Microsoft Surface Pro X Review: An almost perfect laptop replacement! Almost!

    The Microsoft Surface Pro X brings Windows 11 in a tablet, making it way more productive than an equivalent iPad. Should you buy it though?
    By AMRITANSHU MUKHERJEE
    | Updated on Feb 04 2022, 08:54 AM IST
    The Microsoft Surface Pro X comes to India with a 2-year-old SQ1 chipset. 
    The Microsoft Surface Pro X comes to India with a 2-year-old SQ1 chipset.  (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    The Microsoft Surface Pro X comes to India with a 2-year-old SQ1 chipset. 
    The Microsoft Surface Pro X comes to India with a 2-year-old SQ1 chipset.  (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    Would you buy a Windows 11 tablet? Your answer may contain the word “no” in some form or the other. A desktop OS like Windows has always required a powerful processor and that means putting such a combo on a tablet results in poor battery life, or compromising with the performance. Do you recall the countless Windows 8 tablets from PC makers? Enter the Microsoft Surface Pro X – a sub- 1 lakh tablet that runs on Windows and promises to offer an always-on tablet for professionals!

    A tablet for professionals – this is a game that Apple has been dominating with its iPad Pro. Microsoft, however, puts up its desktop-grade Windows 11 instead of a crippled operating system. It then pairs it with its SQ1 chip, which is based on the same underlying technology as your smartphone chip. It then gets all the professional accessories a pro could need to get going.

    With a starting price of Rs. 97,290, the Surface Pro X makes tall promises. Does it succeed?

    Surface Pro X Design

    As part of the base package, you only get the Surface Pro X tablet in the box, along with the proprietary charger. On Amazon India, you can spend up to Rs. 1,09,900 to get the keyboard cover along with the tablet. The Surface Slim Pen 2 is an optional extra that you can buy.

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    The Surface Pro X looks like a larger iPad Pro with slightly thicker bezels on two sides. The 3:2 display makes for a unique form factor, but works wonders while doing office work. There’s a built-in kickstand on the rear that neatly tucks in with the rest of the body when closed. A 10MP camera is present for scanning documents, or shooting video in 4K. Those slim bezels at the front also house a 5MP video call camera surrounded with IR sensors for Windows Hello-based face unlock tech.

    Oh, if you notice carefully, you will find the 2W stereo speakers cleverly hidden on the seams of the display bezel. Plus, the face has got a lot of strong magnets to hold on to the Surface keyboard cover securely.

    At 774 grams, it isn’t a very comfortable tablet to move around with, but the slim body makes it somewhat easy to grab and get work done in the tablet mode. The adjustable kickstand is a blessing for us professionals, especially when you have attached the keyboard cover. Every tablet SHOULD have a kickstand built-in.

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    Despite the slim chassis, the Surface Pro X holds two USB-C ports and Surface Connect port for its proprietary magnetic charger. Having 2 USB-C ports on a tablet is a luxury you cannot afford on the iPad Pro, or any other tablet.

    The optional keyboard cover is well built and works surprisingly well for a makeshift keyboard deck, complete with its own trackpad. The keys have decent travel and make working on short documents easy. That said, writers should carry a separate keyboard for longer writing sessions, such as the Logitech MX Keys Mini keyboard. I am also unsure of the Alcantara surface you get on the deck – how will it hold up against the dusty and grimy Indian conditions on the long run?

    Surface Pro X Display

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    With its 13.3-inch PixelSense display, the Surface Pro X makes working on it a breeze. At 2880 x 1920 pixels, this is a very high-resolution display and has a great colour profile to flaunt. Whether it’s the fancy Windows 11 interface or web shows on Prime Video, it is a joy to watch them on the Surface Pro X. The 3:2 aspect ratio makes it perfect for working with the keyboard and mouse attached. That said, the iPad Pro and Samsung’s equivalent Galaxy Tab tablets have more advanced displays that throw up brighter colours. Additionally, with just the 60Hz of refresh rate, it isn’t the most agile tablet display I have seen lately on a high-end tablet. I also found the auto-brightness to be erratic.

    Surface Pro X Performance

    When Apple says its iPad is meant for the Pros, we know it means business. On the Surface Pro X, that’s not the case. The Microsoft SQ1 System-On-Chip here is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform and is almost over two years old now. Its age shows while using the Surface Pro X as a laptop.

