1.27.18 Tech Review: 2017 Microsoft Surface Pro. The best laptop for bloggers and creators.

Review by Brian Bolding.

 

This month, I’ll be taking a look at the 2017 Microsoft Surface Pro, the Core M base model which is currently available as an educational bundle at Best Buy for $699, complete with type cover in the box. Note that this new model does not contain the Surface Pen, like previous models. Microsoft claims the extra $100 is instead used to bring upgrades and more refinements to the device itself.

Upon first unboxing: I simply fell in love with this device. It’s MUCH improved over previous versions, I can tell, and the thing is just beautiful to behold. Amazing screen, great typing experience with proper feedback on the Type Cover, and just an all around gorgeous experience. It’s super-thin, super portable, and the Core M processor doesn’t seem to be too slow for my needs. I greatly appreciate the improvement and refinement. Windows 10 Pro Creators Update works great on this. Flawless and superb. I much prefer a full OS to the somewhat limited and still dinkish iOS on iPads and such. I appreciate being able to use a full OS on a portable device and not a gamish ripoff of one. I can edit documents in Office, create on the fly in any coffeeshop I want with ease, and the battery has enough life to get me easily through a full day of use, and my use cases vary with my moods. Do I want to write today? Draw today? Watch kitten videos on YouTube day? Shop and surf day? You can do it all with the amazing Surface Pro 2017.

Sure, this is the base model and you could spend hundreds more to get an i5 or i7 model with much more powerful graphics to push those games. However, as a writer and ocassional artist who likes to draw, this is the perfect device for my needs. I’ve had my base model for the past week, and I want to share my thoughts on why I feel this is a solid device for writers and bloggers, ocassional artists and more.

As a former Macintosh user for the better part of 20 years, I warmed up to the Surface Pro 3 a few years back (when I got it for a really good deal at Staples, it was a display model I got for very cheap), the Microsoft Surface line is innovation at it’s finest; a tablet that you can use as a laptop or a tablet whenever you feel the need to do so. I am a huge lover of all of Microsoft’s current Surface devices, including the Surface Laptop (which I also own, see previous review) and the gargantuan Surface Studio. The new Surface Pro “5” is an amazing upgrade and I highly recommend it. While Apple has faltered and slowed down the pace of its innovations (refusing to add touch-screen capabilities to anything other than an iPad), Microsoft has been leading the way in the past 2 years with it’s Surface line of products. This one, for me, takes the cake.

To begin with, let’s go over the specs of the base model Core M Surface Pro. The latest gen sports seventh-generation Intel core processors. This is the new 2017 model that was released last Summer, an upgrade to the Surface Pro 4. The 2017 Surface Pro drops the “5” and focuses on refinements such as a new and improved kickstand for the tablet, as well as tilt support for the new Surface Pen (which is no longer included ‘in box’ as in years past.) Refinements also include faster processors, upgraded chassis for the device itself (rounded corners and thinner bezels.) In all, the 2017 upgrade is amazing, and you may not notice the difference at first between this device and the Pro 4 before it, but you’ll slowly start to notice just how much more improved it is. The kickstand is also improved, and tilts further back than ever before – now sporting a ‘studio mode’ for artists, which essentially looks like the Surface laying nearly completely flush to the ground, providing a little cushion for you to draw, paint, and create. (The upgraded new Surface Pen is sold separately, in four new colors: cobalt blue, platinum, burgundy and black, for $99, respectively. The new Surface Signature Type Covers come in burgundy, cobalt blue, platinum and maybe others, for $159-180. The Type Cover that this bundle comes with is upgraded, to be sure, but does not inhabit the same ‘Alcantara’ fabric feel as the new 2017 type covers. Keep this in mind. If you want extra comfort and more color choice, you may want to purchase a new 2017 type cover and a new Surface Pen, which may set you back an additional $250-300 over the cost of this bundle. If you just get the Pen, that’s just $100 extra, or you could use another Bluetooth stylus without the same upgrades.)

The Surface Pen has been improved this year to push 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as support tilt drawing and shading, which was previously unavailable on subsequent models of the pen. The pen ‘clip’ is also omitted, and the magnetic attachment to the Surface itself has been strengthened and improved with this new upgraded model. The base model includes 128 GB of SSD and 4 GB of RAM. These are light specifications, to be sure, but for my needs and perhaps the needs of others, this is adequate storage and speed for the price. I tried the core i5 and couldn’t tell the difference between the Core M model and the i5 (for my needs.) I don’t play graphic intensive games (but I hear they run adequately well on this); most of my gaming needs are casual games.

This laptop comes with Windows 10 Pro; you can update it to the latest Creators Update by starting up the system for the first time. Now, Cortana guides you through setup. You can easily mute ‘her’ by clicking on the volume icon and clicking next. Setup is easy, seamless, and quick. The screen on this thing is amazing, pushing a 12.3-inch PixelSense display with a resolution of 2,736 x 1,824 (267 PPI.) Essentially, what this means is this thing is a beauty to behold. Microsoft claims the new 2017 Pro nearly doubles the performance of the previous Surface Pro 4 model, and I agree wholeheartedly. This thing is better in every way. Battery life has even been improved; Microsoft claims 12.5 hours of battery life over last years 6-7.

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Ports are good on this device, including a mini SD card reader on the back of the kickstand (I have 128 GB card in mine), as well as a USB 2.0 port, proprietary Surface charing port, audio jack (albeit in an odd place at the top of the left side of the tablet), as well as a mini-displayport. I’m not bothered by the proprietarial Surface Connect port, since it also powers the Surface Dock (which is a seperate accessory that opens up options to connect your Surface to a seperate monitor or other devices.) The speakers on the tablet portion are adequate, louder than last year and good for my needs.

Right now, at Best Buy, you can pick up the 2017 Surface Pro core M base model, complete with a black Type Cover, for around $699. This is a wonderful deal, in my opinion, since the type covers are typically around $100-175 added on to the price of the laptop itself and doesn’t normally come bundled with it. For students, writers, creators who don’t need to push high-memory programs and apps, the core M model is a beast. For my uses, such as light Word and Microsoft Office use, WordPress, Spotify, and more, this laptop does what I need it to do and delivers in spades. The Core M model is also fanless and liquid-cooled (as well as the i5 model, which is about $300 more) so it’s a fantastic device that I highly recommend to those creators like me with basic usage requirements. If you need to push graphic intensive programs such as Photoshop CC or XBox games, please get the i5 or i7 models. Be prepared to shell out $300-500 more than the base model.

For bloggers and writers, this device is a no-brainer. Pick it up today if you want super portability and something that weighs like a feather in your backpack. You’ll love how light this thing is, and how you can literally take it anywhere and won’t feel the impact.

The $699 deal (Surface Pro 2017 with type cover) won’t last long, so gobble it up while you can. Normally, this same configuration with type cover (sold separately) would cost upwards of $8-900. For this low price, it’s totally a slam dunk.

To purchase this special bundle, click here: Best Buy Link

My verdict: A+

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