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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Surface Pro 7 review: Windows world has its own hybrid dream machine

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is ideal for those in the Windows ecosystem who need a device that is both powerful and mobile. Here's our full review.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rs. 141,999
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: June 19, 2020 8:50:58 am
Surface Pro 7 review Surface Pro 7 review: Windows world has its own hybrid dream machine (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

Never before in my twenty-year career has there been so much concern about the hardware we use for our work. Earlier, it would be someone else’s headache… something a call to the office IT helpline can fix. Now, we are on our own, left to fend for ourselves as companies cope with the new normal as thousands of employees work from home.

This is where a lot of us are cursing the day we decided to buy computers that fit our budgets and not exactly the requirements we might have. And this is also why there is a surge globally to acquire better devices compared to what is already available with the employees. The older, underpowered, computers can always be handed down to the kids who are also in a way working from home now.

Microsoft hopes lot of companies, and their employees, will consider its new range of Surface devices when the time comes for this upgrade. There are Surface products that fit all kinds of use cases and the Surface Pro 7 is almost at the top of this pyramid, catering to top-management and power users. Here is our review

Surface Pro 7 price in India: Rs 141,999

Surface Pro 7 specs: 12.3- inch PixelSenseTM Display (2736 x 1824p, 267 PPI) | Quad-core 10th Gen Intel® CoreTM i7-1065G7 Processor + 16GB RAM | Intel Iris Plus graphics | 256GB storage | Windows 10 Pro | USB-A, USB-C | 5MP front + 8 MP rear camera | 790 grams

Surface Pro 7 review The Surface Pro 7 is a sleek portable tablet (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

What is good about the Surface Pro 7?

The Surface Pro 7 is a sleek portable tablet with a kickstand. Yes, it has a type cover that offers the keyboard and is also compatible with the Surface Pen. So nothing really new here, except for the fact that this is a new version running touting the latest specs Microsoft has to offer.

At my home there are three people logging on to work — including my eight-year-old — at any given point of time. This means not everyone gets to sit on a table to work and that person is usually me. I am for most of the day balancing my Mac on the sofa arm which gives the best angle in relation to my line of vision. With the Surface Pro 7 and its innovative kick stand, this in not something that worked for me. And then I could no prop it up on my lap either as the sharp stand bites in after a bit. So the design, while perfectly fine for normal times, could turn peculiar when things get weird like in the past few months of human existence.

The 12.3-inch PixelSense display is bright and sharp so that you do not miss out on anything. Someone like me who has to read and edit a lot of copies that come in all sorts of fonts and font sizes, the bright screen compensates for my receding eyesight. It also makes for a great consumption screen and you will enjoy watching movies or Netflix on it. The audio quality is good and that helps when you are not wearing headphones — but in the past few weeks, headphones seem to have become such a big part of our lives, like masks. One small grouse though. With the type cover on, it gets a bit hard to reach out to the bottom on the screen with ugly larger fingers like mine. So I did turn to the Surface Pen for help often.

The Type Cover is good and offers a decent amount of travel ensuring that you enjoy the typing experience. Also, the fact that there is a good-size trackpad makes the device more akin to a laptop — remember, this is still a tablet at the end of the day as the type pad is an accessory you need to buy extra.

The Surface Pen continues to be the best stylus for a larger screen. There are customisations possible, but the Pen has not really improved its features over the past year.

The Surface Pro 7 offers both USB-C and USB-A ports and this helps increase productivity drastially, especially when most of the other tablets don’t offer these. You can plug in a pen drive or even a Bluetooth mouse for work and that convenience has not been taken away to offer more portability.

Surface Pro 7 review The 12.3-inch PixelSense display is bright and sharp so that you do not miss out anything. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

The review unit I got has an Intel Core i7 processor yoked with 16GB of RAM. This is good enough to edit high-resolution photos and even some video. Even with regular work, you will not get stuck. You can see the power of this device as work as you cycle between the many apps and screens running in the background and coming back to life in a micro-second. Performance will not be an issue.

For those entrenched in the Windows ecosystem, the operating system is very easy to understand and navigate. There is also a full tablet mode which would be favoured by those on the move more. Over the years, Microsoft has really opened up to the use of new users and that shows in a lot of the tweaks on the software side. For instance, a whiteboard is built into the home screen itself, a acknowledgement of the new work culture.

With a full charge, the Surface Pro 7 will be able to offer about 8-10 hours of life. However, you should keep the brightness lower and move to the battery saver mode to get more out of this device.

Surface Pro 7 review The Surface Pen continues to be the best stylus for a larger screen. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

What you should keep in mind?

The Surface Pro 7’s design is something you should keep in mind. I would not recommend this for those who open up their laptops in all sorts of places. This essentially a tablet with a stand and to use it thus you will need a stable base.

But somewhere, despite all the hardware goodness, this device does feel too business-like. It is a bit too serious for me, and lacks the fun elements. Maybe I’m missing the apps, or the camera… something is amiss for sure.

There are no other quirks I noticed during the time I used the device.

Who should buy it and why?

The Surface Pro 7 is ideal for those in the Windows ecosystem who need a device that is both powerful and mobile. But I am not sure you should look at this option if the portability is not something you really want. But the way Microsoft has made this, usability and convenience is not really an issue.

However, then this version is not for everyone given the Rs 141,999 price tag for the Core i7, 16GB, 256GB combination. If you are looking for a device to primarily write, consume and work Excel sheets on, the i3 version should suffice. This is clearly Microsoft answer to the Windows world’s needs for its own iPad Pro.

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