This 2-in-1 laptop comes at a high cost


The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is exactly the 2-in-1 laptop I’ve been waiting for. Having bought the Surface Pro 7+ which launched in January 2021, I wasn’t really happy with many of its aspects. It was just a slightly faster tablet than the one that came before it. So when its successor, the Surface Pro 8, Surface’s first major update / redesign since 2015, launched in the US in October, I was thrilled and immediately swapped my Surface Pro 7+ for the Surface Pro 8.

The Surface Pro 8 comes with a larger 13-inch display, including its 3: 2 ratio, a Thunderbolt 4 port, Intel Evo prowess inside, a multi-angle kickstand, and a full Type Cover keyboard. . This is the device that fans of Microsoft’s Surface line of tablets have been clamoring for for many years.

For the most part, the Surface Pro 8 lives up to Microsoft’s claims that it is a tablet that could finally replace the laptop. However, this comes at a high cost.

The Surface Pro 8 that I bought in the US has yet to launch in India and Microsoft has not indicated when it will arrive in the country. The company just said “by 2022” for now. When that happens, you can expect it to be over a lakh in price, especially when paired with the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard and Slim Pen 2 combo which is sold separately.

Microsoft recently launched Surface Go 3, the cheapest of the Surface tablet line. So it’s only a matter of time before the Surface Pro 8 launches in the country.

Why is Microsoft still selling SP8 without the keyboard cover and stylus?

Microsoft has positioned the Surface line of tablets as a “laptop replacement” for some time. That’s why it’s all the more confusing since the keyboard and stylus are sold separately. I mean, the tablet itself is as far from being a laptop replacement as something like a Samsung Galaxy Fold (a foldable smartphone).

The integrated kickstand is absolutely brilliant

Having opened and closed the kickstand dozens of times since receiving my tablet, I can say with confidence that it is stronger than ever. It’s a built-in kickstand, which means you don’t need a fancy blanket with a stand. The kickstand holds up well and you can get the angle you want with no problem. In fact, the kickstand swivels so far back (almost 180 degrees) that you can even use it flat, like a tablet, with the Slim Pen 2 for writing a few notes.

The only position where the crutch doesn’t work as well is when you’re lying on a sofa or bed and you have to use it on your lap. In a few situations, it may not balance out as well.

The display catches your eye

Yes, the first thing that jumps out at you is the display. That’s about an inch better than that of the Surface Pro 7. It’s a 13-inch (2880 x 1920 resolution) touchscreen with a 3: 2 ratio (for better productivity) and bezels. visibly smaller than its predecessors. If you opted for the Signature Surface Pro keyboard, the keyboard will cover the bottom frame in laptop mode. The top bezel is a bit big, but you need something to hang on to when using the device as a tablet.

Microsoft makes the display at 60Hz by default (you must go into settings to enable the higher refresh rate) to conserve battery life. While understandable, I want the tablet to support dynamic refresh rate which automatically adjusts between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on the app being used. This, in turn, would save a lot of battery. Hopefully it will be enabled in a future software update.

Never a stutter but a drum hog

I had the i5 with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. I felt the i7 would be overkill for my use and I was right. There was never a time when the 2-in-1 couldn’t handle my daily chores. With medium to heavy use that included typing, browsing the web, photo editing, hours of listening and watching on Spotify and YouTube, and casual games (Football Manager 2021 and TrackMania), I never really had to worry about such a lag.

There was no limitation when performing any of the tasks and the tablet rarely got hot enough that I could stop what I was doing and turn it off for a few minutes to let it cool.

Thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, I went through my daily tasks with a smile on my face. This is a delicious tablet for everyday use with a word of caution. But those 120Hz will kill above average battery life. From more than ten hours with 60 Hz on to less than eight hours with 120 Hz on. It’s a huge swing. I was hoping for something better from Microsoft after all these years, but alas, we may have to wait for a future iteration of the Surface line.

Without the Signature keyboard, it’s not worth the cost

It’s an optional accessory but I would say it’s absolutely essential. It connects via magnets to the bottom of the Pro 8. The keys are clickable and it’s a pleasure to type things on them (including this entire review). The touchpad might be smaller than most are used to, but it’s big enough for most. The keyboard didn’t wobble even when I was typing fast and furiously. There is also a handy slot for the Slim Pen 2 hidden in the keyboard. The slightly redesigned Slim Pen 2 comes with a built-in haptic engine, and it feels like you’re writing on real paper when drawing or taking notes.

If you think the Signature keyboard is too expensive, you can purchase one of the many third-party Bluetooth keyboards on the market. There is really no shortage of choice.

The tablet for pandemic-induced conference calls

With all the conference calls going on these days, thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the Pro 8 is positioning itself as the best device for working from home. With its 5 mega-pixel front camera capable of capturing 1080p video and dual far-field studio microphones, not only did I look good, but sounded great on everyday video calls as well. There wasn’t a second that someone couldn’t understand me and I looked as sharp as ever, so to speak.

Is Surface Pro 8 a good buy?

The answer is, most definitely, yes! A hybrid between a laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro 8 is the best example of a tablet that can replace a laptop, especially since it runs Windows 11 and not Windows RT (which was intended for certain tablets). Microsoft has listened to its customers and added much-needed upgrades. It has two Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C / USB 4.0 ports, better battery life than before, a 3: 2 screen and 120Hz refresh rate, as well as a formidable Signature keyboard and a Slim Pen 2 to complete it.

Yes, without a keyboard, the Surface Pro 8 isn’t worth the hefty cost. But with the keyboard, which is a pleasure to type, it becomes a complete device. For a number of people, the Surface Pro 8 can definitely replace a laptop.

The Surface Pro 8 is aimed at certain types of users and power users or gamers will want a laptop with a higher GPU. That said, I think the Surface Pro 8 is definitely worth your attention when it launches in the country.

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