Microsoft's 2017 Surface Pro and the law of diminishing returns |

Microsoft’s 2017 Surface Pro and the law of diminishing returns

Posted:  September 26, 2017   By:    8 comments   


Microsoft’s Surface Pro lineup have pretty much set the standard for the 2-in-1 detachable category. I don’t think there’s a device in the market right now that can really match the package Microsoft offers with their Surface Pro.

But, like Surface Pros tend to be, they’re very expensive and that usually begs the question: Is it worth the premium over the other, more affordable, 2-in-1 detachables in the market? Well, today I got to spend some time with Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro and here’s what I think.

Before I begin, let’s get some specs out of the way. Microsoft’s new Surface Pro isn’t so much a new device than it is a refresh of the old Surface Pro 4. As a result, you get the usual bump in specifications including an upgrade to the newer 7th generation Intel Core processors (m3, i5 and i7) plus several nice hardware upgrades. These include a more refined magnesium shell with more rounded corners and more recessed cooling vents for a sleeker overall look. At a glance, though, don’t expect the untrained eye to be able to distinguish it from its predecessor.

Besides that, the Core m3 and Core i5 models are also completely fanless, which makes the device lighter than the Surface Pro 4. A reduction in weight for something you usually carry around all-day is definitely a welcomed feature.

Further, Microsoft also developed a brand new hinge mechanism for the Surface Pro which means it can now open far further than it used to, giving users access to a new stand mode called “Studio” where the Surface Pro is practically lying flat. This is designed for people who do artsy stuff and want to draw/paint on their Surface Pros.

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As good as those upgrades are, the best part about the 2017 Surface Pro, though, has to be the remarkable bump in battery life. This new device will last 50% longer than the one it precedes, bumping maximum time on battery up to a staggering 13.5 hours.

That said, while on the surface everything seems amazing, there’s one big omission that Microsoft made with the Surface Pro 2017 that I simply cannot forgive: Its I/O.

For a brand new — very expensive — flagship product which pretty much leads the entire market, the new Surface Pro doesn’t come with a USB Type-C port. Instead, you get a Surface Connector, a microSD card slot, a mini DisplayPort, and a full-sized USB Type-A port.

When I asked the Microsoft representatives during the workshop/event today, their answers — that ranged from somewhere along the lines of “it’s better for the consumer” to “there is no industry standard for USB C” — seemed more like they were trying to convince themselves rather than a legitimate reason.

As market leaders — industry leaders, even — why are Microsoft waiting around for an “industry standard” for USB C? Shouldn’t they be the ones to set the standard for the world to follow? With the Surface Pro lineup being the household name that it is, surely Microsoft has enough influence to push this new standard of technology. To show the world how it’s supposed to be done.

Just look at Apple, they up and decided one day that they were only going to use USB C on their laptops. And the world fell into place behind them.

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But I guess I’ve beat this dead horse enough times, so let’s move on to the big thing that I set out to investigate with this new Surface Pro.

Is it worth the premium?

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8 Comments for Microsoft’s 2017 Surface Pro and the law of diminishing returns


I think the battery life and weight really do plays a big role in determining the winner here. I’ve been using the Surface Pro 3 for months, and my only complain with it is only the battery life. The reason someone would wanna get a tablet is simply because of the convenient it offer, definitely preferred to be light and with good battery life so that you could easily leave the power brick at home. Not to mention the Windows 10 experience is swift with the Surface.

However, with the launch of the Surface Pro 4, it is simply unforgiving that they didn’t include the pen with it anymore, yet raising the price for both the device and keyboard. The keyboard should have come with it if they didn’t have the pen.

As for USB Type C, it shouldn’t be a big deal. This is largely because USB C still uncommon with most PC peripheral devices. If they add in USB C, then it would have been a bonus for all. But if they simply replace it, then it would cause pain to all users, just like the Macbook.

    Rory Lee

    I agree that those are nice bonuses, especially when it's a device you carry every day. However, the point I'm trying to make is that at a premium of about RM3,000, that's a luxury not many can afford. In the grand scheme of things, the more affordable device can give you nearly the complete experience for a fraction of the cost, hence the law of diminishing returns. Regarding USB C, I'm also not saying that they should only use USB C, I'm saying that they should have added at least one USB C port. After all, if it's done right, that is an incredibly versatile port.


      portability may not be just a nice bonus for a portable device?
      same goes for batter life. state of the art tablet without battery power is just an expensive paper weight.
      besides it has always been the case that slimmer and light notebook always cost more…

      on the other side, your so call USB C is a nice to have. there is no need to spend so many words on it.


      They are targeting professional and enterprise, not average users.
      I believe under business decision, USB-C is just a nice-to-have, but not a must-have feature.


        Professional people don’t use USB C? Then Lenovo, Dell and Apple must be targeting millennials by your logic. Have you heard of external GPU or Thunderbolt 3? Maybe you think too highly of yourself as a professional.


          No professional in the world uses an external GPU… and a fraction of home users haven't even heard of "external GPU". USB-C isn't accepted yet to the extent where people commonly use it for peripherals, etc.

          Find me an office environment where working professionals with their docking stations, pendrives, etc. come in USB-C. It's unfortunate, but enterprise is still using legacy USB.

          Before talking about Thunderbolt 3, educate the average consumer about the differences between normal USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. You have no idea how many people this confuses and who think it's the same. At the same time, educate people about USB-C charging so that they don't ask questions why their high-powered laptop isn't charging properly through USB-C when using a normal phone charger with a USB-C cable attached.

          LIEN WEE HOO

          How many thumb drive with USB-C you see in the market? Somewhere. How many USB-A u can find? Everywhere. This explained it all.


Finding an alternative to Surface’s original docking station is difficult with only USB-3. USB-C is easier.

Didn’t have good experience after receiving a unit last week. Occasionally getting stuck in Egde using touch but mouse cursor works, weird.

The touchpad + cursor make me forget that you have a Touch screen. Many other desktop operations, still work better using cursor.

Need sometime to adjust.