Microsoft Surface Pro: Refining excellence
Introduction, Design and Features
When we reviewed the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 about two years ago, we came to the conclusion that it was capable of putting the age-old dilemma of choosing between a notebook or a tablet to rest. In fact, we even went so far as to call it a notebook killer.
But it wasn’t without merit, however. The Surface Pro 4 packed sufficient punch to put several full-fledged notebooks to shame, and the fact that its keyboard could be detached made it decidedly more portable than its traditional clamshell counterparts. What’s more, with a thickness of 8.5mm and a weight of 786g, the Surface Pro 4 was easily thinner and lighter than most Ultrabooks.
Seeing that Microsoft managed to strike a homerun with the Surface Pro 4, the biggest challenge for the Redmond-based company now, would be finding a way to take its legacy to greater heights – a momentous responsibility that is left in the hands of its successor, the new Surface Pro.
Design and features
The first thing about the new Surface Pro that you’re bound to notice is its 12.3-inch PixelSense multi-touch display, which has a resolution of 2,736 x 1,824 and a 3:2 aspect ratio. Crunch the numbers, and you’ll end up with a pixel density of 267 PPI, which, for notebook display standards, is actually very impressive.
Yes, the display of the new Surface Pro is identical to that of the Surface Pro 4. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since everything on-screen appeared incredibly sharp and crisp, while colors were invitingly vibrant and contrasty. We watched an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix on the new Surface Pro, and found ourselves mesmerized by just how visually pleasing the colors (and food) were.
It’s worth mentioning that the display of the new Surface Pro can be turned up to blinding levels if you’re completely ignorant about the importance of your eyesight. This also means that you won’t be distracted (or mesmerized) by your own reflection when using the new Surface Pro outdoors against the glare of the sun.
The 0.7kg weight of the new Surface Pro – which is near-identical to the weight of the Surface Pro 4 – makes it lightweight enough to be held with a single hand when you’re using it as a tablet. And no, you won’t feel the muscles in your arm tightening up after doing so for extended periods. The magnesium chassis of the new Surface Pro is pretty sleek, too, measuring it at only 8.5mm – just like the Surface Pro 4.
And when the time comes for you to get some proper work done, all you have to do, is magnetically attach the new Surface Pro to its Signature Type Cover, and have it propped up using the incredibly sturdy kickstand on its back. Voilà – you now have a notebook.
Now, the Signature Type Cover wouldn’t be named as such if it doesn’t exude a sense of opulence and extravagance, which, in its case, is represented by white-backlit keys with three brightness levels, and the very liberal use of Alcantara fabric – the exact same kind of material that you’d find lining the interior of high-end sports cars.
The Signature Type Cover can be laid completely flat on the desk, or attached at an angle against the new Surface Pro for better typing ergonomics. We don’t know about you, but we certainly prefer the latter of the two typing positions, since it felt distinctly more natural to type on.
In fact, we were pleasantly surprised by how we could spend an entire day getting some serious typing work done using the Signature Type Cover of the new Surface Pro, considering our love-hate relationship with notebook keyboards in general. We’re guessing this also has something to do with its keys, which seem to have a decent amount of travel and a prominent tactile bump when actuated.
Located right beneath the space bar of the keyboard is its rectangular-shaped trackpad, which might not be the final word in terms of spaciousness, but we’re not complaining, since its default tracking speed is more than adequate to move the mouse cursor from one corner of the screen to the other with a single quick stroke – no repetitive swiping needed. The left and right buttons are satisfyingly crisp and tactile, too.
The two front-facing speakers of the new Surface Pro are loud and clear enough for you to follow the conversations in your favorite shows on Netflix, even if you left the volume slider at its halfway point. Its sound quality is decent, though you would probably be left wanting if you’re going to be comparing it against that of your audiophile-grade headphones.
As far as connectivity ports are concerned, the new Surface Pro has a single USB 3.0 port, a microSDXC card reader, a 3.5mm audio port, and a Mini DisplayPort. We’re not sure why Microsoft didn’t go with a full-sized SD card reader instead, which would have made it much easier for photographers to upload and edit their photos on the move.