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    With the newest Windows 11 update, the Surface Pro X eliminates most of the compatibility issues reviewers faced back in 2019. I installed all the apps necessary for my workflow – Google Chrome and WhatsApp for Windows, and both of them worked great, although with a caveat. As long as you are doing basic stuff like web browsing, attending meetings, reading and writing documents, and watching videos, the Surface Pro X is a happy puppy. It eats up all that easily and performs as expected.

    It is when I subject it to my office workflow that the SQ1 chip starts struggling. Having 9-10 Chrome tabs running simultaneously, with two of them running my CMS system; the Surface Pro X lags like those old Windows 8 tablets. The loading times increase and every other app in the background becomes sluggish. I used the Pixlr online image editor to touch up a few 4K images and the tablet was begging for mercy. And, it cannot play those tablet games with the same ease an iPad Pro can.

    It is no wonder why Microsoft recommends the Surface Pro 8 with Intel processors for professionals and casual gaming enthusiasts (check their webpage). The Surface Pro X is more suited for light tasks that a regular tablet is intended for. Maybe Microsoft should offer the SQ2 processor as standard for consumers now.

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    That said, this is a always-on PC and that meant I never had to wait for my Windows tablet to boot up. Press the lock key and it wakes up instantly, waiting with Windows 11 all loaded up. It feels just like using an iPad; only that you now have access to your Windows apps and files instead of a limited iPadOS.

    Sadly, the iPadOS has well optimised apps; something which the Surface Pro X lacks. The Microsoft Store is yet to get Android apps and the current collection of apps are quite restrictive. That said, most of the popular apps can be downloaded from the web; Chrome is a good example.

    Surface Pro X WFH features

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    An area where this Windows 11 tablet shines. The stereo 2W speakers look inadequate on paper but are plenty loud in real life, and the audio quality is good. It is not “iPad Pro levels” of good but it is good enough to watch movies without seeking your headphones, or Bluetooth speaker. The mic reception for voice is impressive, and so is the 5MP front camera – beware if you sit in your virtual meetings with an oily face as this camera can pick that up.

    Surface Pro X Battery life

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    Microsoft claims a 15-hour battery life with the 39Wh capacity battery. With my office workflow involved, the Surface Pro X lasted me at most 9 hours on a stretch. Note that this is with auto brightness on, constant connection to Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth keyboard attached. It is decent but I expected it to last longer. Idle drain is almost non-existent, which is a surprise on a Windows machine. It takes close to an hour for a full charge via the supplied charger in the box.

    Verdict

    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Microsoft Surface Pro X (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    The Surface Pro X is not a tablet meant for professionals. As long as you keep this in mind, this is a stellar tablet to use. A desktop-grade operating system on an iPad-like tablet is exactly what the WFH doctor ordered. You can do your light office work at one moment and quickly undock it to catch up with the latest Netflix show when done. The battery life is good enough and so is the 3:2 display. And, with that blessing-in-disguise kickstand, I cannot recommend any other tablet that is as comfortable to use as the Surface Pro X.

    In fact, I can now finally say – Yes, you can replace your laptop with a tablet. And that tablet is not an iPad; it is a Windows 11-toting Surface Pro X – a tablet that you attach your mouse and keyboard to use just like your laptop.

    That said, if you are seeking a proper professional tablet that can do video and photo editing with ease, you have the iPad Pro M1. If you are seeking a reliable productivity tablet, the Surface Pro 8 is worth checking out.

    Rating
    3.5 out of 5
    Price
    INR 97,290/-
    Product Name
    Microsoft Surface Pro X
    Brand Name
    Microsoft
    Pros
    • Always-on practicality
    • Nice display
    • Good battery life
    Cons
    • Sluggish processor
    • Expensive
    Specifications
    • Processor
      Microsoft SQ1
    • Display
      13.3-inch FHD+ 3:2 display
    • RAM
      8GB/16GB
    • OS
      Windows 11
    • Ports
      2 x USB-C, 1 x Surface Connect
    • Battery
      39 Whr

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    First Published Date: 04 Feb, 08:54 AM IST
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