- Microsoft just unveiled a number of devices for its Surface lineup, including the new Surface Pro 7 2-in-1 laptop.
- You can preorder the Surface Pro 7 on Microsoft's website for $749 right now, and it will ship on October 22, 2019.
- I spent a few minutes with the Surface Pro 7 — here's what it's like to use it.
Microsoft has announced its Surface Pro 7 tablet-laptop hybrid, which will ship on October 22 starting at $749.
If it looks like something you've seen before, that's because it is — it's very, very similar to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 6.
The devices are the exact same size, with a 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824-pixel touchscreen display. They come in black and platinum shades, and you can add on the same Type Cover, Surface Pen, and Surface Mouse.
I spent some time with the Surface Pro 7 at Microsoft's launch event in New York City. Here's what you need to know.
Surface Pro 7: First impressions
I played around with the Surface Pro 7, and I have no complaints. It was quite light at 1.7 pounds, and the kickstand was super easy to pop out and collapse. This is the main aspect that differentiates the Pro 7 from other 2-in-1 devices; it feels like carrying a tablet around.
Windows 10 looks great on the 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display. The colors were crisp and bright, the touchscreen was responsive, and scrolling and zooming was a breeze.
The Surface Pro 7 is powered by Intel's new Ice Lake 10th-gen CPUs. These only launched a few months ago, so I haven't gotten to see for myself how fast they are. But preliminary benchmarks show that they're a solid upgrade from processors you've used before. This means the Surface Pro 7 offers better integrated graphics than older computers do. You can use it to play less demanding games, and you'll have a good experience. For serious gaming, however, you'll still want something with a GPU.
You can buy the Surface Pro 7 with a Core i3, Core i5, or Core 17. The Core i5 is what most users want, but a Core i7 is mostly necessary for demanding tasks like gaming and video creation. The Core i3 tends to power budget systems and is best for basic browsing. The device can also come with 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM and 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage.
The most significant difference between the Surface Pro 7 and the Surface Pro 6 — and the one that will make tech enthusiasts the happiest — is that the Pro 7 has a USB-C port. Let's face it: This was overdue. When even Apple has dropped its proprietary standard in favor of USB-C, that's a sign that everyone else needs to get with the times. Note: It's not a Thunderbolt 3 port, so you won't be able to connect monitors, docks, or other accessories that require Thunderbolt 3. Other than that, the Pro 7 includes a USB-A, a headphone jack, a microSD slot, and Microsoft's proprietary Surface Connect charging port.
The keys on the attached Type Cover were comfortable to use, but more plastic and not quite as clicky as those you'll find in the Surface and Surface Book lineups. The Surface Arc Mouse was a bit of a stiff click for my liking, but it certainly looks cool, and the Type Cover's touchpad works just fine as an alternative. I enjoyed using the Surface Pen, which slid smoothly across the screen and was comfortable to hold. But these accessories are all optional (and cost extra) — you can swap in your own if you prefer.
In a vacuum, I expect the Surface Pro 7 to be a decent purchase for most people. There's a base option for budget shoppers, all the way up to a high-end model for power users. The main demographic it's not for is serious gamers and anyone else who needs a GPU — the lack of a Thunderbolt 3 port means you can't plug in an external one.
But is it a better purchase than the Surface Pro 6? That's where it gets tricky.
Surface Pro 7 vs. Surface Pro 6: What's the difference?
Here are all the differences between the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Pro 7:
- There are new features for the Surface Pen. You can use it to write directly into Microsoft Excel, for example, and to erase in Microsoft Word. I imagine these features will be available for other Surface Pro devices as well.
- The Surface Pro 7 has better far-field microphones, which you may care about if you're, for some reason, still using Cortana.
- The Surface Pro 6 was powered by Intel's 8th-Gen processors, while the Surface Pro 7 sports the new Ice Lake 10th-gen chips.
- The Surface Pro 7's base model is more, well, basic. The Pro 6 came in Core i5 and Core i7 models, sporting 8GB or 16GB of RAM. The Pro 7, in addition, can come with a Core i3 and 4GB of RAM. To be honest, however, I don't know why you would buy that model; you won't likely have a good experience with a Core i3 unless all you're doing is basic browsing. Sure, those users exist, but I'm not convinced a lot of them are looking at the Surface Pro 7 lineup.
- The Surface Pro 7 has a MicroSDXC slot replacing the Pro 6's microSD slot. As you can probably guess, this means the Surface Pro 7 can accommodate higher-capacity SD cards. MicroSD cards will work a MicroSDXC slot, but the reverse is not true.
- The Surface Pro 6 is .01 pounds lighter, but you won't notice.
- The Surface Pro 7 may have better battery life, but we'll have to test that for ourselves once the device is out. Microsoft claims 10.5 hours, and the Pro 6 lasted between 8 and 10 hours in most battery tests.
For better, faster performance, and the option to connect most modern peripherals via USB-C, the Surface Pro 7 is the right purchase for the techy-savvy user — especially if you want to play any sort of game.
However, if you prefer a lower-powered device at a lower price point, the $699 Surface Pro 6 is more affordable, and sports the same design and features as its new iteration. If you're trying to decide between the two, it's probably worth trying out Pro 6 and seeing how well it handles the tasks you'd need it to do. If you think you want something faster, buy the Pro 7 instead.
The Surface Pro 7 launches October 22nd for a base price of $749, but you can preorder it now. Stay tuned for our full review and benchmarks.
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