I have always been in awe with Microsoft’s Surface Pro laptops back in the early days, where most Windows laptops were barely on par with its quality, I even commended its bold efforts in challenging Apple’s iPad and MacBook Air, the claim of replacing a laptop and tablet totally got into my mind. Until then, I have never owned a Surface Pro for a number of reasons, with its retail price being the top of my list, then it comes down to hardware features, where many other companies have easily caught up or exceeded the Surface Pro, let’s not forget the fact that the company’s direct competitor – Apple, has already future proofed its MacBook Pro’s with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports. Therefore, the refreshed Surface Pro isn’t something that I would recommend to an average user, but it doesn’t mean it is a bad machine as well.

First, the refreshed Surface Pro looks identical to the older Surface Pro 4, except the fact that you now have the option of choosing an Alcantara keyboard cover, which I actually find it to be very comfortable to rest my palm on as I’m typing, the keycaps are decently sized with good travel distance, the Windows Precision trackpad is great but can be small to people with large hands.

Apart from that, the refreshed Surface Pro offers exactly the same amount of ports – a full-sized USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, headphone jack, a proprietary Surface Connector for charging and the expansion dock, and a MicroSD card slot that resides behind the kickstand, there’s no USB-C port or even additional standard USB ports, it is probably the most disappointing set of ports for a modern laptop.

Other than that, the refreshed Surface Pro has gotten a performance upgrade with an Intel Kaby Lake processor, which we have received the Core i5 model for review along with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, this is a decent specs sheet for those looking to run some heavy productivity tasks on the go, but you won’t be able to upgrade them in the meanwhile, so either you buy the max out specs version, or you just have to ensure that you don’t use it for extremely heavy tasks in the long run. One thing I still have to commend on the Surface Pro is the 12.3-inch PixelSense display, it is still one of the highest resolution display for that screen size and a really bright one, which I can still see it properly when using outdoors, you can draw and scribble on the screen with the optional Surface Pen as if on a piece of paper with 4096 of pressure sensitivity. The dual front facing speakers also produce decent volume, though it still isn’t able to pump some punchy bass like you would hear from Apple’s MacBook Pro, but it is good enough for a tablet speaker.

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In terms of battery life, the Surface Pro managed to last me around 7 hours on a single charge, with my usual stress tests of multiple Chrome browser tabs, Spotify and YouTube streaming, which is rather impressive as you don’t really get that much of juice from its competitors, hence I usually don’t find the need to bring the charger along if I’m out for meetings. The Surface Pro’s thermal control is decent, it does get a little warm when held on hand even when I’m not doing any processor heavy tasks, but it doesn’t get uncomfortable over time, that’s actually pretty good considering Microsoft didn’t include a fan.

If you are already looking to buy a Surface Pro in the very beginning, then you will be glad to know that this refreshed model is definitely a better performing model than the previous one, with better performance and battery life. However, what the Surface Pro offers isn’t compelling enough for me to recommend one, given the fact that the model we have here costs RM6,568, you already have many alternatives for a lightweight Windows machine, such as the HP Envy 13, Acer Switch 5, Lenovo Yoga 720 and more, all of which costs lesser than the Surface Pro, not unless you value the form factor and Surface ecosystem, I won’t recommend this as a great option for a premium Windows machine.

The Good

  • Improved system performance
  • Battery life improved over previous model
  • Keyboard cover has decent typing experience
  • Iris scanner works great for Windows Hello
  • Bright and high resolution display

The Not so Good

  • Expensive when compared to similar competitor machines
  • Lack of modern I/O