Hands On With Microsoft Surface Pro LTE

The Microsoft Surface Pro LTE was released last month (it’s been available for Microsoft Business customers since last December), and at first, it doesn’t seem that interesting. It’s the same Surface Pro that was released in June of 2017. But it adds $150 to the price tag, and includes a SIM card slot.

I can’t explain how convenient it is to have internet access on your laptop wherever you go. Yes, you can always use your mobile hotspot. That always takes a little time to set up, and, at times, the hotspot doesn’t work.

I was at the gym this week. There was no Wi-Fi. But I was still able to watch Hulu on the treadmill with the Surface Pro without lugging around a smartphone. And the internet works the moment the computer turns on.

The Surface Pro LTE is an almost perfect tablet-laptop hybrid.

Do you need an extra data plan for the Surface Pro LTE? Not really! I put the SIM card from one of my T-Mobile phones in the slot and I was able to get internet access the moment the computer turned on. There was no difficulty with setting up protocols, permissions, data numbers, etc. The only problem is that with my T-Mobile card, I was only able to get 3G speeds (500 kbps on the average) rather than the 4G LTE speeds I get on my phone (usually above 10 mbps). However, 3G is still relatively fast in most situations.

The Surface Pro LTE runs on an Intel Core i5 processor (7th generation), has 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB hard drive. It’s great for doing office work, somewhat heavy photo editing, and minor video editing. It’s not the type of machine you want to use all the time to edit 4K videos, but it can be done (although very slowly) with Adobe Premiere Pro. I really wish they had a more advanced version with LTE capabilities — like the Pro that runs the Intel Core i7 processor and has 16GB of RAM.

The Surface Pro LTE doesn't have many ports.

After not using the Surface Pro for a long time, I’m reminded of how far Microsoft has come to finally make a tablet/laptop hybrid. I’m also reminded of how far behind they are. There are no USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports on the latest Surface Pros. The bezel space is still somewhat big, but perhaps that’s a good thing since people use the device as a tablet and don’t want to accidentally press the screen.

I’m also reminded of how far behind Microsoft is with the Surface Pen, especially when compared to devices like the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro. Still, the Surface Pro LTE is one of the only devices out there that allows you to do full desktop PC work anyplace and anytime. The $1449 price tag may be a little steep, but there are many ways in which you can get a $150 to $200 discount. The Surface Pro LTE will be a big hit for Microsoft.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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