Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) Review: Still Setting The Bar For 2-In-1s

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Microsoft Surface Pro (2017): User Experience And Cameras

Living up to its name, every Surface Pro comes with the Pro version of Windows 10, in 64-bit form of course. Outside of that, it does not feature other enterprise bits, such as Intel's vPro technology or hardware dTPM (Discrete Trusted Platform Module). In that regard, the Surface Pro wedges itself in between the professional and enterprise categories.

Microsoft Surface Pro Desktop

The Surface Pro boots to a clean desktop with only the Recycle Bin on the screen. We long for the days when the My Computer icon would show up by default, but with a clean build of Windows 10, it is up to you to go hunting for it (Settings > Themes, then scroll down to 'Desktop icon settings' under the Related Settings heading).

Also note that while the Surface Pen will work with the Surface Pro out of the box, for full functionality, you will need to pair it via Bluetooth. You can do this by navigating to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth and making sure that Bluetooth is enabled, then pair it like any other Bluetooth device.

Microsoft Surface Pro Windows Hello

One of the neat things about the Surface Pro is it supports Windows Hello, Microsoft's cutesy name for its facial recognition technology. This allows you to bypass typing in a password or PIN, except for when it has trouble recognizing your mug. For the most part, this biometric security scheme worked well on the Surface Pro, at least when using it inside. When outside in direct sunlight, Windows Hello had trouble identifying us.

Before you can use Windows Hello, you have to set it up. Microsoft will urge you to do so, otherwise you can do it manually at any time by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options and selecting Windows Hello. Choose the infrared IR camera option and follow the prompts.

Cameras

For taking photos and video conferencing, there are two cameras on the Surface Pro—a 5-megapixl front-facing camera and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera. Here are a couple of shots from the front sensor:

Microsoft Surface Pro Front Camera
Inside Selfie

Microsoft Surface Pro Front Camera Outside
Outside Selfie

Clearly Microsoft is not prioritizing camera performance here. Sure, the front camera is serviceable, but do not expect flattering results. The inside selfie displays washed out colors and trouble with shadows, though at least the image is clear. When switching to outside lighting, the image looks markedly better, but still not on par with better cameras, such as the one found on Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen). Photos from the Surface Pro are not as crisp or vibrant.

Let's have a look at how the rear camera performs:

Microsoft Surface Pro Rear Camera Inside Microsoft Surface Pro Rear Camera Inside

Microsoft Surface Pro Rear Camera Outside Microsoft Surface Pro Rear Camera Outside
Microsoft Surface Pro rear camera samples

The rear camera takes better photos than the front shooter, though it still leaves much to be desired, at least if you intend on using the Surface Pro for photography (and we suspect most people will not). As always, lighting is key. Shown above are examples of both indoor and outdoor lighting, all of which lack deep and rich color reproduction.

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