Instead of calling it the “Surface Pro 5,” Microsoft’s recently released laptop/tablet hybrid is now simply known as the “Surface Pro.” The reviews, such as the one on Engadget, note how good the device is, but incorrectly make you believe that the new Pro is only a minor upgrade from the previous Surface Pro.
The unit used for this review is a mid-level unit that costs $1,299 (without the Type Cover and new Surface Pen), has an Intel Core i5 Kaby Lake (7th Gen) processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Let’s take a look:
One will barely notice a difference in the design between the Surface Pro 4 and the 2017 version of the Surface Pro. It’s still the same design with a 12.3-inch screen (more on that in a little bit) with the exception of being slightly thinner and having rounded edges. The kickstand on the back is more versatile, especially for those who want to use the new Pro as an art tablet.
Many others have incorrectly reviewed the 12.3-inch 2,736 × 1,824 pixel resolution screen and have said it’s no different from the one on the Surface Pro 4. This simply isn’t true as the new Surface Pro offers slightly more vibrant colors and a slightly better contrast ratio. It’s the closest any device has come to that of the MacBook Pro in terms of delivering a perfect LCD screen, but neither device displays colors as great as an OLED screen can.
There is still one big quality-control problem with the Surface Pro — backlight bleed. It’s important to note that minimal backlight bleed is a given on just about every LCD screen, especially in the corners. However, as discussed on Reddit, many of the devices bleed beyond the corners. Most people won’t notice the bleed unless they are using their device in a very dark place (think of a bedroom with all the lights turned off at night).
The 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor on the new Surface Pro runs slightly faster than the 6th generation version did on the Surface Pro 4, and this is most noticeable when using processor-heavy programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Cyberlink’s PowerDirector.
The best part about the new processor is that it works without any fan running in the background. Therefore, the annoying coil whine squeak that was in the SP 4 is gone. The unit can get a little bit hot though.
Because the processor is updated, playing HD and (especially) 4K videos is a better experience with less video stutter. In order to enjoy the videos, Microsoft has slightly improved the speakers, which offer a more rounded and fuller sound than the speakers on the SP4.
The 8MP camera on the back of the 2017 Surface Pro is rather mediocre, especially in low-lit situations. But is anybody really buying the Surface Pro for its camera capabilities? The front-facing 5MP camera on the front, which can be used for Skype calls and front-facing snapshots, is just average. Neither are deal breakers.
This is the category where the new Surface Pro makes the SP4 completely irrelevant. The battery life on the SP4 has always been an issue. Before software updates, power users weren’t able to get more than four hours of use. After the upgrade, battery life improved by one hour.
When it comes to the new Surface Pro, you will not have to carry your battery charger with you unless you are editing 4K videos all day long. Power users should get at least seven hours of use and normal users can get about eight without any problems.
New Surface Pen
Microsoft’s Surface Pen is no longer included with the Surface Pro. The $99 pen makes some improvements in inking, but perhaps not enough to justify the extra price. The latency has been reduced, and your writing appears on the Pro at the same time the pen is pressed.
The biggest problem with N-Trig devices is that when you write slowly, there is a certain amount of pen jitter. In most cases, the pen jitter has improved, but when the unit is hot, your writing will be squiggly, especially if the device is in portrait mode and you are writing towards the far right or left side of the screen. Using Microsoft’s new Surface Pen on the new Surface Pro 4 comes closer to the experience of using the amazing Apple Pencil on the new iPad Pro 10.5, but it’s not quite there yet.
The new Surface Pro Signature Type Cover costs $159, but it is absolute perfection. Pressing the keys feels noticeably better than it does on previous Type Covers and the “Alcantara” fabric feels soothing. There are also two specific keys to change the brightness, so you no longer have to press a combination of keys to do so.
The 2017 Surface Pro is the best laptop/tablet hybrid you can buy right now, and Microsoft is concentrating more on the laptop capabilities this time around. Those who have the Surface Pro 4 and think there is no reason to upgrade may want to take a closer look at Microsoft’s latest Surface device. Microsoft has finally made its promise of creating a tablet-like device that can replace your laptop. Your turn, Apple.
[Featured Image by Daryl Deino]