Microsoft has officially announced its latest Surface Pro convertible tablet hybrid at an event in Shanghai. The company had previously suggested it would not be launching a new Pro, outright denying that it has been working on a Pro 5. The reason is now clear as Microsoft has dropped the number entirely.
The new Surface Pro was introduced this morning. It’s the second new Surface product to be unveiled this month, following Microsoft’s first proper laptop in the form of Surface Laptop. The company said that the new Pro is built for the fans of the Pro 4 who’ve been asking for upgraded hardware. This is what Microsoft has delivered, focusing on lifting performance to a new level through revamped internals.
The available processor choices are now taken from Intel’s 7th-generation Kaby Lake family, giving a noticeable boost to performance and efficiency. Options ranging from the low-end Core m3 all the way up to the Core i7 will be available. With the exception of the i7, all of the chips are passively cooled so there’s no noisy fan to interrupt your work.
Externally, Microsoft hasn’t made any radical changes. At first glance, it’s still the same Surface that the company has been selling since 2014’s Pro 3 ushered in the current 12.3-inch form factor. The PixelSense display now features enhanced color powered by custom-built hardware which is meant to make creative work more vibrant and “captivating.”
Improving on one of the noted shortcomings of the Surface Pro 4, the new device features a much longer battery life for extended on-the-go computing. Microsoft claims it will last 13.5 hours on a single charge, although this will vary with the processor picked and the exact software configuration. Going on the spec sheet figure, the quoted runtime is 50 percent higher than the Pro 4 and 35 percent higher than the iPad Pro.
Although the basic chassis design is unchanged, Microsoft has significantly upgraded the signature Surface kickstand. It now has a 165-degree range of motion which lets the device lie almost flat against a desk, like Microsoft’s Surface Studio all-in-one PC. The company suggested the new mode will make it easier to write and draw on the device.
Inking itself has also received a major upgrade. The new Surface Pen is four times as precise as the outgoing model, capable of detecting 4,096 distinct degrees of pressure. The active stylus has “almost no latency” for pixel-perfect writing, creating an experience of ink flowing that Microsoft claims is almost as good as the real thing. It allows for new subtlety in digital artwork and creates a more personal link between you and the device.
Surface’s other primary accessory, the well-regarded Type Cover keyboard, has been updated too. It’s now covered in soft-touch Alcantara fabric, a material that also features on the Surface Laptop and some Type Covers for older Surface Pro products. Besides the new “natural allure and warmth” created by the Alcantara, the keyboard features an improved 1.3mm of key travel for a more accurate typing experience.
All things considered, the new Surface Pro is a well-rounded refresh of the range. With faster processors, dramatic battery life improvements and some meaningful usability adjustments to design, typing and ink, Microsoft’s evidently attempting to affirm its now respected position as the leader in convertible products. Its blog post introducing the device slyly points out that’s its 1.7 times faster than the iPad Pro, its primary rival.
“The new Surface Pro is gorgeous. The design, the clean lines and curved edges are beautiful to see and touch,” said Surface head Panos Panay. “Surface Pro continues the iconic look and feel of previous Surface Pros, but has been completely redesigned from the inside out. We’ve optimized every millimeter, with over 800 new custom parts and used 99% of the space inside the device – to give people exactly what they need to work and create anytime, anywhere.”
The 2017 Surface Pro and Signature Type Cover are available to pre-order from the Microsoft Store in 25 regions worldwide starting from today. Pricing starts at $799.99 and will vary with configuration and country. Devices will begin to ship in all markets on June 15. The new Surface Pen will launch in a few weeks’ time.
[Featured Image by Microsoft]