Price (RRP): $1249-3749 plus accessories
I want to do a review focusing on what makes the Surface Pro 7 (et al.,) special. Why do people swear by it, not at it, and despite a hefty premium price, buy it in droves? And make no mistake the Surface series is the most successful and iconic Windows-based, portable device, ever made.
Surface Pro 7 has a long heritage since 2012
- Pro 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
- RT, 2 and 3 (and now X – an ARM processor version)
- Laptop 1, 2, 3
- Book 1 and 2
- Studio 1 and 2
- Hub 1, 2, and 3
- Not to mention the upcoming Surface Duo (Dual screen) and Neo (Surface Phone).
Why do we love hybrid tablets?
Aussie research analysts Telsyte found 1.44 million tablets were shipped in 2019 and a total of 3.9M Australians are now using a 2-in-1 (tablet with detachable keyboard) where Windows dominates with 65% market. Surface has most of the Windows market.
What the figures show is an almost complete move to laptops and hybrid tablets over desktop PCs and Macs.
So, what makes Surface 7 so special?
To answer that, let’s start in October 2012 when Microsoft gave birth to the original Surface. It had a 10-inch, 3:2 format, touch screen, mag-alloy body and ran Windows RT which very few people realised means it ran on an ARM processor.
Still, it was the first Windows Surface ‘tablet’. RT stood for ‘Real Time’, not ‘ReTreat’ as many anti-Windows wops called it. It was a bold move by Microsoft to test the waters of the low-cost end of the mostly non-existent Windows tablet market.
I know many owners who were still using it five years later, precisely as Microsoft wanted – as a vehicle for Office productivity and content consumption. I (well my family) had an RT that finally died due to battery issues in 2017 – very well made. It was not the misstep that the wops called it but provided proof-of-concept for the Surface Pro 1 running Windows 8.1 in February 2013.
Surface Pro 1 – 10”, i5-3317U, 4/64 – ahead of its time for 2013!
I was at the launch and was fascinated at the tablet that ‘could replace a laptop’. Of course, you needed to buy (and still do) the keyboard (Type Cover), mouse (the screen was touch) and Stylus (Pen) separately and we journalists had a field day on the inordinate cost of those. Nothing has changed.
But back in 2013, there were no mainstream Windows tablets with USB-A and mini-DisplayPort that could work in a 2-in-1 (tablet or desktop) mode. I will never forget running a Surface and Surface dock with two external monitors, a printer, various USB devices and acting as a network server to several other Surface Pros at the huge conferences we ran at that time. Amazing.
That device was still going strong until its battery died last year. We replaced it with a 10” Surface Go (great handbag/travel size, yes with full-fat Windows and just as much connectivity as the larger 12’’ Surface Pros).
Today I use a Surface Pro 4 (circa October 2015) as my daily drive at my Central Coast home/office, my wife uses a Surface Pro 5 (circa June 2017) as hers and we both use the excellent Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro dock (the only other dock with the Surface Ribbon connector approved for Surface Pro). Both have never missed a beat, and we expect them to last for at least another five years. In a tri-monitor set up, the Surface Pro is hard to beat for productivity.
BTW – I bought each of the kidaults a Surface Pro Book (circa October 2015) as their daily drive.
The Book (now in 13.3 and 15″) has a separate NVIDIA GeForce GTZ 965M GPU, larger screen 13.5” clipboard screen and dual batteries. They need the extra power, battery and GPU for study, games and entertainment and again I expect a great life out of them.
So why did I choose Surface Pro as a daily drive?
- 3.2 format touch screen is vastly better for displaying Office documents – productivity
- An excellent ‘reference’ quality display that is easy on the eye with accurate sRGB colours, brightness and sharpness
- A build quality and mag-alloy chassis that cannot be beaten – mandatory if you travel
- Great cooling so no throttling
- Offers a tablet for travel and a desktop for the office as well as some LTE options
- Regularly updated (as well as Windows)
- A stylus (when I need it) for PowerPoint and Skype
- Can lay back to 160° to a studio style workspace
- Meets my productivity needs for speed
- I can still use the original TypeCovers, stylus and docks
- Windows Hello is a natural way to sign in
But the number one reason is convenience – use it anywhere with that excellent kickstand.
What I am not so enamoured with
- Until now one USB-A and mini-DisplayPort means you need to invest in the Surface Dock ($299) or Kensington Dock ($499) BUT the new Surface Pro 7 has a USB-C port at the expense of the mini-DisplayPort – it should have had Thunderbolt 3 with the 10th gen Intel processor
- And Windows ‘privacy’ needs a lot of work – use ShutUp10 – what Windows should have had in the first place
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – the best Surface Pro ever designed by Microsoft😂
Well, duh. I am continually amused when Apple CEO Tim Cook invariably stands up and says, “This is the best iPhone, iPad, MacBook, watch, pod, … that Apple has ever made”. In fact, there are over 1 billion references to this well-worn cliché on the web. Well – you could not expect Cook to tell it like it is, “We have managed to reduce cost, increase prices, and recycle all our old tech, so our ARPU (Average Revenue Per EWE – sheep) allows us to make even more money.”
I have scoured the web and Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella does not appear to make such self-serving and well-crafted statements. In fact, I learnt that he has been voted the best boss in the US, having turned around flailing and failing Microsoft since 2014. BTW: Tim Cook does not get a look in on the top 10 list (OK, he is at #12).