Surface Pro review: New Surface Go offers lower-cost alternative to the Surface Pro
Microsoft confirms scheduled availability for USB-C connectivity - report
Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 hybrid was one of the standout laptops of last year, proving once and for all the 2-in-1 form-factor is a viable option for business-class devices. Now, the company is following it up with the new Surface Pro, twinning all-around improvements with Intel's newest Kaby Lake processors.
26/07/2018: New Surface Go offers lower-cost alternative to the Surface Pro
Microsoft has announced details of the Surface Go: a new 2-in-1 detachable that offers a lower-cost, lower-spec alternative to its Surface Pro device.
Announcing details of the hybrid in a blog post, Microsoft said the Surface Go is its "smallest, lightest, and most affordable Surface yet", weighing in at just 1.15 pounds and measuring just 8.3mm thin.
The Surface Go sports a 10in high-resolution PixelSense display and includes support for the Surface Pen with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The device also boasts its own custom-made Signature Type Cover (although this is sold separately), as well as a Windows Precision Trackpad.
Under the hood, the hybrid is powered by Intel's seventh-generation Pentium Gold processor, which Microsoft says provides a balance of power, performance and battery life (up to nine hours from a single charge). The Surface Go also comes with either 4GB RAM/64GM storage or 6GB RAM/128GB storage.
In terms of connectivity, the 2-in-1 includes Surface Connect for charging and docking, USB-C 3.1, a microSD slot for expandable storage, as well as the traditional headphone jack.
The new Surface Go costs £379 (or £509 for the higher spec version) and will hit stores on 2 August. Pre-orders are also now open from the Microsoft Store.
13/07/2018: Surface Pro 6 may be ‘heavily redesigned’
Microsoft could be about to shake up its Surface Pro design with the Surface Pro 6, according to the latest rumours, with the new device reportedly set to arrive sometime next year.
Citing previously-unseen internal documents, Brad Sams of Thurrott.com reports that the next- generation 2-in-1 device has been codenamed “Carmel”. A shipping date has not yet been listed – but the website reasons that, due to the recent release of the Surface Pro LTE model, the Pro 6 may not be arriving as soon as some were hoping for.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley also reports that the hybrid will be “heavily redesigned”, adding that separate contacts have revealed that the device “isn’t coming until mid-2019”.
Similarly, the Surface Hub 2 also looks set for a mid-2019 release, the website reports, whilst Intel 8th generation Surface Pro and Surface Laptop refreshes could be on their way this autumn.
There is currently no solid information surrounding the updated machines, but ZDNet speculates that they could include the Surface Connect port. Currently, there is no confirmation as to whether the Surface Pro or Surface Laptop will include USB Type C connectivity.
It’s also reported that Microsoft will also release additional Surface-branded accessories, including a new headphone-microphone office headset.
26/04/2018:USB-C dongle for Surface devices will arrive later this year
Microsoft's long-awaited USB-C dongle for Surface devices will hit the shelves later this year, the company has told The Verge, with a release confirmed to be "on the roadmap" for 2018.
The adapter will allow USB-C connectivity for Surface Pro and Surface Laptop devices via the Surface Connector port, opening up a host of possibilities for users in terms of accessories.
The USB-C dongle was first announced back in 2017 following initial disappointment that Microsoft continued to snub the technology on its Surface line of devices. The accessory was then set for a release the same year - but was subsequently delayed for unknown reasons.
Explaining the USB-C snub on its devices at the time, Surface chief Panos Panay said that he didn't want to replace ports that are valuable to users in favour of Type-C - but added that he believes a dongle to be the best solution.
"If you want to charge a device with a Type-C charger, you can," Panay told The Verge at the time. "If you want to put data back and forth with a Type-C peripheral, you can."
Microsoft has not yet revealed exactly when the USB-C dongle will hit the market or how much it will cost, but the accessory will be available in late 2018.
The Surface Pro is outselling the Surface Books and Surface Laptop
The Surface Pro (2017) is currently the most popular of Microsoft's new Surface devices, according to AdDuplex's November statistics.
In terms of sales, the Redmond giant's 2017 refresh of the hybrid remains ahead of its other Surface-branded machines - such as the Surface Laptop and both Surface Book models.
AdDuplex's sales breakdown reveals that the 2017 model of the Surface Pro accounted for 9.2% of overall Surface sales as of the month of November, whilst the original Surface Book stood at 7.1% and the Surface Laptop trailed behind on 2%. The more recent Surface Book 2 clocked up 0.4%.
It's clear that the Surface Pro line remains the form-factor of choice when it comes to the Surface range - with older iterations also still making up a large percentage of users.
The Surface Pro 4 accumulated 39.7% whilst the older Pro 3 totalled 21.7%. Combined, the Surface Pro line made up 79.9% of all Surface device sales.
As noted by Mspoweruser, the Surface Books and Surface Studio are more expensive than the Surface Pro which contributes to the lower sales figures. However, the Surface Laptop represents a "cheaper value proposition" than the Pro range, the website says, which suggests users favour the 2-in-1 setup.
Panos Panay to unveil new Surface devices at Future Decoded
Head of Microsoft's Surface division Panos Panay will hold a Surface keynote at the company's Future Decoded event in London next month, The Verge reports.
Sources familiar with the company's plans also told the website that guests can expect at least one new device at the event, which runs from 31 October to 1 November.
