Microsoft Surface Pro 8 for business: a true love letter

Over the past few years here at ZDNet, I’ve written a lot on my iPad Pro. It’s my work machine for writing, organizing my inbox, and bouncing between Slack and Discord.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

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But even though the iPad has become a staple in my workflow over the past decade, I’m tired of using too much hardware with software that hasn’t yet fulfilled its potential. It is hoped that the announcement of the iPadOS 16 next month will add, at the very least, real external display support and better accessory support.

Over the past few months, I’ve been testing different devices, mostly Windows laptops, in an effort to find something to replace my iPad Pro. The Surface Laptop Studio is fast, powerful and fun to use, but it lacks 4G technology and is very large compared to the iPad Pro. I’ve used the iPad Pro intermittently since its release, and the form factor is good, but the lack of full support for Microsoft’s slow transition to ARM via third-party apps results in slow performance.

I immediately tried a Surface Pro 8 4G. In fact, this model is more specifically called the Surface Pro 8 for business.

A new Surface look … in a way

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

When Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 8 in September 2021, the company unveiled a new design for the Surface Pro line. In fact, it’s not a new design, but the same overall design as the Surface Pro X. Putting the Pro X next to the Pro 8, the only noticeable difference I can see right away is that the Pro 8 thicker than the Pro X. .Otherwise, they are the same.

The PixelSense display on the Pro 8 has a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, responds to touch, and can be used with a Surface Pen.

The built-in kickstand allows you to change the viewing angle of the Pro 8’s screen, including placing it almost flat on a table, an ideal position for drawing or writing with the Surface Pen.

On the right side of the Pro 8’s case there is a Surface Connect port and two Thunderbolt 4 ports for connecting external displays, hard drives, or using any USB-C accessory. Just above the Pro 8 the only two ports are the power button. The left side of the case has a 3.5mm headphone jack and the volume up/down button.

Above the screen, you’ll find a 5-megapixel camera as well as all the hardware needed for face recognition to use Windows Hello to open Pro 8 or log into apps.

surface-pro-8-for-business-4.jpg

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

If you open the kickstand, you’ll find a small door in the bottom left corner of the Pro 8’s case. You’ll need to use a SIM card device or a paper clip to hold the small hole. to eject the cover. Underneath the lid is the Pro 8’s SSD storage – which you can swap and replace yourself – as well as the SIM card slot.

You don’t have to use a physical SIM card thanks to the Pro 8’s eSIM support, but since I’m always switching from Pro X to iPad Pro, I already have a dedicated SIM card.

The box contains the Pro 8 and a charger that uses the Surface Connect port. If you don’t want to bring the included charger, you can use one of the USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports to charge the tablet.

What you won’t find in the box is a stylus or keyboard. However, you will need to purchase it separately. If you’ve been a long -time Surface user, I have some bad news for you: previous Surface keyboards won’t work on the Pro 8.

There are three different options for equipping your new tablet with a keyboard, making it 2-in-1. You can choose the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard (177 €), the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with fingerprint reader (slightly more expensive), or the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard combo with Slim Pen 2 (230 €).

I already have a combo kit, so that’s what I use in my testing.

Whichever keyboard you choose, they all have a Surface Slim Pen 2 slot on top of the keyboard. If folded, the stylus will be placed on the bottom bezel of the Pro 8. The stylus charges wirelessly, so it’s always ready to use.

Overall, I like the design of the Pro 8. In fact, I found myself using it as a tablet more than the iPad Pro, simply because the kickstand is built into the case. There is no other cover or case I will face. Very nice.

But can it replace an iPad Pro?

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Inside the Surface Pro 8 I tested was an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD. The computer runs Windows 11 Pro out of the box.

One of the first things I did after setting up the Pro 8 was to enable 120Hz refresh rate, instead of the standard 60Hz. Overall, I’m not sure it’s absolutely necessary on the Pro 8. Yes, it helps, but it comes at the cost of battery life.

