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Microsoft launches new Surface Pro models



Microsoft's new Surface Pro tablets launch in Australia in mid-June, but how do they compare to the Surface Pro 4?

It's been a fair while since Microsoft updated its core Surface Pro tablet line, with the last update coming courtesy of the Surface Pro 4, which was available in Australia from November 2015.

Microsoft has held intermittent sales on the Pro 4 in the meantime, and launched other products such as the Surface Book with Performance Base and the more recently announced Surface Laptops running Windows 10S. The Surface Pro 4 had to hold the fort as Microsoft's "premium" tablet, even as it was becoming increasingly overtaken by other third party laptop and 2-in-1 manufacturers offering newer processors and features.

Microsoft has unveiled its next generation of Surface Pro tablets, now simply labelled as "Surface Pro", even though you could make the case for it being the Surface Pro 5. The new Surface Pro tablets ostensibly look similar to the Surface Pro 4, with the same split tablet and keyboard approach, although the hinge on the new Surface Pro has been redesigned to allow a tilt-back position not supported by the Pro 4. So how do the new Surface Pros compare to the older Surface Pro 4 devices?

ModelSurface ProSurface Pro 4
Resolution2736 x 18242736 x 1824
Pixels per inch267ppi267ppi
Rear camera8.0MP8.0MP
Front camera5.0MP5.0MP
Processor7th Generation Intel Core M3/i5/i7Intel Core M3/i5/i7
Storage128/256/512GB/1TB SSD128/256/512GB SSD
BatteryUp to 13.5 hoursUp to 9 hours
SoftwareWindows 10 ProWindows 10 Pro

On the specifications alone you might not spot much, although the jump to the 7th generation ("Kaby Lake") Intel processors should give the Surface Pro a solid shot in the arm in performance terms. The other significant jump for the Surface Pro is in battery life.

Microsoft's claim for the new Surface Pro is that there have been substantial redesigns on the internals of the Surface Pro, including a significant jump in claimed battery life, up to 13.5 hours of video playback. That's a huge leap over the 9 hour claimed battery life for the Surface Pro 4.

In terms of ports and connectivity the story is essentially identical to that of the Surface Pro 4, with Microsoft taking the interesting step of not including USB C connectivity for the new 2-in-1, a step many of its competitors are embracing.

Pricing for the new Surface Pro starts at $1199 for a Corem3/4GB RAM/128GB model, $1499 for Corei5/4GB RAM/128GB, $1999 for Corei5/8GB RAM/256GB, $2499 for Corei7/8GB RAM/256GB, $3299 for Corei7/16GB RAM/512GB and if you're feeling particularly flush with cash, $3999 for the Corei7/16GB RAM/1TB version. They're available for pre-order now from the Microsoft Australia Store with shipping by 15 June 2017.

Microsoft has also announced that it will release an LTE variant of the Surface Pro later in the year, although it's not clear if we'll see that model in Australia.

The new Surface Pro also features new keyboard Type Cover choices, with the same alcantara finish as found on the new Surface Laptop models. The new Burgundy, Platinum and Cobalt Blue Type Covers will cost $249.95 in Australia, and will be available from 20 July 2017, according to Microsoft's Australian online store. That's quite a bit later than the new Surface Pro itself.

The Surface Pen also sees a refresh with 4096 levels of sensitivity and a jump in latency down to just 21 milliseconds. It's now being sold as a standalone device for Surface owners, however. The Australian Microsoft store is listing the new Surface Pens, which come in Burgundy, Black, Platinum and Cobalt Blue finishes, but as yet it hasn't announced pricing for the new pen. In the US, pricing is listed at $US99, which would suggest Australian pricing at around $150 once GST is taken into consideration.

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