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Surface Pro 8 review: Microsoft’s best Windows tablet gets big upgrade | Microsoft Surface

Microsoft’s category-defining Windows 11 tablet lastly gets the design and have upgrade Surface Pro followers have been clamouring for, but it surely comes with the sting of worth hike.

The Surface Pro 8 begins at £999 ($999/A$1,649), with out the important £160 ($160/A$260) keyboard, which is £100 extra for the tablet and £35 extra for the keyboard than final yr’s equal fashions.

It’s the most important upgrade since 2014: the design has been revamped to match the extra modern-looking Surface Pro X, with rounded corners, slimmer bezels and a swap from magnesium to aluminium for the physique. It’s 116g heavier and 0.8mm thicker than the final mannequin however seems to be and feels nice.

The kickstand on the again is simply pretty much as good as earlier Surface units, in a position to maintain the tablet regular at a wide range of angles. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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At 13in on the diagonal, the display is larger than the 12.3in of its predecessors. It’s nonetheless compact in contrast with a laptop computer, however the bigger display makes working with a number of home windows a bit simpler. The show helps a quicker refresh charge of as much as 120Hz too, which is frequent on smartphones, high-end tablets and located on Apple’s newest MacBook Pro.

Disappointingly the 120Hz display is a function but to be totally realised. The Pro 8 is ready on a firmware replace due subsequent yr to allow variable refresh rates, which permits the display to robotically modify its velocity relying on the content material on show, saving battery for static photos whereas being tremendous easy for fast-paced animations. For now it’s set to 60Hz by default to avoid wasting battery life.

Specs

  • Display screen: 13in LCD 2880×1920 (267 PPI) 120Hz

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or i7 (Eleventh technology)

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  • RAM: 8, 16 or 32GB

  • Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB

  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe

  • Working system: Windows 11 Residence

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  • Digicam: 10MP rear, 5MP entrance with Windows Hi there

  • Connectivity: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, 2x Thunderbolt 4/USB-4, headphones, Surface Join

  • Dimensions: 287 x 208x 9.3 mm

  • Weight: 891g (with out keyboard)

Quicker and quieter

microsoft surface pro 8 reviewThe tablet totally expenses in simply over an hour and half, reaching 50% in 35 minutes utilizing the included Surface Join energy adaptor. It might cost from the Thunderbolt ports too. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pro 8 ships with new Eleventh-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 chips (as examined), that are 10%-15% quicker than earlier fashions in benchmarks and matched the efficiency of the Surface Laptop computer 4.

A cooling system upgrade retains the machine silent for more often than not, requiring the followers lots much less steadily than earlier variations, which was a really welcome change.

Microsoft has lastly adopted Thunderbolt connectivity too, kitting out the Pro 8 with two USB/Thunderbolt 4 ports, which is a big, trendy upgrade for connecting to shows, high-speed drives and docks, in addition to charging. Nonetheless, the helpful microSD card slot and USB-A socket of earlier fashions have been eliminated.

Battery life stays similar to earlier fashions with solely about seven hours of labor between expenses, which is lower than half the 16 hours of the market-leading MacBook Air.

Sustainability

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 reviewThe Surface Pro 8 has a detachable SSD hidden beneath a flap on the again, which suggests you possibly can upgrade the storage after buy, however Microsoft states it ought to solely be replaced by technicians. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Microsoft doesn’t present an anticipated lifespan for the Pro 8’s battery; these in comparable units usually keep at the very least 80% of their authentic capability for in extra of 500 full cost cycles. The tablet is usually repairable with an out-of-warranty service price of (*8*) and a battery alternative price of £280.44.

The tablet comprises no recycled supplies, however Microsoft operates recycling schemes for previous machines, publishes a company-wide sustainability report and a breakdown of each product’s environmental impact.

Windows 11

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 reviewThe Windows Hi there face recognition is tremendous fast at logging you in. The 5MP internet cam is without doubt one of the best for video calls, however has a comparatively low angle for extra up-nose photographs than you would possibly like. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pro 8 runs the brand new Windows 11, which is similar because the Go 3 tablet, however is far snappier due to the quicker chips. Windows 11 is a greater match for a tablet, with a extra touch-friendly interface and considerably improved touchscreen keyboard.

Windows 11 remains to be a bit tough across the edges however is enhancing quickly. These transitioning from Windows 10 will discover it largely works the identical with a couple of design adjustments such because the central Begin menu.

Signature keyboard and Slim Pen 2

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 reviewThe Slim Pen 2 is without doubt one of the very best styluses obtainable: exact, with very low latency and a terrific really feel. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pro 8 tablet is simply half the equation. It helps Microsoft’s up to date Signature removable keyboard, which is stiffer and flexes much less if you kind than its predecessor. The keys and trackpad are nonetheless nice.

The brand new Slim Pen 2 stylus has a small vibrating motor in it, which prompts if you drag the it throughout the display to supply the feeling of pen-on-paper. It gained’t miraculously offer you inventive expertise, but it surely actually provides to the expertise of drawing or writing on glass. Some apps could make the pen really feel like it’s clicking, too, if you activate sure capabilities or menus.

The Slim Pen 2’s haptics solely work in apps that assist it, reminiscent of Microsoft’s Phrase, Journal, Whiteboard and PowerPoint, Adobe Fresco and a small handful of others to date.

Observations

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 reviewPull the keyboard away from the tablet to disclose the hidden magnetic charging and storage tray for the Slim Pen 2, which is a really neat resolution to the issue of the place to place a stylus when not in use. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

  • The audio system are first rate and may get fairly loud, however lack bass.

  • The display may be very reflective, which may make utilizing it outdoor in direct mild a problem.

Value

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 begins at £999 ($999/A$1,649) with an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and is out there in numerous completely different reminiscence and storage combos. Variations with the Core i7 chip begin at £1,499 ($1,599/A$2,399).

The Signature keyboard prices £159.99 ($159.99/A$259.95) by itself or £259.99 ($279.99/A$429.95) with the Slim Pen 2.

For comparability, the Surface Laptop computer 4 begins at £799, the Surface Go 2 prices £369, the Samsung Galaxy Ebook Pro 360 prices £1,199, the Apple iPad Pro 12.9in prices £999, the MacBook Air prices £999 and the MacBook Pro prices £1,899.

Verdict

The Surface Pro 8 is Microsoft’s best tablet PC but, lastly including some much-needed trendy upgrades to an already successful method.

The extra rounded, sleeker design feels nice. The bigger, higher display with smaller bezels helps productiveness. It has the newest Intel chips, runs a lot quieter and eventually has Thunderbolt connectivity for docks, drives, shows and rather more.

Battery life is nearly ok for a day of labor, however miles behind market leaders. The 120Hz show will likely be a terrific function as soon as it’s totally realised with an replace. The elimination of the microSD card slot is barely disappointing, however the modular SSD may be very welcome. The actual beginning value of £1,160 with keyboard is barely greater than the equal normal laptop computer.

In order for you a compact and adaptable Windows 11 machine that may flip from a stable laptop computer alternative to a inventive tablet immediately, the Surface Pro 8 is unrivalled.

Execs: nice display, good efficiency, Thunderbolt4/USB-4, glorious keyboard (important further buy), glorious kickstand, Windows Hi there, stable construct, nice stylus (non-obligatory buy), detachable SSD.

Cons: pretty costly, keyboard needs to be included, no USB-A port, no microSD card slot, ready for an replace to allow the variable refresh charge of the display.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 reviewThe Surface Pro 8 is out there in graphite black or platinum silver and feels extraordinarily stable, able to journey with you. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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