OK, first thing’s first!. The Surface Pro X is a beautiful machine. It’s super thin, it’s lost many of the little bumps and vents the old versions have, it comes in this matte black that looks so cool when you wife the finger prints off it. They shrank down the bezels, it’s got that nice shiny screen. The hinge is as great as it’s ever been,. It has 2, count em’ 2 usb-c ports, a mag port for charging, You can even swap out the storage really easily, look at how small that drive is.. The design of the Surface Pro X is something to behold.
There is also a redesigned keyboard cover and a redesigned slim pen. These 2 things don’t come standard with the X, you can get them bundled along for another $269.
But the biggest change and the one that will have the largest impact on how you use this tablet computer is what’s under the hood. They have switched from using Intel chips to Arm chips.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Windows apps have to be reworked or recompiled to work with these new arm chips.
Because of this not every app you may want to use will work on the X. Gaming is pretty much completely out, Most games just flat out won’t run. So why is Microsoft doing this? Let’s go to the storyboard.
Arm chips are what you find in phones and tablets and they run with a lot less power which means less drag on battery performance and and less heat generated meaning less need for airflow in and out of your computer.
They aren’t as powerful as Intel chips so for tasks like video editing or gaming Intel is still the way to go but for a lot of common every day computing tasks arm processors work just fine.
About 3 years ago Microsoft said hey software makers, Windows now supports Arm And the software makers said, cool bro And Microsoft was like, so are you going to support it?
But that transition has moved pretty slow, only a couple computer makers have used Arm chips in their laptops because not all software is ready and software makers haven’t made arm support a priority because there aren’t many computers that need it.
So here comes the Surface Pro X. Nothing says hey software makers, time for you to take this more seriously than Microsoft taking their brand new flag ship tablet computer and make it arm only.
This isn’t Microsoft’s first stab at trying this, but is their most serious.
Microsoft is probably hoping This move will prompt a lot of software makers who have arm support on their to do lists to make it a priority.
Microsoft is using the Surface Pro X to make a statement about the future of Windows. There will still be plenty of uses for more powerful intel chips for the foreseeable future but the Pro X is paving the way for classes of devices and form factors that can run Windows in the future. It may not work but I can respect the gutsyness.
This brings up a pretty big question: what will work on the Surface Pro X? Some apps are native to arm, like Microsofts apps and those are fast and snappy. Many others though are being emulated to run properly and they are noticeably slower or occasionally throw up weird error messages when using.
I can’t possibly test everything in just one week but I took a look at some graphics apps to see how things are coming along.
The other big question here is the new Slim pen. This is the first major redesign of the Surface pen in years. The pen also has a rechargeable battery now and if you get the fancy new keyboard cover it will recharge while it’s being stowed away.
The good news is that the only thing that’s changed about the pen is its appearance. The bad news is that the only thing that’s changed about the pen is its appearance.
It’s still Microsofts Pen Protocol (formerly known as ntrig) running the show. It has it plusses and minuses, good palm recognition but a fair amount of waviness to the lines you get from it. OK, lets do it.Pros and cons:
The pros: this is a sleek machine it looks great and it feels like the future. If all you need are native Windows apps, office software or to take notes this thing and using web apps it is great! It is perfect for you right now.
The cons: Comes down to that arm chip and the pen. This device also removes some things found in older surface devices most notably the headphone jack and SD card slot.
The big thing is obviously that ARM chip. I think Microsoft feels this is something they need to do right now, but for art and design this isn’t the right machine right now. This is the future not the present. I can’t recommend it for creative professionals. If you are looking for something to draw on for this price this is just to limiting. It’s better to look at the Surface Pro 7, other Windows tablets or an iPad.
Hopefully Over the next year or so the arm problem is going to sort itself out, and I really hope it does.
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