Let’s talk about the Surface Pro 9.
Which Surface Pro 9? Not the version with 5G, which comes with a Microsoft SQ3 Arm processor made by Qualcomm and the typical flaws of a Windows Arm device (relatively low performance, lingering app compatibility issues) – but the vanilla, old Surface Pro 9 , the Intel-based over a decade of numbered Surface Pro models.
That name confusion aside, the standard Surface Pro 9 isn’t designed to surprise. It (mostly) improves performance while (mostly) keeping everything that worked on previous models intact. It won’t convince anyone who didn’t already love the Surface, but for anyone who loves their 3-5 year old Surface tablet, this should be a pretty safe upgrade.
Look and feel
The basic design of the new Surface Pro is visibly the same as it was eight years ago, when Microsoft discovered the fully adjustable kickstand and keyboard that folds up against the screen to increase stability and prevent the whole device to feel floppy on a table or lap (a lesson that some tablet makers decided not to learn).
The design has evolved steadily since then, taking over USB-C ports (and removing USB-A), shrinking display bezels, enlarging the screen itself, and getting progressively faster and bigger. The biggest change came last year, when Microsoft redesigned the front of the tablet enough to break compatibility with older Surface-like covers, but increased the screen size from 12.3 to 13 inches. . The Surface Pro 8 mirrors design changes that Microsoft made for the Arm-based Surface Pro X a few years earlier, and both are compatible with the same keyboard covers and other accessories.
Compared to these changes, Surface Pro 9 updates are most small enough that most people don’t notice them. The buttons and ports have moved, but the Microsoft Signature keyboard covers are the same, the screen is the same, and the front and rear cameras are the same. Stylus support is the same (we have some notes on the Surface Slim Pen 2 in our Surface Pro 8 review). It’s lighter, but not by as much as you’ll notice (only 0.02 pounds). And the Surface Pro 9 is available in colors other than Graphite and Platinum, with a “Forest” green option and a “Sapphire” blue finish (our review unit is Sapphire and looks great). Windows 11’s default floral wallpaper matches whatever finish you choose, which is nice.
Another changes you strength the notice is the headphone jack, which is gone wherever headphone jacks (which would totally fit on a device but no longer do for some reason) go when they die. If I had to list all the devices from the last two or three years released without a headphone jack, we’d be here all day. I’ll just say that as the number of devices without a headphone jack in my life has increased, so has the amount of time I’ve spent cursing Bluetooth and related technologies.
Every time my phone refuses to connect to my headphones because they connected to a computer upstairs instead; every time I run out of batteries in the middle of something; every time a bud falls out of my ear and onto the ground or the pavement, I wonder if we really improved things or if we just traded one problem set for another more expensive problem set. I still use wired headphones sometimes, and I can’t say I miss having a wire dangling and snagging on everything. But they’re reliable and predictable, two adjectives that don’t belong in any conversation about Bluetooth audio unless you put a “no-” in front of them.
In any event. Bluetooth audio in the Surface Pro 9 doesn’t sound any better or worse than most devices I use.
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