Surface Pro 7 Review: Adapting To Your Life

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The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 packs the power of a laptop in the form of a tablet. It’s compact, has great battery life and solid performance; a winning combination for a device that can adapt to many lifestyles. Here’s a look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 7.

Surface Pro 7 Design

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 with Surface Pen, Type Cover and Mouse accessories

If I had to sum up the Surface Pro 7’s design in one word, it would be: low-key.

Back of Microsoft Surface Pro 7

On the outside, there isn’t much to see beyond its magnesium unibody and Microsoft logo. Inconspicuous cooling vents line the edges and the lower half of the back doubles as a kickstand. There’s also a front and back camera, dual mics, and 1.6w stereo speakers with Dolby Audio for calls and meetings.

SD Card slot on Microsoft Surface Pro 7

While bezels are getting thinner on today’s gadgets, the Surface Pro 7 is stuck in the past. It makes me cringe see its beautiful, bright and vibrant 12.3-inch 4K touchscreen wrapped in a thick black bezel. It truly deserved better. Instead, bezels steal the show (or at least share the spotlight).

The Surface Pro 7 is a little skimpy on ports. There are USB Type-A and Type-C ports, a headphone jack, Surface Connect port, Surface type cover connectors and microSD card slot tucked behind the kickstand. Though it would’ve been nice to have 1-2 more USB ports, accessories like the HP Thunderbolt G2 dock or Microsoft’s Surface Connect fill in the gaps.

Type Cover & Surface Pen

Surface Pro 7 With Type Cover

The detachable Surface Type Cover transforms the Surface Pro 7 from a tablet into a laptop. It costs $100, though it really should be included with the Surface Pro 7. In short, having one makes the Surface Pro much easier to use.

The keys are slightly stiff and obnoxiously loud when pressed. The mousepad feels smooth, but its buttons are louder than the keyboard when pressed. The textured material surrounding the mousepad is comfortable to wrest your wrists on. Overall, the TypeCover is nice to use, if a little noisy.

On rare occasions the mouse on the TypeCover stopped registering on the screen, though the keyboard continued to work. Turning the screen on and off again or fiddling with the mousepad for a few seconds usually fixed this.

Surface Pro 7 With Surface Pen

The Surface Pen is self-explanatory and very impressively precise. I’ll take any excuse to use the Surface Pen, but I mostly use it to sign documents. Unfortunately, it’s just as expensive the TypeCover. If you don’t write, draw, or sign tons of documents, it’s safe to pass on the Pen.

Performance

The Surface Pro 7 runs Windows 10 Home and has built-in face recognition for unlocking the device. For this review, my unit has an Intel Core i7 processor, Intel Iris Plus Graphics card, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB hard-drive.

With this configuration, the Surface Pro 7 is responsive and snappy. Powering on and off only takes a few seconds. I rarely noticed any slow downs after leaving 20+ tabs open running, including YouTube videos and live Zoom meetings along with a 3-4 more apps running in the background. The graphics card is an entry level chip that’s great for light photo and video editing. However, it can strain under the demands of more graphic intensive programs.

Creator’s Test

As a content creator, the software and tools that I use can be taxing and demanding on the devices I use. I did a few of the tasks typical of content creators to see how well the Surface Pro 7 could handle them. Here’s how it performed:

25+ Tabs Open

Didn’t break a sweat. The fans kicked in, but were quiet. These tabs included an active YouTube video, active Zoom meeting and multiple social media sites.


4K Video Editing & Transcoding

In Adobe Premier, I imported 4K drone footage from a DJI Mavic 2 Pro quickly. However, smooth playback while editing required using a 1080p proxy video. After one hour, there was a minor lag while editing.


Photoshop & Lightroom Photo Editing**

Surprisingly, the Surface Pro 7 kept up nicely while editing RAW photo edits with little to no lag for 2 hours across Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

All of this activity quickly generates a lot of heat. The fans constantly run and the upper back gets uncomfortably hot to touch when the screen brightness is set to 100%. No matter how hard they blow, these fans are not enough to keep the Surface Pro 7 cool when the screen brightness is cranked up.

Surface Pro 7 Battery Life

The Surface Pro 7’s battery lasted just shy of 7 hours with a 1080p video on loop at max brightness and 50% volume. Moreover, it took around 3 hours and 15 minutes to hit 50% battery life. These numbers are impressive, though not the 10.5 hours of battery life quoted by Microsoft.

The battery takes around an hour and a half to fully charge, which is as long as some smartphones. A fast charging option gets the battery to 80% in 30 minutes, but you’ll need the right charger for this. Without it, results are closer to 20% battery life in the same time.

Should You Buy The Surface Pro 7?

The Surface Pro 7 is a great choice for those looking for a portable and powerful computer reasonably priced at $749. It’s also the best alternative to the iPad if you’re looking to break out of Apple’s ecosystem.

The compact form factor and accessory ecosystem make the Surface pro 7 convenient to travel with. It also comes with the full Windows 10 experience and a beautiful 4K screen. However, keep in mind the accessories quickly drive the price tag up to nearly $1000. For instance, the Type Cover and Surface Pen each cost $100.

Occasionally, you can find a deal bundling the Surface Pro 7 with one or both of these accessories. However, if you have to choose, take the TypeCover and leave the pen. It feels limiting to use Surface Pro 7 without a keyboard and mouse.

*Image Credits: Microsoft.com

Thank you to Microsoft for generously gifting the Surface Pro 7 used in this review. All opinions are my own and do not include any influence from Microsoft.

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Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on SheGeeks.net.