Microsoft aims new Surface Pro 8 at hybrid work-home life
Microsoft rolled out is new Surface Pro tablet computer this fall, as millions of Americans continue to work in remote or hybrid arrangements. Further delays in companies' return-to-office dates have boosted demand for portable computing devices that can straddle an increasingly muddled work-life divide.
The new Surface Pro 8 is billed by the computing giant as its "most significant leap forward" since the tablet's third-gen version in 2014, with a new design that includes a sharper 13-inch screen, redesigned pen and upgraded video and audio for a better experience on video calls. In Microsoft's view, the tablet is "the ideal hybrid device" for "the ultimate work-from-home set-up."
Tech companies have been jumping into the fray to cater to employees who need flexibility in their devices,creating new laptops and tablets with faster processing power and improved video and audio quality to handle hours of video calls. About 1 in 10 workers are still fully remote, yet one study found another one-third of workers are juggling hybrid work arrangements as COVID-19 cases continue to be high, and as the new Omicron variant raises concerns.
That may explain why sales are on the rise for tablets, laptops and other devices equipped to handle everything from Zoom calls to work programs like Excel — as well as recreational activities like gaming or streaming video.
The new product is squarely aimed at workers who want a hybrid device that can span the computing demands of work and home life. It's also for people who use Office products regularly, such as students who want a tablet with the capabilities of a PC, as well as excellent gaming capabilities.
But it's not cheap: Microsoft's device starts at about $1,100 — about the same price as Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro. For the premium price, consumers should expect premium performance.
Meanwhile, budget-conscious buyers have the option of the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, which is featured in some Black Friday sales. Best Buy, for instance, is offering the device for $800, down from about $1,200.
Windows 11 and Surface Slim Pen 2
The new Surface Pro 8 comes with the new Windows 11 operating system, which promises better facial recognition technology, tighter integration with office software such as Teams and improved gaming features. It can also run Android apps.
Facial recognition technology means you don't need a password to unlock the Surface Pro: It scans your face to open automatically. The 13-inch screen features sharp graphics and colors, thanks to HDR imaging technology Dolby Vision and Adaptive Color Technology. The tablet also works with a Surface Slim Pen 2 that connects with the screen and allows you to draw, write or click on items on the screen.
The tablet's 2880 x 1920 pixel resolution really shines with gaming, as precision, depth and color can heighten the experience. More importantly, the Surface Pro 8 is fast – another essential for gaming. The device has a 120Hz display refresh rate, which means pixels are refreshed at a frequent rate, creating a super-sharp look.
So how about work? The device responds quickly with productivity apps and programs like Slack, Word and Excel. It's also easy to toggle between apps; the Surface Pro 8 had no problem handling several programs, multiple tabs and a video call at once.
Still, there were some glitches, such as when using the Netflix app, which flickered to a screen of static twice during a test trial. And while Microsoft says the device has up to 16 hours of battery power, at times the battery offered much less than that, especially after playing graphics-heavy games.
If there's a downside to the Surface Pro 8, it's that the Surface Slim Pen 2 and the keyboard cost extra — the bundled pair will set you back an extra $280. Given the total price, some people may question whether to opt for Apple's iPad Pro or simply a less expensive tablet.
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