Thursday, September 24, 2020

Microsoft's Surface Pro X Review - After 10 Months Use

I've had the surface pro x for about 10 months now ,so how is it with the exception of the surface laptop I have all of the surface devices and this is the one that I'm drawn to most. The form factor is brilliant, it's about the same weight as a surface pro 7 but it feels much nicer in the hand mostly because it's just that little bit thinner. The new keyboard design with its integrated pen slot has meant that the pen is always there, i haven't lost it yet and because the pen charges in the keyboard I've never had to change the battery.

Well actually I wouldn't have had to change the battery on a surface pro 7 pin yet either for that matter it would probably be another three or four months before the battery would run out of one of those but the lack of that 4a battery means that the design of the pro x pen is quite different it feels like a builder's pencil it's really interesting. It's got a good feel in the hand and great to draw with. Now I still personally prefer the pen tips and the general ergonomics of the surface pro 7 pen but this one's pretty cool too and when you fold the keyboard back into the tablet mode the pen actually just presents itself perfectly. So it's easy to grab and start creating.

It's a really clever bit of design so after 10 months i still love the design of the pro x but what about the performance well for the vast majority of things that I've done on the pro x it has never felt anything but snappy for email web browsing especially with the new microsoft edge office documents teams and zoom meetings whatsapp messaging taking notes and watching videos it's been perfect in fact something that i have noticed is that thanks to the arm processor that's in the pro x it performs exceptionally well for video conferencing now i haven't scientifically tested it yet but i often project a zoom meeting up onto my tv using miracast and it seems to last a lot longer than the pro 7 does doing the same task probably around double the runtime and that i think is likely because of the fact that that arm processor uses less power and therefore generates less heat than intel processors do for the same task having an arm processor on board instead of that intel one has not been without its limitations though.

Now not every problem that i mentioned will go away for example even with this announcement I still won't be able to run the dropbox desktop sync client that is unless dropbox actually releases a version that's natively compiled for windows 10 on arm so in some ways we'll still be waiting for some developer support on some things but it is really good news for things like adobe photoshop lightroom and ultimaker cura that i mentioned now the next day there was a new announcement a new model of the surface pro x with a slightly improved processor i'll be sticking with my current version though even though i might upgrade the keyboard to the poppy red one so that it matches all of my other surface but it's really good and exciting to see those announcements and ongoing commitments from surface and microsoft encounters with the limitations have been pretty rare as we mentioned in our early videos on the pro x because the surface pro x runs windows 10 on arm it does have some limits it can run most apps that were written for intel processors amazingly well but it can only run apps that were designed and compiled for 32-bit not 64-bit many apps that require high-end performance are not available in 32-bit and most developers have not yet jumped on board making apps specifically for the arm processor so you can get stuck easily without an option.

Now I ran into this limitation during lockdown when i started 3d printing again the slicer that i wanted to use ultimaker cura is only available in intel 64-bit so although i can happily design 3d objects on the pro x using tinkercad i couldn't prepare them for printing but there's probably some way around that the arm processor continues to be a problem with adobe apps too they have not released any of their key apps for windows 10 on arm yet acrobat pro is available and photoshop is there too but it's an old version from 2018 and that's in intel 32-bit it's not great and lightroom crickets even fresco that adobe showed off and promised us at the pro x announcement last year we are really excited to see the fresco launch on the surface very soon well there's still no word on that now personally i want lightroom on this device but for the moment i'm gonna have to do without the last complaint that i have here is with one password it's the only app that i found to be really compromised in terms of performance on the pro x although it works it's painfully slow at times now I've never really considered gaming on the pro x.

So i haven't really tried but i have had to print and setting up a printer worked just fine what was brilliant for the first few months of using the pro x was the inbuilt 4g lte the pro x has a physical sim card slot and an e sim so it's easy to stay connected while you're on the move that said for the last four months well i haven't really had a chance to use it since we haven't been able to travel at all lastly i found that the pro x has been rock solid reliable the instant on and windows hello work perfectly together to get me up and running real fast so would i recommend the surface pro x well yes but carefully if you really know what software you use and you're okay without programs like adobe lightroom and ultimaker cura then okay and if you're doing a lot of web browsing note taking video conferencing teams or zoom or video watching then why not it's a great device it's especially great as a companion device but for now the intel based surface pro 7 still has the compatibility and versatility edge and that's why i took the pro 7 with me to japan in february i think it's possible the pro products was really designed to prove a point that windows 10 on arm can work and to announce to a wider audience that it's possible and despite what the tech bloggers would say i think that they've proven that point things are only looking up for arm-based processors so hopefully microsoft keep pushing windows 10 on arm with devices like this so that we can all take advantage of the choice and competition that they will offer in the future especially in the mobile device space.