Still the best tablet laptop: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 9 review

Still the best tablet laptop: Microsoft's Surface Pro 9 review
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Microsoft's Surface Pro 9.
extend / Microsoft’s Surface Pro 9.

Andrew Cunningham

Let’s talk about it Surface Pro 9.

Which Surface Pro 9? The vanilla, plain-old Surface Pro 9 is a follow-up to Intel’s decade-old numbered Surface Pro models, not the 5G version, which comes with a Qualcomm-made Microsoft SQ3 Arm processor and the typical drawbacks of an Arm Windows device (relatively low performance, persistent app compatibility issues).

Aside from this name confusion, the regular Surface Pro 9 isn’t meant to surprise. This (mostly) improves performance while (mostly) preserving everything that worked about the previous models. It won’t win over anyone who doesn’t already love the Surface, but for anyone who loves a 3-5 year old Surface tablet, it should be a pretty safe upgrade.

See and feel

Keyboard cover.  It folds down to reveal a compartment for the Slim Pen 2.
extend / Keyboard cover. It folds down to reveal a compartment for the Slim Pen 2.

Andrew Cunningham

The basic design of the new Surface Pro is recognizably the same like eight years agoWhen Microsoft unveiled a fully adjustable kickstand and keyboard wrapped around the screen to increase stability and prevent the entire device from feeling floppy on a desk or lap (a lesson to some tablet makers they decided not to learn).

The design has steadily evolved since then, taking away USB-C ports (and dropping USB-A), narrowing the display bezels, making the screen itself bigger and getting faster and bigger. The biggest change came last year, when Microsoft redesigned the front of the tablet enough to break compatibility with older Surface Type covers, but increased the screen size from 12.3 to 13 inches. The Surface Pro 8 mirrors design changes Microsoft made to the Arm-based Surface Pro X a few years ago, and the two fit the same keyboard covers and other accessories.

Compared to these changes, the Surface Pro 9’s updates are as follows basically so small that most people don’t notice them. Buttons and ports have moved, however Microsoft Signature keyboard covers are the same, the screen is the same, and the front and rear cameras are the same. Pen support is the same (we have some notes on the Surface Slim Pen 2 inch Our Surface Pro 8 review). It’s lighter, but not by much (just 0.02 pounds). And the Surface Pro 9 comes in colors other than Graphite and Platinum, with a green “Forest” variant and a blue “Sapphire” finish (our review unit is Sapphire, and it looks great). The default Windows 11 floral wallpaper matches the color you choose, which is a nice touch.

Screen brightness.  The Surface Pro 9 is slightly brighter than its predecessor according to our colorimeter, though it's not really noticeable.
extend / Screen brightness. The Surface Pro 9 is slightly brighter than its predecessor according to our colorimeter, though it’s not really noticeable.

Andrew Cunningham

Someone else changes you can the notification is the headphone jack, when the headphone jacks die (it’s totally device compatible, but for some reason it doesn’t work anymore) it disappears where it goes. If I were to list every device that didn’t have a headphone jack in the last two or three years, we’d be here all day. Let’s just say that as the number of devices in my life without a headphone jack increased, so did the amount of time I spent cursing Bluetooth and related technologies.

My phone refuses to connect to my headphones every time because they are connected to a computer upstairs; every time I run out of battery in the middle of something; every time a bud falls from my ear to the floor or sidewalk, I question, do we really have it? improved things, or if we simply changed one set of problems to another, more expensive set of problems. I still occasionally use wired headphones and I can’t say I miss the wire dangling around and catching on everything. But they’re reliable and predictable, two adjectives that don’t belong in any conversation about Bluetooth audio unless you put an “un-” in front of them.

Anyway. Bluetooth audio on the Surface Pro 9 doesn’t seem any better or worse than it does on most devices I’ve used.

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