Microsoft held an event in Shanghai today, and during the presentation, the company revealed the next iteration of the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet. The new Surface is the fastest model yet, and it purports to have a longer battery life than ever.
This is the fifth generation of the Surface Pro Tablet, but it’s not called the Surface Pro 5. In a move that mirror’s Apple’s fourth-generation iPad launch, the company dropped the numbered moniker.
The fifth-generation Surface Pro tablet is unsurprisingly the fastest Surface Tablet that Microsoft has ever produced. The new Surface features Intel’s 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) Core processors, including a Core m3-equipped unit for the budget conscious, two Core i5 models, and three Core i7 powerhouses. Microsoft said the upcoming Surface Pro tablet offers 2.5x the computing power of the two-generations-old Surface Pro 3.
Microsoft said that it managed to passively cool the Core m3 and Core i5 processors, which means the lower end versions don’t have an internal fan. The i7-equipped Surface Pro tablet includes a cooling fan, but Microsoft said that it doesn’t exceed 18dB, so you’d be hard pressed to hear it in an office setting.
The new Surface Pro also offers the longest battery life of any Surface tablet, at 13.5 hours, which is 50% more than the previous Surface Pro tablet.
Predictably, the new Surface Tablet is smaller and lighter than previous Surface Pro models. Microsoft said it managed to squeeze the processor, memory, SSD, mainboard, and the 12.3” 267ppi TouchSense display into an 8.5mm-thick package. Microsoft joked that the bag that you would carry the Surface Pro in is likely heavier than the 1.7-pound device. Microsoft is also planning to release LTE Advanced Surface Tablets later this year, which won’t be any larger than the non-LTE versions.
Microsoft also offers a new Surface Dock, which features additional USB ports and video outputs for two 4K displays.
New Flip Covers
Microsoft also put in the effort to improve the flip cover to make it more versatile. The standard Surface Pro cover features a new stand position. Previous Surface tablet models would allow you to lay the tablet flat or prop it up to a near vertical position, but the new Surface Pro features a new stand position called “Studio Mode” (inspired by Surface Studio) that props the Surface up at a mild angle to make it comfortable to write and draw on. Microsoft said it improved the cover’s hinge to support 165-degrees of adjustment.
Microsoft didn’t stop at improving the hinge and adding a new stand position, though. The company revealed a brand-new keyboard for its portable tablet that offers what it claimed are premium materials and improved keys. The new Signature Pro Type Cover keyboards feature 1.3mm of key travel, which should improve the typing experience compared to previous Type Cover models.
Microsoft’s Signature Pro Type Cover comes in four different colors: Black, Platinum, Burgundy, and Cobalt Blue. Microsoft wrapped the Signature Pro Type Covers in stain- and spill-resistant soft-touch Alcantara material.
New Surface Pen
Microsoft said that it put a lot of effort into improving the user experience for the next Surface Pro tablet. In addition to the new Type Cover, Microsoft revealed the next version of the Surface Pen. Microsoft said the new Surface Pen is “twice as accurate as the previous version” and “sets the standard for faster, more fluid writing and drawing.”
The new Surface Pen also offers integration with Microsoft Office 365. It brings new inking features to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which allow you to draw and jot notes on your presentations, spreadsheets, and written work.
Microsoft said the new inking features would roll out to Office 365 subscribers in June but didn't state when the Surface Pen would hit the market. The company plans to offer the Surface Pen in the same four colors as the Type Cover when they do arrive, though.
The new Surface Pro tablet and the Signature Pro Type Covers are available for pre-order today from the Microsoft Store, Microsoft.com, and BestBuy.com. Microsoft is also offering the Surface Pro tablet to the Chinese market through JD.com.
The models start at $800, which gets you a Core m3 chip, 4GB RAM, and 128GB of storage. At the highest end, you can get a Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 1TB of storage for $2,700. That's quite a price range, but in between there are several configuration options (see below). Also note that students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities enjoy a slight discount on any model.