One Cool Thing: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7+ for Business

PCMag’s Matt Buzzi and John Burek talk about Microsoft’s ”Tiger Lake” update to its flagship 2-in-1 Windows tablet, which adds some serviceability and security features for corporate and education buyers.

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– Hello, welcome to ”One Cool Thing,” Here at virtual PC Labs. I’m John Burek. This is Matt Buzzi, my colleague. We’re here to show you some cool Tech from around PC Labs, and Matt, What do you have for us today? I understand it is a Surface. – It is. The Microsoft Surface
Pro 7 Plus for Business. It looks much like the
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Which came out in 2019, Hasn’t seen an update
since that is actually Still the most recent model
of the Microsoft Surface Pro, And this is updated with A couple of component differences And a couple of professional
focused features. – So the Surface Pro 7, The version that this is based on Came out in 2019 and is a
detachable Windows tablet. There really hasn’t been a major release Of the Surface Pro 7 at
that size since then. There’s been the Surface
Go, the smaller version. There’ve been Surface laptops
and Surface books that Have been updated, so, what’s the big Update that happened here? You said components. Uh, it seems to be Tiger Lake?
– Yes, we have made the jump From 10th gen to 11th gen Tiger Lake, So it adds a little pep to the step. It’s not, as we’ve seen pretty much Across any laptop line that has jumped From one to the other,
not a huge difference, Not a giant leap in performance But a nice incremental boost
for something that we like

As a product that came out
now a couple of years ago Since they haven’t released
a new Surface Pro 8 Or a new edition of it, Doing this to kind of refresh the Components while they
maybe work on what might Be a bigger redesign, might
not be a bigger redesign, While they work on that. Just adding newer components
to increase the performance A little bit, make it
a little more relevant To tasks that you might need to do in 2021 So that we don’t have to say ”yeah, This thing’s two years
old now. It’s still good. The design is good. We like it, but the components are old.” Now you can get the 11th
gen Tiger Lake CPUs in it And we can talk more about
the business features But that performance increase
is definitely a big part Of the draw here because the product Was getting a little
bit long in the tooth. 2019 wasn’t that long ago, But when you talk about
buying a new computer, I don’t know if you necessarily want to Go for one that’s two years old. – Right? Understood. Yeah. I mean, looking at it
briefly, then, maybe you can Hold up the screen so
we can take a peek at it But they haven’t redesigned
any major portion of it, And looking at the bezels around the Around the actual panel,
it looks, you know, A couple of years on
things are starting to Get to the point where You have almost no bezels around the Panels of some of the flagship laptops. That one still has some, some pretty

Meaty borders around it. – Yeah. So that was a complaint we had. And, you know, an aesthetic
and relatively minor complaint, But a complaint we had
with the original Pro 7, That the bezels were pretty thick. As you said, a lot of the ultra-portables And competing tablets these
days have almost no bezel Which allows you both
to get a bigger screen In the same size chassis,
but it also looks nicer. It looks a little more modern. These big thick bezels look kind of Like old monitors, old laptops. It just kind of brings to mind those kind Of dated systems that look
like they’re from more Than two years ago, Especially when it’s in tablet mode. You know, there’s so much screen wasted On these big black borders. So the Surface Pro X
launched alongside the The Surface Pro 7 originally, And that kind of showed us a glimpse Of what the product could
look like in the future. It’s thinner, the bezels are slimmer But it has its own drawbacks as a result. It’s a whole different,
different kettle of fish But that’s the design, the
visual that we would look… Like it to look like if
it could in the future. Right now, they kept the same design, The thick bezels. It’s fine. It works. But you could get a bigger
screen and maybe a little bit Of a slimmer system if you
got rid of those bezels. – Right? Yeah. Because
with the Pro X, you know You’ve got a Qualcomm chip in there As opposed to Intel. You’re
running on lower power,

You’re running on a
whole different platform. So, you know, you’ve got a sort Of different set of thermal sort Of parameters you’re working
with in the design of it. And to be honest, I
mean, you could tell me Since you’ve used the device,
you know, more than I have But actually having a
place to put your thumbs In tablet mode, I guess On the bezels is not
necessarily a bad thing, right? I mean, because you
need a place to swipe in From you need, you know,
a place that could grip Without activating something in Windows. – Yeah. It’s, it’s fine
once you to detach it. And exactly, as you said,
exactly, you can hold it By the edges so that you’re not, You’re not gripping the screen itself. It works better. I think in tablet mode
you can get away with it. In laptop mode, you might notice it more Because it’s sitting,
you’re just staring at it. But yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s still fine. And it also does allow, as
you were saying, it allows the The touch pad, the, the
keyboard, sorry, to, To snap to the bottom here for security. So, rather than covering the screen You’re only covering the bezel. So, I guess that’s not the Worst thing in the world. – Right. And the way it snaps up like that That sort of inclines
the keyboard portion for Typing, as I recall from using…the Last time I used one of these. – It makes it a little more comfortable. Yeah. All that stuff is still good.

