Microsoft has used its Shanghai event as a platform to launch the new Surface Pro and Surface Pen. In the run up to the reveal we were told to expect new hardware but not a Surface Pro 5, however that's wholly to do with Microsoft dropping the numerical suffix from its Surface Pro tablets. Microsoft showed off the new Surface Pro, which as its headline features sports a more flexible 165-degree hinge, up to 13.5 hour battery life, and fanless models up to the Core i5 versions (only the Core i7 models have cooling fans). There's a new and improved Surface Pen too.
New to the Surface Pro range is the use of Intel's latest 7th gen Core processors. On the pre-order page Microsoft has six SKUs listed - there are models with Core m3 processors, and Core i5 and i7 processors. The Core m3 option has the lowest memory and storage spec at 4GB/128GB, you can get a Core i5 version with the same memory and storage or double up on both accounts. For the Core i7 versions 8GB/256GB forms the base line with options of double the RAM and double or quadruple the storage available too. As mentioned in the intro, only the Core-i7 chip equipped Surface Pro machines use active cooling - creating impressively low amount of unwanted noise, "an unprecedented 18dB," says Panos Panay.
Central to the Surface proposition is the excellent 10-point touch screen. The new Surface Pro comes with a high-resolution 12.3-inch PixelSense Display with 2736 x 1824 pixels, 267ppi, and 3:2 aspect ratio. Panay said that Microsoft has equipped a custom silicon PixelSense Accelerator chip, to enhance colour and make profile switching a cinch.
Another important enhancement to the hardware offering is in its thriftiness with power. The new Surface Pro can run for 13.5 hours between charges, a claimed 50 per cent better than the Surface Pro 4 or 35 per cent improvement on the Apple iPad Pro. This extended battery life is delivered despite the new Surface Pro being thinner and lighter than ever at 8.5mm and between 766g (m3) and 786g (i5 and i7 versions).
Covering all the hardware bases, other specs include the following:
- Ports: Full-size USB 3.0, microSD card reader, Surface Connect, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPort, and a Cover port
- Volume key and power key
- Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth Wireless 4.0 technology, LTE-A
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 (m3), Intel HD Graphics 620 (i5), Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (i7)
- TPM chip
- Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope
- Cameras: Windows Hello face sign-in camera (front-facing), 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video, 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video
- Audio: Stereo microphones, Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
- Size: 292.10 x 201.42 x 8.5 mm
- OS: Windows 10 Pro plus Office 365 30-day trial
Microsoft claims to have produced the best Surface Type Covers yet for the new Surface Pro. You can immediately see that these covers use the same luxurious Alcantara material that is featured on the recently launched Surface Laptops. Colours include Platinum, Burgundy, and Cobalt Blue. The keyboards boast 1.3 mm of key travel and feature a high-quality scissor mechanism.
Surface Pen enhanced
The new Surface Pen is said to be Microsoft's most natural and responsive yet. It features 4096 pressure points, only 21 milliseconds of latency and new tilt functionality. Inking should seem more realistic and natural than ever with "the lowest parallax in the industry" and the improved accuracy and pressure sensitivity. The Surface Pen is being made available in Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Black.
Microsoft Whiteboard is a new program for Pen users, its meant for simultaneous collaboration and live multi-device inking across the family of Surface devices. It’s a great collaborative tool, reckons Microsoft, with its "magical experience that you have to see to believe".
The Surface Pro and Surface Pro Signature Type Cover are available for pre-order from today and will ship on 15th June worldwide (25 markets). Surface Pen will be available in the coming weeks. Surface Pro starts at US$799.99 / UK£799.00. There are discounts available for students and academic staff.