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article imageMicrosoft unveils new Surface Pro with more power, bigger battery

By James Walker     May 23, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has officially unveiled its new Surface Pro, the latest incarnation of the popular convertible device. The company has focused on incremental improvements to refine the existing experience, adding new processors and subtle design changes.
The launch comes just a few weeks after Microsoft launched Surface Laptop, the newest addition to the family. Today, it returned to the stage at an event in Shanghai, unveiling the "Surface Pro." The company seems to have followed Apple's lead and dropped its numerical branding, explaining Surface head Panos Panay's earlier statement of there being no Surface Pro 5.
Microsoft has deliberately kept the design virtually unchanged from the Pro 4. The overall look and feel remains the same but there have been several discrete alterations. Most significantly, the Surface's iconic kickstand has been modified to mirror the support on the Surface Studio. It now features 165 degrees of rotation so the tablet can lie virtually flat against a desk. It's designed for creatives who want to draw and write on the screen at a natural elevation.
Internally, Microsoft claims to have installed over 800 new custom parts to make the Surface Pro the thinnest, lightest and fastest Surface ever. It's also the densest with 99 percent of its chassis volume occupied by components.
Microsoft Surface Pro [2017]
Microsoft Surface Pro [2017]
Microsoft
To free up more space for hardware, the cooling fan has been removed on all but the most powerful Intel Core i7 models. This enables silent operation, eliminating the occasional fan noise in meeting rooms or while working that could creep in with the Pro 4. This configuration will be available with Intel Core m3 and i5 processors.
All the silicon options available are 7th-generation Intel Kaby Lake chips, the most powerful the company has released to date. They'll be accompanied by several configurable RAM and storage options to let you tailor your Surface to your needs and wallet.
Regardless of the processor you pick, the display will be Microsoft's 12.3-inch PixelSense unit, upgraded from the Pro 4 with custom hardware to improve colour reproduction. Battery life will vary with model but is rated at up to 13.5 hours, 50 percent more than the outgoing Surface Pro 4 and 35 percent more than an iPad Pro.
Microsoft Surface Pro [2017]
Microsoft Surface Pro [2017]
Microsoft
Microsoft has also revamped Surface's signature accessories. The new Type Cover keyboard features 1.3mm of key travel and is covered in Alcantara material. Microsoft has been emphasising Alcantara across the Surface range, claiming its soft-touch fabric creates a more personal connection to the device. Although this could reduce durability, issues are reportedly a rare occurrence.
The Surface Pen team has delivered a significant upgrade too. The pen that will come in the box with the new device has 4,096 levels of pressure, up from 1,024 on the Pro 4. It's also the fastest digital stylus to date as Microsoft has created more custom hardware to directly bridge the gap between the pen and display. The result is that ink appears on the screen almost before the host app can react.
Microsoft has suggested that the Surface Pro represents the culmination of everything learned from past Surface products. All four previous generations have been combined into a new namesake device.
Microsoft Surface Pro [2017]
Microsoft Surface Pro [2017]
Microsoft
Although it's not a radical reinventing, Microsoft has made it clear that dramatic changes won't be introduced until they can make a significant impact. The Surface Pro is meant to affirm Microsoft's presence in the premium convertibles market as the Pro 4 ages, giving customers the new processors and enhanced battery life they've been asking for.
"We know that customers love the flexibility and versatility of the Surface Pro. In fact, Surface Pro 4 users are more likely to recommend their device than iPad and MacBook users," said Panay in a blog post. "But we’re not complacent – we know in order to live up to the expectations of our customers, we must continue to improve and better deliver on our promise on performance, mobility, and versatility – while improving what people already love about the iconic Surface Pro line."
The Surface Pro is available to pre-order in many regions worldwide from today. Pricing starts at $799.99 and shipments will begin on June 15th. The Surface Pro Signature Type Cover is also available to pre-order today with the Surface Pen following in the coming weeks. As with previous accessory upgrades, both will be backwards compatible with the Surface Pro 3 and 4.
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