Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) Review (i5-256GB variant)

The 5th gen. Microsoft Surface Pro is the most versatile 2-in-1 for consumers who want performance and portability in one product.

By Rohit Arora

    The 2-in-1s or detachables as we like to call them are certainly the most interesting computing products in the modern times. These devices are designed to deliver high-end PC related jobs without compromising on mobility. You can purchase a 2-in-1 for as low as Rs. 18,000 to address basic computing needs or can spend as much as Rs. 2.5 lacs depending upon your requirement. Among the myriad of Windows-based 2-in-1s, Surface Pro devices are simply the Gold standards of the 2-in-1s. The most recent addition to Surface Pro line-up, the 5th gen. Surface Pro (2017) was made available to the Indian consumers in February 2018. It is considered as an incremental upgrade to the last year's Surface Pro (4th gen.) and largely focuses on improving the basics.

    Microsoft Surface Pro models are priced between Rs. 64,999 to Rs 182,999, depending upon the specifications you go for. To make the most out of the Surface Pro ecosystem, you would also need to invest in the new accessories to help you create, study, work and play virtually from anywhere. Microsoft shared the new Surface Pro along with the new accessories with us and here's what we have to say about the new pricey 2-in-1.

    Extremely portable and offers on-the-go heavy computing

    Microsoft Surface Pro line-up is designed for new age mobile workforce. It is build to offer high-end PC performance without restricting you to one place. You can use it as a tablet and as a full-fledged PC at office and home or while traveling during a short weekend trip.

    Subtle changes in design as compared to 4th gen. Surface Pro

    As far as the fifth generation Surface Pro is concerned, the machine resembles the previous generation Surface Pro devices but there are few noticeable changes to improve the aesthetics and overall look and feel. For instance, the magnesium-aluminum alloy frame that runs around the edges is now more rounded to give the main unit slightly more ergonomic and comfortable feel. This helps in handling the Surface Pro in a tablet mode. The new hinge is more flexible and adjusts to 165 degrees to let you use Surface Pro into Studio Mode. This makes the new Surface Pro a great device for sketching, drawing or simply for note making jobs. The cameras on the new Surface Pro are better streamlined with the surface.

    Top-notch build quality

    At just 8.5mm thin with a starting weight of 767 grams, the new Surface Pro feels extremely portable. You can carry it around in a small sling bag, use it in a tablet mode to watch movies or keep it on a desk in tent mode (Studio mode) for sketching or note making. As for the accessories, the Surface Pen can be snapped on the side magnetic surface. A magnetic connector is also provided at the bottom for the Type Cover. The build quality is top-notch and the whole device feels rock solid and premium.

    Overall, the Surface Pro 2018 comes out as the most polished 2-in-1 from the house of Microsoft. It is just perfect for users who seek extreme portability without comprising on performance.

    Display: 12.3-inch PixelSense touch display

    Microsoft Surface Pro (2018) features a high-resolution 12.3-inch PixelSense touch display. The screen supports the new Surface Pen, which is touted as the fastest pen ever. Notably, the display comes in a 3:2 form factor, a trend started by Microsoft with the third generation Surface Pro machines.

    The unconventional aspect ratio can be useful and disappointing at the same time. For instance, the 3:2 aspect ratio is excellent for browsing web pages, reading and writing stories on MS Word and to create PPTs and Excel sheets. Moreover, the form factor also works very well while using the stylus for sketching in both landscape and portrait mode. When it comes to movie-watching, the 16:9 aspect ratio offers a better viewing experience due to content availability.

    Personally, I believe that the 3:2 aspect ratio is more useful. It offers better overall viewing experience and usable space on portable machines like the Surface Pro (2018). As for the display, performance is concerned, the screen has impressive viewing angles and color reproduction is also good. Videos look impressive but you have to deal with some black bars at the top and bottom.

    Performance

    Microsoft Surface Pro (2018) is a powerful machine that will hardly disappoint you in everyday work routines, despite the fact that it uses last year's Intel's 7th gen. chipsets. I mostly used it for typing documents, creating PPTs, video playback and browsing web pages on Google Chrome. I did not want to keep a tag on how many tabs were opened at a particular time, and unsurprisingly, the 2-in-1 worked without any performance issues. The Surface Pro (2018) is not a hard-core gaming machine for sure, but you can still play a variety of games to refresh your mind from heavy work tasks, which are addressed wonderfully by this portable machine.


