There are now lots of different Surface computers but the original tablet-like design lives on, with Microsoft continuing to improve on it.

This year's model drops the numbering and is known simply as the Surface Pro.

Microsoft decided that the Surface Pro shouldn't be a tablet anymore, and instead touts it as a "flexible laptop".

And the Surface Pro is, but it does have some compromises and quirks compared with normal, clam-shell style laptops.


Like its predecessors, the Surface Pro has the kickstand support at the back which works great. You can flip out the back flap a bit to make Surface Pro sit up for laptop duties, or lower it almost completely for use as a tablet, for drawing and using your fingers on the screen.

My review device was a mid-range model with a 2.71GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory and 256GB of solid-state storage. It retails for $2199 including GST.

You could splash out up to $4449 for a meatier Surface Pro with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage but it needs fans for cooling whereas the Core i5 doesn't - it is silent always. Plus, the added hardware will reduce the battery life of the device.

Also, you shouldn't walk out of the shop without buying a Signature Type Cover clad in Alcantara for the Surface Pro, along with the very good Surface Pen that offers 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity for realistic screen drawing.

That adds $280 and $160 respectively, pushing up the price for the Surface Pro I had to $2648. Not cheap, in other words; you might be tempted to skimp on the specs a bit and get the Core m3 model ($1349) or the cheaper Core i5 Surface Pro ($1699) but they only offer 4GB of RAM that can't be upgraded.

Windows 10 will be okay with 4GB of RAM and a fast SSD, but 8GB of memory will make the Surface Pro run better.

You do get a nice 12.3-inch PixelSense screen with 2736 by 1824 pixels that's bright, contrasty and has faithful colour representation. It rivals the iPad Pro screens and even has slightly higher pixel density.

Microsoft has honed the Surface Pro design; it now feels balanced and stable to use, and the Signature Type Cover clings on to the Surface Pro securely in most situations. The Type Cover has been uprated too, and is nicer and quieter to type on than its predecessors.


Also, there's a little mousepad on the Type Cover which is accurate and nice to use.

Here's hoping Microsoft has learnt from "Surfacegate" and that the Surface Pro won't see similar problems that have plagued earlier devices.

Overall, the ergonomics of the Surface Pro worked great when used a hybrid laptop/tablet. While I find some parts of Windows 10 annoying, like the slow software updates, it doesn't take long to hit the productivity stride on the Surface Pro. In terms of performance, the Surface Pro equipped as per my review device is more than adequate for day to day computing tasks. Better yet, Microsoft has fixed a major Achilles heel for the earlier Surface Pros, poor battery life.

The new Surface Pro will last 7-8 hours per charge, up from three or so in the Surface Pro 4. Speaking of the Surface Pro 4 and earlier machines, it would seem you should avoid these.

Long-term Windows watcher Paul Thurrott has been following the "Surfacegate" issue that saw the US Consumer Report label the Surface Pro and Surface Book as not recommended, after the industry's highest failure rates.

That's not acceptable for premium devices like the Surface range.

Here's hoping Microsoft has learnt from "Surfacegate" and that the Surface Pro won't see similar problems that have plagued earlier devices.

Nevertheless, the spate of failures have put a sizeable dent in device-buying customers' trust and Microsoft needs to step up its efforts to address the issue.

With that rather large caveat emptor in mind, I'll rate the Surface Pro as a great little portable computer that manages to bridge the laptop-tablet divide rather well.