It’s as useful on the
lap as it was previously, Which is to say
serviceable, but not ideal. I think in a lot of
cases, you’d like prefer a A laptop that has a
hard, wider stance so you Don’t have to keep your
legs close together And the keyboard doesn’t
flop around, but using it On your lap isn’t really
the ideal use case for me. I think a coffee table or
actual desk, or, you know Anywhere you’re making a pit stop That has an actual surface to use Probably a little bit
preferable to your lap. But it’s functional enough in your lap. – Got it. So in terms of…so
it’s technically called The Microsoft Surface
Pro 7 Plus for Business. So the ”for Business”
portion there obviously Is the big difference maker here. So we’ve got a new CPU, the GPU, you know Part of the CPU, there is the Iris Xe Which I believe is new
with this generation. And what else are we
seeing that has changed? I believe We discussed this a little bit beforehand And you’d mentioned there’s a LTE option For the machine and also encrypted SSD. – Yes, so there’s a, there’s a LTE option Which is not the first time
we’ve seen on our Surface. There actually was the
Surface Pro with LTE Advanced Was an addition of this
they put out in the past. Now, the Surface Pro 7 has this business Focused model that you
can put a SIM card in. You can get a plan. Extra good if your
employer will pay for it, If it’s for work, pay for your coverage. If you’re away from
the WiFi that obviously

Makes this much more useful
on the go, on a train, Whatever it is that you’re Using once you start traveling more again. That can have this actually be a Functional work computer on the go. So that’s a pretty cool addition, again, Not the first time we’ve
seen it, but you know It’s always a welcome option
for the people who need it. The SSD, as you mentioned,
is actually removable Which is kind of a big deal On a product like this. That doesn’t happen very often. Even some laptops make it
a little difficult to do. So having the option
to upgrade or maintain Or swap, whatever it is, is
useful for business users. Not that they might want
to do it themselves, But it lets IT departments kind of make Maintain their fleet if they use A lot of these devices
for their employees. And if something goes wrong with the drive They don’t have to buy
an entire new device. – Got it. So you can just reach it Via a hatch or something of that sort On the back of the
machine or how does the..? – So, it’s actually
right under the kickstand Which is also where the SIM card slot is. So this door right here. – Ah, yeah. So pretty,
pretty straightforward. I should mention that it’s not It’s not the normal m.2 SSD. It’s the m.2 2230. So you’re not looking at the stick Of gum shaped SSD that
you might know from PCs, If any of you are DIY desktop people.

It’s not one of those.
It’s a sort of modular Square-shaped SSE that
slots right into the back. – Yeah. – You’re probably not going to
find those in mass on Amazon Or at your local electronics
store quite as much As you would a normal
SSD. They are out there, Might be a little bit more
friendly for IT departments To shop for than individual users. – Got it. Yeah. The, you know, We were discussing this before, And I guess there’s
different lengths of m.2 SSD And the typical one that
you see, the gum stick, Or the 80 millimeter, but
this is a 30 millimeter. And looking around, there
isn’t nearly the range Of capacities available for the 30 millimeter m.2 SSDs it seems. So this is, like you said,
probably more of a, you know A fleet maintenance
slash you know, sort of En masse upgrade type of
solution, as opposed to, ”hey I want to stick a four
terabyte SSD in this thing.” You know, you won’t find that M.2 module size because
of the lack of space and, You know, the ability to
put more chips on it, so. But it looks like you
could do it yourself, Though, if it came down to it. – Yeah. So that’s still better than No SSD change option, I would say. – Yeah, no, we had it. We had an instance, I know, of someone on our team had a A Surface Book which
had a SSD failure and, You know, the way that
thing was constructed was, You know, there was no way
to get inside the case, And, you know, sort of doing a
data recovery tear apart type Of thing would have been
a four figure operation.

So actually being able to
access the SSD is a big deal You know, from a…you know, if you’re Deploying hundreds of these things. – So that’s a big, that’s
a…you know, a big change. And also I have in my notes
here that there’s TPM support? – Yes. – So, this has got the
whole sort of, you know, Business security and
manageability aspect, you know, Sort of baked into it. – Yeah. I would say it does the name… The ”for Business” part of the name Is not just lip service.
I think those are… Between the LTE, the SSD, TPM. That’s pretty useful for
actual business users. – Fair enough. In terms of the performance that You’ve seen on it so far, You mentioned, when we
were talking before, That it has 16 gigs of RAM
which seems to me like, You know, pretty meaty for a standalone Two-in-one detachable tablet. How did you find it performed
versus the 10th gen? – Yes. So there’s a number
of configuration options. You can get with an I-5, I-7, Eight gigs of RAM, 16 gigs of RAM, And also various SSD sizes. The 16 gig version,
between the new processor And the increased… ’cause the Service Pro 7 we reviewed Only had eight gigs of RAM… So it definitely lagged behind Its competitors at the time. Bumping up the processor and Doubling the RAM in this unit
actually has it performing