I still haven’t reached the 14-hour estimate of battery life, even using the Pro 8 only over Wi-Fi. However, the Pro 8’s battery will last as long as my iPad Pro, which typically lasts up to 8 hours a workday, give or take an hour.

One thing that surprised me after using the Pro X and iPad Pro and upgrading to the Pro 8 was the fact that the Pro 8 has a fan. The Pro 8 is thicker than the Pro X to make room for a cooling system. The fan isn’t noisy, but it rotates a lot, especially when I have a Pro 8 connected to an external display.

surface-pro-8-for-business-5.jpg

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Speaking of which, I had the Pro 8 connected to a monitor for most of my testing. With the addition of Thunderbolt 4 support, I use every Thunderbolt 4 port I have on hand.

The ability to connect a tablet to an external display and have it work the way it should was a huge improvement on my productivity. I was able to have apps like Slack and iCloud messaging open on the Pro 8 screen, while writing iA Writer on the large external display with multiple Edge tabs open.

If I work with my iPad Pro connected to a display, everything on the iPad screen is mirrored on the large screen. There are some apps that use Apple’s standard API for external displays, but it’s not great.

Also, I had to resort to several workarounds to do some iPad tasks. For example, to post content on ZDNet, I always have to remotely access my MacBook Pro and use Chrome to add images to an article, otherwise the content management system crashes. To be fair, this is a Safari problem that is also present on the Mac. However, I can use the real version of Chrome on a Mac and not a version of the WebKit renderer that Apple forces developers to use on the iPhone and iPad.

I know that the Pro 8 runs a full OS under Windows 11, while the iPad Pro runs a mobile-focused OS under iPadOS, but the devices are the same size and target the same type of user. Even the prices are almost enough to warrant a comparison.

The total cost of the Surface Pro 8 with 4G, as well as the Signature keyboard cover with Slim Pen, is about 2000 euros. The iPad Pro with 5G, 16 GB of memory, 1 TB of storage, the Magic Keyboard of Appeal with trackpad and an Apple Pencil costs more than 2500 euros.

There’s a lot more the iPad Pro can do better

I’ll admit, so far I’ve written what feels like a love letter to the Surface Pro 8, but that’s because it’s worth it. It’s a unique 2-in-1 device that I really like to use, but there are a few areas where the iPad Pro is a much better device.

I prefer to use Apple’s Mail app on my personal iCloud+ domain rather than Thunderbird or the iCloud website to access my email. I also love writing on the iPad because there are so few distractions that there is only one app open and visible. I need to experiment more with using fullscreen Windows apps and Focus to help create a similar Windows experience. It’s also a better tablet thanks to an interface designed for touch.

The other thing I like about my iPad Pro is that its performance is reliable and consistent. If I use Pro 8 with a lot of apps open, sometimes there is a slight delay or pause before an app shows up after being downloaded. This problem is not specific to an application; I always find it on Thunderbird, Discord, and Slack.

In conclusion

After a few weeks of my iPad Pro sitting on a shelf, I started using it again as my primary device. But I’m already missing out on some features and things I can do on the Surface Pro 8 that I can’t do on the iPad Pro-like plugging in a webcam to live stream a 4G event (which bag -or just me for my family members who can’t attend. a funeral).

So, iPad or Surface Pro 8? For me, it will depend on what iPadOS 16 brings to the iPad or not. But for the rest, if you’re torn between the Surface Pro 8 and the iPad Pro, I’ll say this: you can’t go wrong with any device. They are both unique in their own right.

In the end, though, you get a full PC with Surface Pro 8 and, now, 80% of a PC with iPad Pro.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best Prices:

  • Rakuten

    979.89

  • market in Fnac

    1007.00

  • Cdiscount Marketplace

    1036.97

  • Amazon Marketplace

    1110.94

  • Amazon

    1133.98

  • Baker

    1179.00

  • Way to buy

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  • Darty

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  • Fnac

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  • LDLC

    1199.95

Source: “ZDNet.com”

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