From the moment it had been unveiled, it had been clear the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (starts at $749; $1,358.99 as tested) had not been the brand new entry in the top Pro line some were longing for. THE TOP Pro X is giving us the first glimpse of the device’s future, as the Surface Pro 7 is just one more refinement of the flagship 2-in-1. But sometimes stable is most beneficial. This year’s version finally adds a USB Type-C port, and it brings Intel’s hottest processor family to the party. Otherwise, the look remains the same, even though it’s needs to show its age next to its flashy new counterpart, the top Pro 7 continues to be difficult to fault. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is well known convertible laptop, however the Surface Pro 7 represents the very best of detachable Windows tablets, and earns our Editors’ Choice for the class. The next time, we just hope it looks similar to the Pro X, which includes design in spades but isn’t quite ready for the limelight yet regarding function.
Mostly the Same Surface
After years of tweaks and alterations over the first few models, the top Pro’s design has stayed pretty much the same during the last four iterations. You could set the top Pro 7 alongside the prior versions and, apart from color variations (our Surface Pro 6 model this past year was the first ever to can be found in all black), not have the ability to tell them apart instantly. The inclusion of the USB-C port finally gives that one away, but they’re otherwise near-interchangeable.
Mostly, that’s a positive thing. The magnesium-alloy design feels top quality, and it’s a comparatively compact and sleek device. It measures 0.33 by 11.5 by 7.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.7 pounds-a very lightweight machine regardless of how you slice it. For comparison, the XPS 13 2-in-1 will come in at 0.51 by 11.7 by 8.2 inches and 2.9 pounds, and shows itself as a notebook first. Alone, the Pro 7’s platinum-colored professional look hasn’t aged badly, despite the fact that I did grow keen on the black paint job from this past year. The bezels remain pretty thick, an undeniable fact that’s becoming more evident as nearly every slim notebook opts for razor-thin ones.
THE TOP Pro 7 hasn’t gotten any worse looking, but the condition is now the context, and it’s really a concern, at least partly, created by Microsoft itself. With the top Pro X revealed right alongside its numbered stablemate, the new-look design is making the top Pro 7 design look stale in comparison. It boasts the slimmer, rounder edges and thinner bezels that you may expect out of a top-tier Surface Pro device in 2019. When both are next to one another, the Pro X looks decidedly newer. It’s a stunning system, inducing that feeling of tech envy which has slowly gone missing in the key line.
Of course, it isn’t a matter of simply applying that design to the top Pro 7, or Microsoft could have done so. The Pro X can be an ARM-based device as the Pro 7 uses an Intel chip, and the latter is a far more fully featured, traditional Windows PC. The Pro X’s elements need less physical space and cooling leeway to use, allowing the thin design. If you want something nearer to a tablet experience, the Pro X is a lovely option, nonetheless it lacks the broad functionality of the most common Windows laptop. You don’t need to worry about which programs you can run or how they’ll focus on a Surface Pro 7. Are they compiled for ARM? Are they 64-bit or 32-bit? None of this.
One day-perhaps in several years-Microsoft should be able to give you a numbered Surface Pro device that appears like the Pro X, but gets the Intel processor or at least the broad program compatibility that Surface Pro users have already been used to. The Pro X, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to be ready for prime time yet, and of both, we’d recommend the Pro 7. You can examine out our separate overview of the Pro X for additional information.
So, ABOUT THIS Keyboard…
As for using the top Pro as both a notebook computer and a tablet, the same advantages and disadvantages remain given the unchanged design. I will not assume many people are as familiar as I am with the top line, though, so here is a rundown.
The built-in rear kickstand, which includes been the main topic of mimicry since its debut, is executed exactly like on the prior model. A completely adjustable hinge permits you to recline the screen through 165 levels of range, including practically flat, that can be helpful with all the stylus for sketching or note-taking. The initial Surface models featured a hinge with a restricted number of set adjustment points, which means this “free range” system continues to be very much preferable.
The kickstand is merely half the battle in turning the Pro 7 right into a laptop. It is the Surface Type Cover-the detachable keyboard also at the mercy of many copycats over the years-that makes the magic happen. Since it always has, the keyboard easily attaches to underneath of the top Pro magnetically, making transformation a breeze.
Also since it always has been, the sort Cover comes separately. It hardly appears worth it to keep beating this drum, as Microsoft plainly doesn’t plan to are the keyboard with the tablet, but I wish it could. The Surface Pro has already been on the pricey side, but adding another expensive peripheral to access full functionality is a bitter price pill. Microsoft sent us the fancier Signature Type Cover for $159.99, however the standard model is $129.99.
The keyboard can be an integral area of the experience-Microsoft rarely shows or advertises both apart, and it’s really the keyboard that completes the 2-in-1 concept. Without it, the top Pro is actually simply a nice, and expensive, tablet. In addition, it is a wonderful keyboard because of its kind. Despite its thinness, the sort Cover offers a surprisingly comfortable typing experience, with good key travel. Additionally, there is backlighting, adjustable through several degrees of brightness. The keyboard is just a little flimsy if you press down an excessive amount of, particularly if you are not using it on a desk (more on that in an instant), but it’s still a lot more than serviceable, and one of the better among all detachables.
You can even angle the keyboard for a far more comfortable typing angle by folding the most notable of the keyboard against the screen, where more magnets hold it set up. This innovation was introduced to the top line several iterations ago, a tiny addition which makes a noticeable usability difference. The touchpad can be excellent, and it tracks very smoothly. I genuinely enjoy typing upon this keyboard, at least on a good surface, regardless if the price appears somewhat steep. The combined price continues to be significantly less than many laptops, though, so there’s only up to now you may take this complaint.
Using the keyboard on your own lap remains just a little troublesome. While it will be neat that one could transform this device right into a notebook computer clamshell at all, the flexy nature of the keyboard and the width of the Pro 7 make it tiring to use in your lap for long. This “lapability” is definitely a large issue for a few, enough to create them pick a traditional notebook computer over the top Pro. Since it isn’t very wide, and the kickstand is a lot less stable on your own legs compared to the flat bottom surface of a notebook would be, you should keep your legs close together but still during use. It certainly makes you quite aware you are not by using a normal laptop, so it is much better applied to a desk or tabletop. There’s still something satisfying about the top Pro experience, regardless if you’d probably pick a laptop computer keyboard if indeed they were put face to face.
Ports & Configurations: Hurray for C
The ports are another facet that may remind you this is not a normal laptop, as there simply aren’t most of them. As stated earlier, one big improvement may be the inclusion of USB Type-C. This port is situated on the proper side, right above the only other port, a typical USB 3.1 Type-A port.
It felt just like the USB-C port was “missing” out of this device for at least the last two iterations, so it is nice to view it added. It generally does not support Thunderbolt 3, however, so users seeking to transfer a huge amount of files quickly and frequently will have to put up with standard USB speeds. The actual fact that you will get just two ports could be an issue alone for users who lean heavily on peripherals, but a Bluetooth mouse could release the port for a drive or other attachments.
Finally, we come to Microsoft’s configuration options. Our $1,358.99 model features an Intel Core i5-1035G4 processor, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD, and the $159.99 Signature Type Cover. Other configurations generally just scale the same pieces up or down in capacity, apart from the CPU. The $749 starting model (without the keyboard) provides an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of memory, and a 128GB SSD. That scales completely up to the most notable model, with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of memory, and a 1TB SSD. Between your two, you will get various combinations of a Core i5 or Core i7 chip, 8GB or 16GB of memory, and 256GB or 512GB of storage. The Pro 7 can be purchased in black, but only three of the SKUs offer it as a choice (including ours).