When a friend asked if I would recommend the Surface Pro X, I had to pause for a second. This isn't a bad computer, but it certainly isn't for everyone. This laptop is a sneak peek at the future of mobile computing - one that is the perfect device for a select group of people.
Microsoft's design team are doing the best work in their field and I wouldn't be surprised to see other companies emulate the look of this laptop. The Surface Pro X chassis is made of a matte black, anodised aluminium with a kick stand that lets you gradually adjust the screen to sit at an angle that works for you.
Unfortunately it's a fingerprint magnet and "lapability" might be an issue for those with smaller legs. I was able to use it on a bus, but a traditional laptop is easier to position on your lap. That said, using it on a desk gave me no problems.
The Surface Pro X keyboard snaps right into place and is breeze to type on. The keys are nicely spaced, there is decent key travel and the trackpad is responsive. Gently pulling on the keyboard reveals the Surface Pen charging dock which automatically charges the stylus and magnetically holds it in place. As I stated in my review of the Surface Laptop 3, Apple could learn a thing or two from Microsoft about making keyboards.
This device is one of the few convertible laptops that manages to work well in tablet mode and with the keyboard. It's great for watching Netflix in tablet mode while still providing the full Windows 10 experience.
My biggest disappointment was the lack of a headphone jack. You can use your old headphones with an adaptor but it feels strange to be doing this with a laptop. Two USB-C ports are placed on the left side of the unit and they can also be used for charging.
With continuous usage, I was able to work for 10 hours on a single charge. I spent most of this time using the new Edge browser. I can't remember the last time I recommended a browser from Microsoft but this one is worth taking a look at. It's built on the Chromium engine so it's similar to Google Chrome but with noticeable battery life improvements.
This laptop ships with a 65-watt Surface connect fast charger. I was able to charge the battery up to 50 per cent in a little over 30 minutes.
Display, sound and cameras
The 13-inch touchscreen is beautifully bright and particularly eye-catching with its smaller bezels. The display has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is perfect for those who spend the majority of their time writing emails and scrolling through the web.
I wasn't expecting much from the small speakers but they're clear and loud. The Surface Pro X has no fans so it's silent and somehow never gets warm.
The cameras on Surface Pro X are better than expected for laptop computer. The front-facing 5.0MP webcam shoots 1080p video and the rare camera can shoot in 4K.
My review unit has a 256GB SSD, 16GB of RAM and a custom ARM-based Microsoft SQ1 processor. This Qualcomm chip is similar to what you'd find in a smartphone, while most laptops use Intel chips. Microsoft is taking a risk here but on paper it makes sense. ARM chips are small, power efficient and will likely become commonplace in the future.
Unfortunately the results are a mixed bag. Spotify, Netflix and Office apps work wonderfully but some of the apps you rely on could be incompatible with this laptop. The vast majority worked for me but the Adobe suite (Photoshop, Lightroom etc) was a no-go. This isn't necessarily Microsoft's fault and Adobe have announced they are bringing their suite to the Surface Pro X "as soon as possible".
Windows 10 comes pre-installed, but software compatibility with ARM-based chips is still a work in progress. This reminds me of the first tablet computers - they're unique and beautiful but the limited app availability makes it a tough sell to the mass market.
This custom chip does have its positives. Your average laptop takes a while to turn on and login before you can start being productive. The Surface Pro X has an "Instant On" feature which wakes up the computer quickly without the need for waiting around. Going back to a traditional laptop felt slow after getting used to this way of working.
Just like a smartphone, you can slot a SIM card into the Surface Pro X so you're always connected. One afternoon I found myself with no phone or Wi-Fi and this feature proved extremely useful.
The Surface Pro X provides a glimpse into the future of mobile computing. It wouldn't be fair to complain about its inability to do high-end gaming or video editing because it simply wasn't designed for that audience. This is for a person who works mainly in the Office suite and wants a laptop that is super thin and always connected.
Being a Microsoft product means this laptop isn't pre-loaded with bloatware (pre-installed apps or trial software) and you can get support from Microsoft directly.
The future doesn't come cheap - my unit is priced at $2799 and that doesn't include the keyboard or the Surface Pen.
• Full configuration options and pricing is available on the Microsoft website.