Microsoft has been making Windows tablets for almost a decade, but the company hasn’t always had smooth sailing.
The first-generation Surface device, which came out in 2012 and was simply called “Surface,” ran a stripped-down version of Windows called Windows RT and wasn’t very popular with consumers.
But it wasn’t long before the Surface Pro line made Microsoft the standard Windows 2-in-1 maker.
Even though companies like Dell, Lenovo, and Huawei have started to compete for more, this is still the case.
But after six years of small changes, Microsoft has finally made big changes to the Surface Pro 8.
There are smaller bezels, a larger 120Hz display, a longer-lasting battery, and an improved rear camera. That’s before the usual processor upgrade.
What About Build And Design?
The Surface Pro 8’s design strikes a balance between being instantly familiar and a real improvement.
It’s magnesium alloy construction looks and feels as high-end as ever, but you can only choose between Platinum (silver) or Graphite for colours (black).
A matte finish makes it easier to hold on to something without showing fingerprints.
It also means that the Pro 8 is comfortable to use without a case, though at 891g you’ll want to prop it up when using it for long periods.
So, the built-in kickstand helps. It goes all the way across the back of the device, so you can put it in any position from completely flat to just slightly off the table.
Compared to the Pro 7, there are no changes here, but a strong metal hinge makes it feel surprisingly solid.
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Microsoft still sells all Surface Pro 8 accessories separately, which is disappointing because most people need to buy the keyboard.
But the company is including its new Slim Pen 2 with its latest Signature Keyboard.
Even the stylus has a built-in place to stay and charge above the keyboard.
I like this better than a pen that attaches magnetically to the top of the device, especially since this new design keeps it out of the way when you just want to type.
But the Slim Pen 2 is very different from other Surface styluses. It has a flatter design that I found easier to use when writing, and it also has a physical button that can be used to get to certain tools quickly.
One-clockwise-click the Microsoft Whiteboard app, where you can also use the end of the pen like a digital eraser.
You can edit a screenshot by double-clicking on it, but you can also change both in Settings.
Screen & Speakers
The Surface Pro 7’s display wasn’t a problem, but Microsoft has made it a top priority to improve it.
As I mentioned earlier, the screen has grown from 12.3 to 13in, but it still has a 3:2 aspect ratio.
That means there’s a new resolution of 28801920, but this “PixelSense Flow” display is still LCD and not OLED.
But a 120Hz refresh rate is the killer feature here. Along with the Surface Laptop Studio, it’s the first Microsoft computer to have a refresh rate higher than 60Hz, although you’ll have to change it yourself in Settings.
It offers a smooth, responsive experience that might be even better here than on smartphones.
Microsoft said that when Windows 11 came out in 2021, it would have a feature called “Dynamic Refresh Rate” (DRR) that would let the Surface Pro 8 and some other devices automatically change the refresh rate depending on the situation.
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This should save battery life, but as of March 2022, when this article was written, it wasn’t available.
Specifications and Performance
Microsoft has improved the Surface Pro’s internals with every version, and this one is no different.
The Pro 8 is powered by Intel’s 11th-generation processors; the device came out before January 2022, when Intel announced its newest CPUs.
Here, you can choose between the Core i5-1135G7 and the Core i7-1185G7, but I can only comment on the latter.
With Iris Xe graphics and 16GB of RAM, this mid-range model performs as expectedly well.
The Pro 8 is great at all the most common ways to be productive, like browsing the web, checking email, making video calls, and doing more than one thing at once.
During the time I used the device, there were no stuttering, pauses, or app crashes, even when I had multiple programmes open at once.
But in these cases, the back of the device will feel warm to the touch.
The Surface Pro 8 came out around the same time as Windows 11, making it one of the first devices that came with Microsoft’s operating system installed.
It’s also one of the first to get new updates, but Surface devices don’t get special treatment over other Windows makers.
Since Windows 11’s release, Microsoft has fixed many of its problems, but it still looks and feels very different from Windows 10.
There’s also no tablet mode, so touch input still seems like an afterthought compared to using the cursor.
Battery Life and Recharging
As usual, Microsoft doesn’t give a specific battery size for the Pro 8, but SurfaceTip says it’s a 50.2Wh cell.
That’s supposedly a little less than the Surface Pro 7+, but a big jump from the Pro 7’s 43.2Wh battery.
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