Technophile

Microsoft Surface Pro: A versatile wonder

Mala Bhargava | Updated on July 18, 2018 Published on July 18, 2018

This beautiful tablet-laptop is great for serious Windows users but the package is very premium — read expensive

If you’re someone who uses Microsoft software more than anything else, you can’t but be tempted by a computer that’s wholly Microsoft’s. Admired, praised and practically drooled over for its design, the Microsoft Surface tablet-laptop is now in its fifth generation, though it doesn’t use the number 5 in its name and is just called the Surface Pro. Launched very late in India a few months ago in February, it’s an alternative to thin and light hybrid machines from the top manufacturers — but be warned that the whole package is a thoroughly expensive one. If you want the top-of-the-line model you’ll be set back by ₹182,999 with the keyboard cover and mouse and pen all costing a lot of extra. So why should you consider it at all?

Everything spells class on this machine. It’s meant to be a premium or luxury device and looks it. Our unit was a pearl grey piece with a cover in a darker shade. Microsoft’s logo shines in steely platinum splendour on the top, looking particularly good. It’s a neat, contemporary and professional look and why not as the tablet-laptop is most likely to appeal to professionals who work with Windows and applications that work with Windows.

The Surface Pro is so light you barely feel its weight as you carry it around in your hand. Ad that’s when it isn’t particularly small. Going from one room to the other at work would be easy enough for anyone who can just press it into a fully closed position, tuck it under an arm and go. The sheer portability of a device that doesn’t need to be tiny to be light is one of the more compelling features of Microsoft’s Surface series.

The tablet and keyboard pull apart. In fact, it’s not without reason that people are indignant that something that purports to be a laptop (or almost a laptop) should have no keyboard included in the package. A customer has to buy the keyboard part separately for about ₹12,999 adding to an already hefty cost. This is much the same format that Apple follows with its iPad Pro for which you need to buy a keyboard-cover separately, but the difference is that the iPad is more of a tablet than the Surface with its huge ecosystem of apps, including many from Microsoft.

 

The keyboard is however a really nice one, comfortable to type on and no problem to work with for long hours. There’s also a very nicely responsive and full-sized touch pad. I didn’t see any evidence of these being available in a range of colours, though.

When in laptop mode, you will need to pull out the beautifully built-in kickstand on the back of the screen. This sturdy bit of metal is what props the screen up and allows it to be positioned at whatever angle one wants. If the screen is at a slight tilt back you may well want to use a mouse, and Microsoft has one of the nicest ever made — but it will cost you an additional ₹6,399. The Arc Mouse is at first impossibly flat until you try to fold it in upon itself. Then it wakes up, lights up and is ready for use. It’s made of a soft synthetic material that goes well with the Surface.

Tilt the screen back a little more or get it almost flat in studio mode and you’ll need another accessory — the Surface Pen (charcoal or silver) which costs another ₹7,999. Aimed at artists, designers and professionals who want to mark up documents, the pen adds versatility to the device. It works smoothly and without any lag and competes head on with the Apple Pencil which now works not just with the iPad Pro tablets but with the basic new and affordable iPad for 2018. While both the Surface Pen and the Apple Pencil are really nice to use, Apple has the advantage of a huge number of apps that work with the Pencil in rather creative ways. The Pen has a digital eraser on the back, which again is specially nice for artists.

If you use the Surface Pro on your lap, literally as a laptop, you may well find the kickstand a bit awkward. It’s not impossible to use but does take a little getting used to and feels a bit precarious.

Despite the iPad’s big app ecosystem though, the Surface Pro is a great media consumption device. It’s totally quiet, has a lovely 12.3-inch screen, and decent and loud sound. The i5 with 8GB version we got to review is fanless and nice and silent. Its battery lasts a good 13 hours. The touch screen is vibrant and smooth and fluid to work with. Performance is good but this machine isn’t meant for heavy tasks like video editing, gaming with heavy graphics or even the high speed editing of high res photos. For that, one will need much more power. I would overall say the iPad makes the better tablet while the Surface makes the better laptop, but even as a laptop there are other options one needs to explore because of the prohibitive cost. Microsoft has just launched the Surface Go which is the more affordable alternative and we’re hoping we’ll be able to get a look at that soon.

Price: ₹64,999 to ₹184,999 depending on configuration

Pros: Attractive, responsive, light, beautifully constructed, runs full Windows, offers many configurations, works well with pen, mouse and full keyboard, great touch screen, premium, handles Windows applications

Cons: Very expensive, some extras should have been part of basic price, not as many tablet styled apps

Published on July 18, 2018

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