Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a pricey, stylish 2-in-1 laptop

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 reviewed by Daniel Rutledge on Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Microsoft's latest tablet/laptop been released just in time for the silly season.

The Surface Pro 9 comes in two forms: one powered by Qualcomm's ARM-based SQ3 chip, which I haven't used, along with one powered by a 12th Gen Intel processor, which I have.

After a few weeks of using the device every day, I've grown quite fond of it, but would ask someone a number of questions about what they wanted before recommending it.

It's quite a niche product that will set you back more than many other similar products on the market; but it does a good job at what Microsoft designed it for.

The company's mission with these is to deliver a product only Microsoft can in a similar way to how Apple releases products only it can, by marrying hardware, software, research and development, and design all from one company into the one device.

Compared to many other 2-in-1 devices that are tablets that can function as laptops, the Surface Pro 9 feels more like a laptop that can function as a tablet.

Getting the keyboard attachment is fairly essential and it's a shame you have to spend at least another couple hundred dollars to get one of those, but with it, this is a great laptop.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 reviewed by Daniel Rutledge on Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Using the stylus - Microsoft's Slim Pen 2 - also makes it a great note-taking device.

Without a stylus or keyboard, it works as a tablet but is less easy to use solely through touching with your fingers than similar Apple or Android devices with a similar form factor.

So, considering it as a laptop that functions as a tablet, the Surface Pro 9 is quite amazing.

It's super-light and easy to carry about, but doesn't skimp on power. It's obviously not a gaming PC - more on that later - but for what most people want to use a laptop for on their usual day-to-day, this is a stylish, comfortable and easy to use machine that'll comfortably handle most contemporary everyday tasks.

It is lacking on the port front, sporting just two Thunderbolt 4 ports. This is part of its minimalist design, with wireless connectivity the idea, but the lack of a headphone jack in particular may be an issue for some.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 reviewed by Daniel Rutledge on Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

The screen features a 2880x1920 display and a dynamic refresh rate of up to 120Hz, with Dolby Vision HDR support, so it's great for watching videos on. Watching the season finale of The White Lotus was fabulous with this.

The unit is also apparently mighty enough to power two 4K displays at 60Hz, one out of each port, although I wasn't able to test this.

I love unlocking my tech just by looking at it and you get that here with the Windows Hello-compatible 1080p front-facing camera. That does a great job of handling video conferences along with the decent mic setup, too.

This Surface Pro 9 is capable of a wide range of uses, including professional graphics work with its stylus.

But when it comes to illustrating, I am very far from professional, so needed some help.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 reviewed by Daniel Rutledge on Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Recently I asked Angela Feng from Newshub's graphics department to check out the illustration capabilities of the latest iPad Pro and I asked her to do the same with the Surface Pro 9.

She loved the haptic feedback of the Slim Pen 2, which has been added to Adobe products Illustrator and Fresco. This emulates the feel of using a pen or paint brush on different types of paper in a highly satisfying way.

The feel of the stylus in general Feng was a big fan of - but she didn't like everything.

Photoshop on the device struggled when she was working on a 5000MB file, and she also experienced occasional lag with the illustration software.

As for gaming, while this isn't a gaming PC, it does support Wi-Fi 6E and is a Microsoft device - so, with a decent Wi-Fi connection and an Xbox or PlayStation controller connected over Bluetooth, it's a fantastic device for Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Playing Forza Horizon 5 on it via that was really, really good. It had amazing graphics and very little latency, and I was playing it out on the lawn in the sun with no cords near me at all. What a time to be alive!

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 reviewed by Daniel Rutledge on Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

The Verdict

The Surface Pro 9 starts at $1849 in Aotearoa, with the highest-spec version asking for $4729 - well, $5339 if you get it with a Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 and Surface Arc Mouse.

For that you'll get about as good a Windows tablet as you can get, which is also a very capable, beautifully designed and wonderfully lightweight laptop.

But those prices are high and for many Kiwis, a cheaper laptop - or tablet - will be a totally fine alternative for everyday use, albeit without some of the stylishness of this unit.

Newshub was supplied a Surface Pro 9 for this review.