Microsoft’s Surface was a bold attempt to get into hardware, but Microsoft has spent the last few years trying to get attention on the device. So they decided, with the Surface Pro, to put a lot of power under the hood and see if that did it. And it just might.
The outside of the Surface hasn’t really changed much; unless you’re a design obsessive, it might be a bit hard to tell the new Pro from the last generation. That said, there are numerous small improvements to the outside, and the fact that the kickstand now allows you to lay the Surface almost completely flat may excite many buyers.
Inside, the Surface is ridiculously powerful, packing Intel’s Kaby Lake processors and a fanless construction. That means you get a lot of power in a flexible form factor and you also get long battery life. Microsoft is confident that the Surface Pro will run on battery for thirteen hours, far higher than the last Surface.
That alone makes it worth the “Pro” designation; being able to dodge outlets for long periods of time is generally what makes the difference for professionals, and some models will be able to use LTE networks, although those won’t ship just yet. That said, Microsoft’s seeming dislike of USB-C is in full effect here — you’ll only find typical USB ports on the Pro.
Microsoft has also invested a lot into accessories. The Surface Dial, essentially a knob you can place anywhere on the tablet to fiddle with controls, will be supported on the Pro. The pen no longer comes standard, which might annoy some artists, but Microsoft has added a tilt function for the pen that lets you be more precise in your angling, added more pressure sensitivity, and reduced the force needed to trigger the pen. And, of course, the keyboard cover is back, more refined than ever, and in a variety of new colors.
So how much will this set you back? The Surface Pro itself starts at $799, but keep in mind that doesn’t include a keyboard, which will add $129 to the total for a black model or $159 for colors. If you want a Pen, that’ll be an extra $99 and the Dial is $99 as well. In other words, the Pro in the title doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a flexible enough device that it might be worth it.