Wednesday, 8 March 2017

What I Want From The Microsoft Surface Pro 5


The big talk in the tablet market at the moment is of what Apple is going to do next with the iPad. A handful of new tablets maybe in three different sizes? Really, that isn't hugely important. Right now Apple is very likely to deliver a slightly improved version of what went before. A product which has been on a downward spiral for years.

There is a ground breaking iPad coming. Just probably not this year.

I'm much more interested in what Microsoft has planned for the next refresh of its Surface. The Surface Pro 4 is currently the two-in-one against which all others are measured. It was a minor upgrade of the Surface Pro 3 itself, gaining a little more screen and Hello capable camera.

So my expectation is that Microsoft will have a bigger update to show off when its replacement arrives.

Other than the nailed on processor and memory upgrades, I'll be looking for Microsoft to upgrade some of the key components of the Surface Pro. The Surface power connector / docking connector should give way to a USB-C power delivery and communications port. The existing Type-A port should be retained for backwards compatibility, however the mini-Display Port could usefully by replaced by a second USB-C, especially if it is capable of driving multiple displays.

The key thing here is that the Surface Pro should use the same power connector as a mobile phone. The micro-USB port on my Surface 3 lightened my carry bag significantly by allowing me to carry a single charger and cable for all of my devices. The SP5 should pursue the same benefits for a 2017 audience.

I'd be happy for the Surface Pro to grow a little to boost the screen size slightly. Especially if that means battery life can be boosted. Retaining the kickstand in its current iteration should be a no brainer, it remains far and away the most flexible and capable way of supporting a tablet.

I'd like to see the entry-level model retain its fanless CPU design. The silent running Intel m3 has enough grunt for anything up to serious game playing, but perhaps adding an m5 powered version might help bridge the huge gap in performance and price which exists as you move up the range to the Core i5 powered model.

Biometric authentication using the facial scanner is all well and good, but I think it needs to be backed up with an on device fingerprint scanner. Currently this is only available on some versions of the Type Cover.

I'd like to see Microsoft do more work with third-party accessory providers to develop lines of accessories. Being able to accessorise the iPad remains a big selling point - you only have to look at the number of OEMs fighting in a cutthroat battle to win those accessory sales.

My final hope is that the new Type Cover, when it arrives, sports a wider range of finishes. Personally I'd love a brown leather facing on my next Surface.

It seems like a big list of asks, but at a time when Microsoft keeps hitting home runs, it seems like the right time to be asking for the next big launch to be the best of all.

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