Not quite in line, but much,
much closer to 13 inch laptops Just, not tablets, full-on
convertible two-in-ones Like the Dell XPS 13, the HP Spectre x360. Those are some top of the line sort of Premium two-in-ones, and this really Wasn’t too far behind the pack. The multimedia test even was pretty close. It actually had the highest in
the bench score of the bunch Which I found a little bit
surprising, but I mean, It has the parts, it has the RAM. It can hang in there for the Everyday sort of multitasking. You’ve got a bunch of tabs open, You have a bunch of applications open, Different group chats and things, It’s not, it’s not
laggy. I mean, this is… It’s close to a full-on laptop. That’s sort of always been
the appeal of the Surface. It’s more like a tablet that… A tablet that can also… A laptop that could
also be a tablet kind of More than it is the other way around, So long as you get the keyboard, Which is still sold separately, Because otherwise it’s
definitely just a tablet. – Yeah, after I was going to ask, Is it still the same policy as ever where The type cover is an additional purchase, You know of…yeah. – Yeah, and an expensive one. It’s not cheap, so that’s unfortunate But I guess that would probably be baked Into the cost if it was included anyway. – Right. That’s true.

So, very cool. So this is the Surface Pro 7. Excuse me, the Surface
Pro 7 Plus for Business. The SKU that we looked at
was, I guess, towards the Top end of the range, since it was I-7, 16 gigs, and I don’t
know what the SSD capacity Was, but I’m assuming it was… – Ours was I-5. – Oh, it was I-5? Okay. My mistake. So I-5, m.2 SSD at, I’m not sure which capacity,
and Iris xE graphics. – Yeah. Ours was $1,500 as tested for that Which is getting a little expensive. I think that’s about a $100 or $150 More than the unit we tested of the Original Surface Pro 7. So the additional RAM, and I think More likely a bunch of
those business features Actually increased that
cost a fair amount. So it’s getting into a little bit Of a mid range price
point to the point where You might consider
getting a laptop instead, Because at a certain point you’re Probably going for this
’cause it’s a little Cheaper than a full-fledged laptop. So you start to get away
from that a little bit In the mid thousand price
range there, I don’t know. I don’t know how different
people feel about that. Some might be doing it for
the form factor specifically, So the price isn’t as much of a factor. But some people might view it as ”I’m making a compromise
on price and a little bit On performance to get
that cool form factor.” So it’s up to your preferences, I suppose,

But the performance isn’t as
diminished as you might think. So that’s… – Right. – That’s the advantage of this model. – That’s the whole thing with
any Windows tablet is all the All the hardware and the thermal is lost, That had happen behind the screen. You don’t have sort of
the ability to offload Like the battery and other components Underneath the keyboard. So you sort of have to work
with half a laptop, so to speak, In terms of designing the internals. So yeah, I mean, it’s an
interesting trade-off, right? Because you have to really want
the two-in-one aspect of it Because with the same money
you could get a, you know, A mid range Think Pad,
you know, with a, I mean, Everybody’s opinions on
keyboards are different But generally speaking, you know, you’re Going to have more travel and
more clickiness on a, say, A Think Pad keyboard, you know In the mid $1,500 to $2,000 range Than you will on a type cover which, You know, as good as it may be, You know, is still, you know, a A thin strip, you know,
that you’re typing on. – Yeah. It’s probably
the best one of these But that’s still, that’s still better. That’s still worse than
most laptop keyboards At the end of the day. – Right? Yeah. I know Lenovo had one. They had that an X1 Tablet keyboard, which actually
was, you know, you know, A tear off keyboard,
which was, Think Pad… – The Think Pad keyboard.

– But they stopped making that. Although, now that I
think about it, I mean There haven’t been very many
business competitors for A two-in-one tablet apart from, I guess, Lenovo rolled out at CES That Think Pad detachable X12. – Yeah.
– I may be getting too… – We did like that. That looks Like the closest competitor to come Out in the last year or so, So we’ll see when we run the full Review of that how it stacks up to this. – Yeah, totally. We got our hands on, I think, one of them But we didn’t get to actually test it. It was a pre-production model. So, great. So, wrapping up, the Surface
Pro 7 Plus for Business. Matt’s putting it through its benchmarks And we’ll have a full deep
review up on PCMag as well, You know, soon, with all
the numbers and our score. And thank you for watching. Matt, thank you for your
time with the Surface And we will see you next
time on ”One Cool Thing.” Take care folks!

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