A Fantastic 2-In-1 Laptop Is The Surface Pro 9

Depending on the model, the Surface Pro 9 can be either a powerful laptop/tablet hybrid suited for the home or office, or a long-lasting 5G device that can be used to complete tasks almost everywhere. The latter version’s always-on connectivity and exceptional battery life come at a price, I discovered after testing it for the better part of a week.

Whichever Surface Pro 9 model you choose, you’ll get an improved version of our favorite 2-in-1 laptop with a terrific display, adaptable construction, and an excellent keyboard and stylus experience for those willing to spend more on peripherals. But, not all variations of this adaptable notepad are created equal, and if you pick the wrong one, you could end up being very disappointed.

An established pattern that now includes colors

The Surface Pro 9 maintains the dependable style that made the model from a year ago our favorite 2-in-1 notebook. The tablet is available in a few vibrant colors for the first time, with an aluminum shell that feels solid yet lightweight, and a flexible kickstand that transforms the device from a laptop to a nearly flat sketching surface in a matter of seconds. I’ll admit that I was disappointed that my review device was silver because pictures of the upcoming Sapphire and Forest options were very stunning (the Graphite option is also back, if you prefer something darker). I’m glad to see that the Surface Pro 9 offers a few colors with more contrast considering that the new iPad Pro models are still only available in silver-colored hues. And I absolutely love the color blue.

I particularly appreciate that the new Surface colors are complimented by an assortment of optional Signature Keyboards that coordinate with them ($180 alone; $280 with a Slim Pen 2), allowing you to mix and match or design a tidy, coordinated appearance. The majority of the previous Surface Pro keyboards will also still function if you’re updating.
Microsoft’s detachable keyboard still feels wonderful as ever, with bouncy keys and a soft-touch Alcantara coating that kept my wrists comfortable throughout extended periods of typing. It joins to the Surface with a simple, pleasant magnetic snap. I particularly like that the keyboard has a tiny space at the top where the Surface Thin Pen 2 can go. Not only does this charge the stylus and keep it neatly out of sight when you don’t need it, but it’s also a more secure method than magnetically hanging the pen on the side, like on the iPad Pro.

Excellent display and pen performance

The Surface Pro 9’s display is just as good as the one from the previous year’s model. I enjoy the way my mouse pointer easily glides around the screen thanks to the speedy 120Hz refresh rate, and the numerous hours of sports and YouTube videos I watched on the tablet looked vibrant and sharp. The Pro 9 still has a great screen, and when you put a pen to it, it really comes to life. Nevertheless, the top and bottom display margins are still a touch chunkier than I’d want (especially coming from the nearly seamless iPad Pro).

The Surface Thin Pen 2, which costs $130, provided the best stylus experience I’ve experienced on a tablet when I tried the Pro 9. Microsoft’s high-end pen features cutting-edge haptics that effectively replicate the feel of any virtual tool you’re using, be it a paintbrush or a pencil. I don’t consider myself an artist, but drawing on Microsoft’s 13-inch tablet felt wonderful and was far more enjoyable than using an Apple Pencil on an iPad or a S Pen on a Galaxy Tab, which provide more static experiences. I also like that the Slim Pen 2 includes actual programmable buttons on the front and back, which I found to be more dependable for changing tools and undoing activities than the tap-based controls on the $129 Apple Pencil 2.

For its added capabilities, like the ability to translate text by merely hovering over it, Samsung’s S Pen (included with the Galaxy Tab S8 series) gets points, but when it comes to taking notes and sketching on a screen, nothing feels better than Microsoft’s stylus.

Exceptional battery life and a serviceable webcam

While the performance of the 5G-based Surface Pro 9 I tested isn’t the best (more on that later), it more than makes up for it with a battery life that is genuinely exceptional. On our battery test, Microsoft’s 2-in-1 lasted an astounding 11 hours and 43 minutes of 4K video playback, outlasting top Windows laptops like the Dell XPS 13 (8:31) and more than double the performance of the new iPad Pro M2 (6:10). Its laptop’s all-day battery life makes it the perfect feature for a 5G-capable gadget that enables mobile working. Although we haven’t tested the Intel-based Pro 9, based on our experience with comparable devices, you may anticipate a reduction in battery life if you choose the more potent processor.
The 1080p webcam on the Surface Pro 9 works perfectly, delivering clear selfies that are on par with those taken by the Dell XPS 13 and a bit less clear than those taken by the MacBook Air M2. Routine video chats went off without a hitch, and the built-in Windows Hello feature made it simple for me to connect onto my computer with a quick face scan. I’m not sure how many people are rushing around shooting pictures with a 13-inch tablet in their hands, but the Pro 9’s rear-facing 10-megapixel camera is pretty grainy and dull compared to the average smartphone.


If you choose the appropriate model, the Surface Pro 9 is a fantastic 2-in-1 laptop, especially if you’re purchasing your first Surface or replacing a Pro 7 or earlier. I would recommend the Intel version to most people unless you really require continual 5G connectivity or can deal with average performance in return for battery life. Starting at $1,000, it should provide speeds that are, at the very least, somewhat faster than the much more expensive $1,300 5G version. When you consider that you’ll have to spend an additional $280 on the keyboard and pen required to get the most out of this device, the price difference is very substantial.

The Dell XPS 13 (beginning at $1,000) offers more value for your money if all you’re looking for is an excellent Windows laptop without the need to splurge on extras. Additionally, the iPad Pro (beginning at $800) is unmatched in terms of performance if you’re primarily looking for a potent tablet that can serve as a respectable laptop replacement. The Surface Pro 8 from a year ago, which starts at $800 and is generally comparable and frequently reduced, is another excellent option. It’s not quite as speedy, but it has the advantage of a headphone port. The Surface Pro 9 is the best detachable Windows laptop available for anyone else prepared to pay top dollar, especially for sketching and drawing. Of course, if you set it up correctly.

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