There are a couple missteps, too.
The volume rocker is uncomfortably close to the power button, causing this writer to put it into sleep mode while trying to hush a site that blasts audio on more than one occasion. Also missing is a USB-C port, forcing users to carry around Microsoft’s proprietary power brick.
As expected, the Core i5 chip and 8GB of RAM in the review model provided by Microsoft handled Office apps, a tab-filled Chrome browser and more demanding apps without a hiccup.
Bootup, log-in and app startup times were brisk, thanks in large part to the built-in SSD with a generous 256GB of storage space, which can be expanded in a low-key manner by adding a microSD card. In tests, it was possible to boot into the desktop from a complete shutdown in as little as 13 seconds, give or take a second or two depending on when Windows Hello’s face recognition kicks in or how quickly you can type in your password.
For busy folks, there’s one big perceived performance booster.
With LTE enabled, the device can connect automatically, which means that OneDrive and Dropbox folders sync without waiting for a Wi-Fi network to appear. Email is delivered in the background and messaging services are ready to go.
The ability to get down to work at a moment’s notice is one of the strongest cases for paying extra for LTE. Of course, Windows 10 allows users to track and configure their data usage, helping them avoid costly overages.
In terms of battery life, Microsoft claims the Surface Pro with LTE Advanced can last up to 12.5 hours between charges, but that figure is based on video playback under certain conditions. In real-world conditions—email, web browsing and using productivity apps—you can expect it to last about half that time with some conservative power management settings.
All things considered, busy professionals and workaholics will appreciate the sheer convenience of a consistently connected Surface Pro, making the $150 price premium and additional costs worth it, provided they have a the money to spare. If you’re the typical small business user, the stock Surface Pro will do the trick, especially if you can use your phone as a hot spot without incurring additional charges.