In the five years that Microsoft’s Surface computing devices have been around, much has changed—and much has remained the same. These remain the benchmark Windows convertibles for other laptop makers. What has changed is that the incredibly powerful Apple iPad Pro is also providing genuine competition to Windows machines, as laptop and desktop replacements.
There are subtle improvements to the overall design, but no wholesale changes. For instance, the integrated kickstand extends further back than it used to, which provides the perfect angle for scribbling or making illustrations using the stylus. The biggest advantage is that existing accessories will work seamlessly, something business users would appreciate. The Surface Pro weighs upwards of 768g, while the iPad Pro 10.5 tips the scales at 469g and the iPad Pro 12.9 weighs 677g.
The 12.3-inch PixelSense display (2,736x1,824 resolution) does well in terms of brightness, colour vibrancy and crispness, even though it is a bit reflective if you keep the brightness levels low. Speaking of which, the lowest brightness levels of the Surface Pro’s screen are still brighter than an iPad Pro, which could have an impact on battery life.
The Surface Pro range starts at Rs64,999 for the variant that runs the Intel Core m3 processor. However, we feel this is a tad underpowered, doesn’t really tick off the future-proofing checklist, and isn’t a match for the iPad Pro, which runs the powerful A10X Fusion chip. We would recommend a step up to either the Core i5 variant (4 GB RAM, 128 GB solid state drive, or SSD, priced at Rs79,999 or 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, priced at Rs1,06,999). If you are up for it, there is a fully kitted out variant with a Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD, which will set you back by Rs1,82,999.
Microsoft insists on calling the Surface Pro a “laptop", but irrespective of the variant you spend on, the functional Surface Pro Type Cover keyboard (Rs10,999), the gorgeous Surface Pro Signature Type Cover keyboard (Rs12,999) and the Surface Pen stylus (Rs7,999) need to be purchased separately. Between the two keyboard options, the luxurious Alcantara fabric of the latter is worth the money.
Battery life has, for the most part, flattered to deceive in previous Surface editions. However, Microsoft seems to have hit the sweet spot as far as Windows computing devices are concerned, and our Core i5-powered Surface Pro lasts about 8 hours on a single charge with a dozen Chrome tabs open, mails syncing, Twitter updating constantly, and a couple of Microsoft Word documents being worked on. In comparison, the Apple iPad Pro 10.5, which runs iOS 11, lasts 12 hours under similar usage.
With improvements all round, the newest Microsoft Surface Pro is the machine you would buy if you didn’t want to buy the Apple iPad Pro. It has more style and substance than any other Windows convertible so far.