The latest generation of Microsoft’s celebrated Surface pushes the boundaries of the possible once again. This time, it is into an Artificial Intelligence-powered world, making hybrid work faster, easier, and more convenient. This might sound like a groundbreaking development – and indeed it is – but it follows a long tradition kicked off by the devices since their launch a full decade ago.
That’s according to Acquire director Simon Scott, who notes that back in 2012, the Surface revolutionised mobile computing with two features. “These innovations actually had nothing to do with computing power as such but had everything to do with hybrid work as we know it today,” he recalls.
In those days, the change ushered in was ergonomic. Not only did the Surface introduce a new era of compactness – largely thanks to a unique take on the keyboard with the ‘Type Cover’– but the snap stand at the back took a tablet and turned it back into the far more wieldy, versatile, and (essential for all workers) comfortable laptop. While, at the same time, performing just as well as a tablet when so desired, and packing the full heft of an ‘x86’ processing architecture as introduced in 1989 and which persists in 2022 as 32-bit and 64-bit extensions. “That meant all of Windows, all of Microsoft Office, and all the applications you and your customers need to get through every day,” Scott says.
At this point, other manufacturers were focusing on complex and (relatively) bulky ‘convertible’ designs incorporating hinges and hard shells, while the Surface Type Cover uniquely went for a soft option.
The rest, as they say, was history, and at the same time, the future. The Touch Cover is still with us. And so is the kickstand, vindicating those at the launch of the first-generation Surface who gasped and applauded its introduction, which has now become one of those innovations so obvious and so useful we all wonder why it took so long.
From an illustrious past to a glorious future
Through 8 preceding generations, the Surface has consistently pleased reviewers and users alike, says Scott. “So where does the latest Surface family, led by the Surface Pro 9, take us now? The DNA of convenience and comfort runs through, along with the essential core principles which have appeared in every Surface generation: timeless design, versatile form factor, high performance, and best-in-class integration with Windows and Microsoft 365,” he enthuses.
The ‘top line’ specs are impressive, but, Scott points out, so are those of any just-released top-end laptop. As you would expect, the latest Intel processors feature, with a choice of 12th gen Core i5 or i7. There’s more storage on offer (up to 1TB), and more memory (up to 32GB on Intel devices), along with a raft of connectivity options and two of the coveted USB-C 3.2 ports with Thunderbolt 4. The screens are astonishing, as you would expect (the 13-inch touchscreen unit offers a 120 Hz refresh rate and PixelSense Display with a resolution of 2880 x 1920, for a 267 pixels per inch density).
“In other words, the Surface Pro 9 built on Intel is exactly what you would expect it to be. Right down to that famously tight integration with Windows 11 and the rest of the Microsoft stack, led of course by Office 365,” he confirms.
Instead, Scott says the big deal outside of the already-discussed form factor separating the Surface from anything else on the market (whether x86 or iOS or, well, anything else) might actually lie not in the Intel powered devices, but their close cousins, the Surface Pro 9 5G. “These continue breaking new ground first tilled by Microsoft in 2017, when it started working with mobile chip specialist Qualcomm to produce its own silicon with the SQ series of system-on-a-chip. The latest version is the SQ3, and that’s what powers the Surface Pro 9 5G.”
Along with connectivity to the most recent iteration of mobile networks, which offers ‘fibre-competitive’ peak speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second, the Surface Pro 9 5G incorporates an AI-powered Neural Processing Unit (NPU). “This offers a glimpse into the future, powering features such as instant mobile 5G access, and ‘next generation’ video calls with Automatic Framing keeping you centre-stage as you move, while Voice Focus suppresses background noise,” Scott explains.
Choose the best Surface for the job
There is a caveat, though, as Scott makes clear. “It must be stressed that for most users, the best Surface option isn’t necessarily the most advanced. The Windows/Intel combination is super-mature, going back to the early 80s, while the emergence of SOC architecture is far more recent and has its most prominent implementation in smartphones.”
(SOC incorporates multiple computing aspects, including processing, graphics, digital and image signal processing, modem, and networking).
So, while the Surface Pro 9 5G breaks new ground, Scott stresses that it is a device on cutting edge. “That makes it suitable for specific use cases. For most Surface users, the ‘regular’ and thoroughly amazing Surface Pro 9 is likely to be the best bet – reliable, versatile, super-portable, comfortable, and capable,” is his advice.
There is a lot more to the new Surface range, too. If ultra-portability isn’t absolutely top of mind, the Surface Laptop 5 is available in 13.5- and 15-inch screen sizes, with some of the best looks of any laptop anywhere. And the versatile Surface Studio 2+ all-in-one computer offers sleek looks and bigger-screen capability, with the Microsoft Hub 2S delivering an innovative hub for teamwork.
The bottom line? “Whatever your requirements, there’s a Surface in the new range ideal for you. Get in touch with Acquire today,” Scott concludes.