Microsoft's Surface Pro 2017, unhinged: Luxury fondleslab that's good...

... as in Veblen Good

Review Microsoft waited almost two years to update its boutique computer, the Surface Pro. In the meantime the line expanded to include a detachable tablet (Surface Book), a desktop (Surface Studio) and a proper laptop (Surface, er, Laptop), while the cheaper, Atom-powered POS (Plain Old Surface) fell into the bin and wasn't rescued. So do you want the tl;dr first?

Fine. This won't take long.

The 2017 Surface Pro (no numbers any more) looks almost identical to 2015's Surface Pro 4, but the battery lasts longer, and it's even more eye-gougingly expensive. Older peripherals for the SP4, like the power supply, the Dock, the fourth-gen Type Cover keyboard and the Pen continue to work, but a Pen is no longer included in the box gratis. It will have an LTE SIM card slot, but not yet. And that's about it for the main features. Some tl;drs are harder to write than others. This is one of the others.

The downsides?

Surprisingly, the port selection remains stuck in 2015, more or less: no Thunderbolt or USB-C. There's still only one USB-A port. Battery life is better, but still not great. The perennial problem of glossy touch displays is greasy paw prints, and again you may think about applying your own layer of oleophobic coating. And the price... oh, the price.

The Surface is almost a kind of Veblen good – the more expensive it is, the more people want it!

If you don't have a Surface Pro, I suspect the price is why. You're spending your own money and want better value and a more robust, albeit larger machine, or you haven't been able to get someone to buy one for you. Bear in mind in the table above, it's another £149 for a matching Alcantara keyboard and maybe even £99.99 for a stylus too. Forget the m3 model and it's crazy to buy a "Pro" machine with less than 8GB of RAM. That's topping £1,500.

But if you can get one, you're going to enjoy it a lot. One reader in the comments on my Surface Laptop review reports that at work, given the choice, 90 per cent of staff plumped for a Surface Pro and my only surprise is what were the other 10 per cent thinking?

Here's what I liked about the Surface Pro 2017 edition. Primarily it's the size and weight. I personally rate this over the machine's 2-in-1 versatility (although that too is a big appeal, the sound is great for catching up on TV). It slips into a reporter's bag – remember, it's a 12.3-inch diagonal display – and when you take it out you're working pretty quickly. The 3:2 aspect ratio is greatly underrated, and for both reading and writing documents, 3:2 is preferable to 16:9.

The display resolution remains unchanged, at an insane 2,736 x 1,824.

I also liked the Alcantara keyboard, now with better (1.5mm) key travel up from 1.3mm, with the strange smoothed fabric you get on the Surface Laptop. The Surface Pen has been given a luxury makeover with and now comes at £99.

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022