What this device will be is currently unclear - but The Verge says it expects the upcoming Surface Pro LTE hybrid to be unveiled, as well as a new Surface Book or Surface Hub device.
Microsoft is also planning to release ARM-powered Windows laptops in the near future and, although it's currently unclear whether it will produce its own Surface model, the Redmond firm could reveal more at Future Decoded.
"We are on track to see Windows 10 on Snapdragon devices become available this year as previously shared," a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to The Verge.
"Microsoft and Qualcomm continue to work closely with our OEM partners ASUS, HP and Lenovo in bringing Always Connected devices featuring always-on LTE connectivity and great battery life to market."
Microsoft's Future Decoded event will take place at the Excel convention centre in London.
Microsoft unveils pay-monthly Surface Plus plans
Microsoft has revealed its Surface Plus and Surface Plus for Business plans, which allow US consumers to pay monthly for Surface devices and upgrade to the latest machine every 18 months.
"We're excited to announce the availability of Surface Plus and Surface Plus for Business; flexible financing options designed to help more people and businesses take advantage of the power of Surface," Microsoft announced in a blog post.
The Redmond giant said customers can spread the "low" monthly payments over a period of 24 months (at 0% APR) and upgrade to the latest Surface device after 18.
Surface Plus users will also receive "best in class" service and support, with the option to add the Microsoft Complete extended service plan - plus additional Microsoft Store benefits such as a 30-day "hassle-free" return policy and free in-store technical assistance.
Businesses also receive a host of benefits as part of Surface Plus for Business, Microsoft said, with companies able to "add as many devices as they want" to a single agreement -- including the option to mix and match different Surface devices.
Options are flexible, with businesses able to choose between 18, 24 or 30 month plans - and can also choose to increase or reduce their "device fleet" mid-term.
US customers can visit their nearest Microsoft store or sign up to Surface Plus online - currently there's no details about a possible similar UK plan.
Images of canned Surface Mini emerge online
A number of images depicting an unreleased Surface Mini have emerged for the first time, following Microsoft's decision to scrap its release back in 2014.
The tablet was supposed to hit the shelves alongside the Surface Pro 3 - but the Redmond giant pulled its plans just weeks before its launch date.
The images show the device as resembling a smaller Surface Pro 3, with a portrait orientation and "felt-like" casing, as reported by Windows Central.
The tablet also featured a built-in kickstand (in landscape orientation) as well as "slightly angled" edges for comfortable handling and grip - although this did result in a large bezel, the website reports.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, the Surface Mini included 1GB RAM, 32GB of storage, dual-band Wi-Fi and packed a screen resolution of 1440 x 1080.
The tablet also featured microSD expandable storage compatibility, Micro-USB port for charging, a headphone jack and USB-OTG.
Windows Central added that the scrapped Surface Mini also sported the same Surface Pen technology that arrived with the Surface Pro 3 - but did not include a Type Cover.
The Surface Pro's design has remained largely unchanged for the past few generations, but that's no bad thing. The Surface Pro's slim, angular design is one of the best hybrid models to come out in recent years and the newest version is more attractive than ever.
Like previous models, Microsoft's latest Surface Pro uses 12.3in PixelSense display, boasting an impressive 2736 x 1824 resolution with a pixel density of 267ppi. For reference, that's very slightly better than the iPad Pro's excellent screen.
The panel itself is high-quality, with a good contrast ratio and strong colour accuracy, covering almost 95% of the sRGB colour gamut. This means it's well-suited to graphic design work, particularly when paired with the excellent Surface Pen.
Microsoft's TypeCover keyboards have been a notable highlight of previous Surface Pro models, offering a crisp and satisfying typing experience without increasing the device's profile with a thick and bulky keyboard.
The same is true here. The only changes are a minor increase in the keys' travel depth and the addition of the waterproof Alcantara fabric covering (previously seen on the Surface Pro 4's Signature TypeCover) as standard. It's one of the best laptop keyboards we've seen to date, only being narrowly beaten by the newest MacBook Pro.
Specs and hardware
Performance is always a key component of the Surface Pro's appeal, and the latest generation is no exception. Packing Intel's latest Kaby Lake chips – available in Core m3, i5 and i7 variants – and with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, this hybrid is every bit the business-class machine.
This was borne out in our benchmark tests, where the 16GB Core i7 model's blazing score of 60 placed it comfortably ahead of the Dell XPS 13, the Toshiba Portege X30 and the HP Elitebook X360. It's one of the most powerful laptops around and should easily chew through even demanding workloads.
Another similarly crucial aspect of any laptop is battery life, which goes double for ultraportable devices like the Surface Pro – the last thing you want is a device that dies on you halfway through the workday.
Luckily, the Surface Pro's amazing score of 11.5 hours in our battery tests proves that Microsoft has done its homework when it comes to making sure the Surface Pro has sufficient juice in the tank to see you through everything you need to do.
Microsoft's Surface Pro devices are regularly best-in-class, and looking at the latest model, it's easy to see why. An eye-catching and attractive chassis houses a gorgeous display and seriously impressive internal hardware, resulting in a machine that can handle just about any enterprise environment you'd care to throw it into.
It may be a little on the pricey side, but if you've got the cash to spare, the Surface Pro definitely will not disappoint.
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