life of the battery by opening and closing the device (via the keyboard), a problem on the previous versions of the Surface Pro.

The new Surface Pro is available from June 15.

 

 

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