Hands-on with the Microsoft Surface Pro X

The Microsoft Surface Pro X is the latest addition to the Surface family. ST PHOTO: VIJAY ANAND
The Microsoft Surface Pro X is the latest addition to the Surface family. ST PHOTO: VIJAY ANAND
The Surface Pro X comes with a new Type Cover keyboard and an optional Surface Slim Pen. ST PHOTO: VIJAY ANAND
The Surface Pro X comes with a new Type Cover keyboard and an optional Surface Slim Pen. ST PHOTO: VIJAY ANAND

NEW YORK - Microsoft's Surface hardware launch yesterday (Oct 2) saw an impressive range of devices for a variety of modern work needs. The two most exciting devices - the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo - are dual-screen devices running on the new Windows 10X software. But seeing as they are still a year away before they are ready for prime time, the sexiest Surface that you can get your hands on is the Surface Pro X.

A new addition to the Surface family, the Surface Pro X brings Microsoft's vision for its laptop-tablet hybrid closer to perfection than ever before. Here's our first-hand impression of the Surface Pro X at the launch event.

LOOK AND FEEL

With the Surface Pro X, Microsoft is rethinking the design of the Surface Pro by resolving some of the pain points of its previous products (how to stow the Surface Pen) and merging the Surface Go's portability with the processing prowess and screen size of the Surface Pro lineup.

The most noticeable design change: slimmer bezels, which lets the Pro X fit a 13-inch 3:2 aspect ratio PixelSense display of the same 267ppi pixel density as the 12.3-inch PixelSense display used in the Surface Pro 6.

As a result, the Pro X has a slightly higher screen resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 pixels, up from the 2,736 x 1,824 pixels on the current Surface Pro devices. While Microsoft says this is an edge-to-edge PixelSense display, its bezels aren't as thin as those found in a Dell XPS notebook.

The Surface Pro X is Microsoft's thinnest ever Surface at just 7.3mm. Its rounded edges give the Surface Pro X the illusion of being much less chunky than previous Surface devices with steep edges. It weighs around the same as existing Surface Pro devices at 770g. Although the Surface Pro X can't beat the Surface Go (522g) for portability, the latter has a much smaller screen and a less powerful processor.

For ports and connectivity, the new Surface Pro X offers dual USB Type-C connectors on its left profile. The right profile still sports the Surface Connect port and Microsoft will still be supplying its 65W charger that utilises this port to charge the Surface Pro X.

If you have your own Type-C compatible power adapter capable of delivering enough charging power, you can use the Type-C port to juice up the Surface Pro X and carry one less power brick.

BRAND-NEW COVER AND PEN

The Surface Pro X has been renamed as the Surface Pro X Signature keyboard. It has a newly-engineered spine that can accommodate the new optional Surface Slim Pen. The spine also has the charging coils and magnets to recharge the pen directly.

With the Surface Slim Pen, you no longer have to worry about misplacing your pen or rummaging through your bag for a loose pen. If you're having thoughts of replacing your existing Surface Type Covers with the Surface Pro X Signature keyboard, take note that the new keyboard isn't compatible with Surface Pro products due to its new backbone.

Both the Slim Pen and the Surface Pro X Signature keyboard have also been cleverly engineered such that the magnets will repel and force the pen to flip the right side up so that you will always see its charging status - even if you place it with the bottom side facing up.

With 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt sensing, excellent latency and a rated precision of 0.1mm, the Slim Pen is every bit as capable as a regular Surface Pen. Beyond specs, the rear tip doubles as an eraser and it is meticulously designed to mimic the feedback of a real eraser on the back of a pencil. No words or videos can replicate our experience, but we had a great time with it.

UNDER THE HOOD

The Surface Pro X is designed to be an always-connected mobile device and will feature Gigabit-class LTE connectivity. Microsoft also wanted it to be an always-on and always-ready system to match the instant responsiveness of a smartphone.

To achieve this, Microsoft needed a processor with high power efficiency, while having enough processing power to tackle the typical workloads of a regular Surface Pro. For this, Microsoft turned to Qualcomm to build the Microsoft SQ1 chip that powers the new Surface Pro X.

This custom SQ1 chip is derived from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx compute platform that is competitive with Intel Core i5 processors. While the SQ1 is an ARM-based processor, it is powerful enough to run x86 application under emulation without any discernible penalty.

CONCLUSION

There is a lot to like about the new Surface Pro X over the conventional Surface Pro devices. In fact, its starting price of US$999 (S$1,382) is only slightly more than the price of the Surface Pro 7, which starts from US$749.

Having said that, the Surface Pro X is ideal if you're looking for the most modern Surface device ever, intend to stay away from a power socket for extended hours and appreciate its instant-on, ever-ready traits.

The new Signature Keyboard and Slim Pen sound like excellent options to complement the Surface Pro X, but those will add to the cost. For a higher level of computing power, the Surface Pro 7 will be the better choice with more varied configuration options.

At the time of writing, the US Microsoft Store has opened its pre-orders for the Surface Pro X, which will go on sale from Nov 5. Prices start at US$999 for a model with 8GB of memory and 128GB internal storage and go up to US$1,799 for 16GB of memory and 512GB internal storage.

Microsoft has yet to announce pricing and availability for the new Surface devices in Singapore.

This content first appeared on hardwarezone.com.sg