    My unit ran on Intel Corei5-7300U processor. There's 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD. You will also get a one-year subscription to Office 365. The review unit also came installed with Intel HD Graphics 620 and ran on the latest version of Windows 10 Pro. This particular variant is priced at Rs. 1,06,990 which is a big amount and can offer you even some more powerful machines with the latest hardware. However; it is the use case and form factor that works in favor of this machine. Last but not the least; the new Surface Pro comes in a new fanless, whisper-quiet design. The thermal performance is also improved and the 2-in-1 ran silently even during the most strenuous tasks.

    Keypad and other accessories

    The biggest letdown with the Surface Pro (2018) is the high-price of associated accessories. The Signature Type Cover - Platinum which is a basic necessity sells at Rs. 12,999 on Amazon.in. The entire keyboard is wrapped in soft Alcantara material and is available in Platinum and Black color options. The new Surface Pro Signature type cover offers 1.3 mm of key travel for faster and more accurate typing. Typing is smooth and comfortable and the learning curve is very short. It also packs in a full-size glass trackpad with five-finger multi-touch capabilities that allows for smooth and précised input; however, it feels very stiff. The type cover sticks firmly with the help of magnetic connectors placed at the bottom. It helps you use the tablet as a full-fledged Windows-based PC. All of his sounds good, but still not entirely justifiable for the price-point.

    Improved Surface Pen

    Next in the list is Surface Pen which is also a must buy accessory if your purpose of buying the new Surface Pro is to sketch and scribble on digital apps. The Pen is very precise and works efficiently on the crisp 12.3-inch PixelSense touch display. The Pen comes with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity for increased accuracy and responsiveness. It also works as an eraser. The Surface Pen is a great tool to work on apps like Microsoft Whiteboard app. Sadly, you have to spend an extra Rs. 7,999 to buy the Surface Pen, which once again seems like a tough decision. The Surface Pen will be available in Silver and Charcoal colors.

    Surface Arc Mouse

    The list ends with the Surface Arc Mouse, which is an example of thoughtful engineering that can only be accomplished by a brand like Microsoft which has decades of hardware expertise. The new peripheral looks and feels futuristic and is a great navigating device for the new Surface Pro. When not in use, the arc mouse lays completely flat in shape and that means the Bluetooth chip is disabled. Fold the device in an arc shape to enable the Bluetooth to navigate throughout the Surface Pro. The mouse offers an ergonomic grip and feels amazing in the palm. While I truly loved the new mouse; the pricing is a big issue. It costs a bomb and is priced at Rs. 6,399.

    The new Surface Pro and accessories are available for retail purchase in India in online Microsoft stores (Amazon and Flipkart) as well as Croma, Reliance, Vijay Sales, and other authorized retailers in India.

    Port and Connectivity

    As far as connectivity is concerned, the new Surface Pro is pretty restricted. It offers just one USB 3.0 port and a Mini DisplayPort video output. There's no USB Type-C port on this pricey machine, which is a big letdown. Thankfully, Microsoft has included a microSD card slot underneath the kickstand. Besides the hardware ports, you get Bluetooth 4.1 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac
    Battery Backup

    Microsoft has managed to pack in a bigger battery (20 % larger) unit in the same form factor, which is remarkable. As per the tech giant, the new Surface Pro offers a battery life of up to 13.5 hours on one single charge. I was not able to use it on a stretch; however depending upon my usage, I can say that the battery lasted for approximate 10 hours and even more, which is quite satisfactory and will please consumers who are always using machines on-the-go.

    Pricing and Availability

    Surface Pro Configurations

    • Intel® CoreTM m3, 128 GB SSD, 4GB RAM, Intel® HD Graphics 615 : ₹ 64,999
    • Intel® CoreTM i5, 128 GB SSD, 4GB RAM, Intel® HD Graphics 620 : ₹ 79,999
    • Intel® CoreTM i5, 256 GB SSD, 8GB RAM, Intel® HD Graphics 620 : ₹ 106,999
    • Intel® CoreTM i7, 256 GB SSD, 8GB RAM, Intel® IrisTM Plus Graphics 640 : ₹ 133,999
    • Intel® CoreTM i7, 512 GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Intel® IrisTM Plus Graphics 640 : ₹ 182,999

    Verdict

    Designed to deliver the versatility of a laptop in the form-factor of a tablet, the 5th gen. Microsoft Surface Pro is a wonderful 2-in-1 Windows machine. It is powerful and extremely portable, a combination which is rare and is very much desired by the today's mobile workforce. The only problem is the hefty price tag of the tablet and the accessories that are required to achieve the unmatched Surface ecosystem. At a comparable price point (depending upon the variant you choose), you can get equally and even more powerful Windows-based machines from Dell, Lenovo, and Asus. It is a tough decision that only you have to make. However, rest assured that you will experience the best-in-class detachable experience from the new Surface pro due to its world-class engineering and power-packed performance in the 2-in-1 segment.

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