Microsoft’s latest addition to the Surface Pro family is the Surface Pro LTE. If you are a road warrior, this is THE Surface SKU to get. While it may not be an “always connected PC” (ACPC) officially, it sure seems so to me. It’s being offered to Business customers only, in the Microsoft Store online, and through partners. Note that if you aren’t a business, you will have to jump through some hoops to register to your personal Microsoft Account, but this can be done.
Microsoft offers downloadable recovery images for all their Surface SKU’s, and while the Surface Pro LTE has been in sale and shipping since early December, it isn’t listed in the dropdown to register a new device (as of 1/25/2018):
You actually can download the BMR recovery image today, using a strange work around.
1. Don’t try to Select a Surface product
2. Type in the Serial number for you Surface Pro LTE. You can’t paste it in, for some reason that does not work.
3. Select Download recovery image
Currently, you will see it appear to offer Surface Pro M1796 which is NOT the Pro LTE. Take the leap of faith and ignore this. You will see that the file that downloads is, in fact, the Pro LTE recovery image.
4. Select Continue
I’ve been bugging Microsoft daily on getting the web site fixed so that this isn’t such a crazy undertaking. You’d think it would be easy to fix, but I guess not..
(And yes, you CAN and should create a recovery image from the bits already on your Surface Pro LTE but if disaster strikes and that image is corrupt and you need one, you can get it from Microsoft).
I thought it was time to start a separate blog all about Microsoft Surface. Even though I’ve had quirks with my SP3, I’m passionate about the product and the newest 2017 Surface Pro so far is a dream machine.
I really loved my Surface Pro 3 (purchased June 2014), but earlier this year, it became useless as a portable with a non functional battery. If I hadn’t encountered the (well known) battery issues, I would still be happily using my SP3. But being chained to AC outlets isn’t my idea of portability. I was hoping that Microsoft would offer a special trade in allowance for SP3 owners in light of the well publicized battery issues afflicting this model, but alas, it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, I decided to spend the money and splurge on the new Surface Pro, i7, 512/16 configuration. The form factor is perfect for me and the extreme portability (bad back) just can’t be equaled elsewhere.
Clearly there are speed increases moving from an older i5 processor to the latest Kaby Lake i7 and moving from 8GB to 16GB RAM (and I have to assume that the new 512GB SSD is faster than the old 256GB SSD) and then there’s the eye popping display. Wow.
Benchmarks may be meaningful to some (and I noted that some of the technical reviewers included them) but for me, real world use with the apps and programs *I* use are what is important. I’m not a gamer (and I’ve heard that gaming is much better on the newer Surface than every before). I’m an advanced user/creative (photography) and I care about things like Lightroom, Capture One, Photoshop, etc.
The new Surface Pro also has a neat feature for creatives: a dual color space where you can select sRGB or Enhanced.
So why is sRGB/Enhanced important? If you are a photographer producing for print using a commercial print house, you want as accurate a color space as possible, and sRGB is the way to go. Enhanced is great for watching movies, videos, and just general computing; colors pop and seem vibrant, almost three dimensional. It’s pretty difficult to show the differences in the two color spaces on the web, but I decided that showing thumbnails side by side of sRGB vs Enhanced might illustrate the difference. Using Lightroom 6, I switched color spaces and took a screen shot the two thumbnail images below in File Explorer (making no changes in Lightroom). I’m not sure how this will appear on the web in various browsers/platforms, etc., but hope that the difference is discernible. With the “hot” color the subject is wearing, the sRGB would make a better print (in my opinion).
I’ve found the new Surface Pen to be more responsive (seemingly no lag at all) on my new Surface. I have an older version of Photoshop (CS5) which does not have native Surface Pen support. Microsoft didn’t post the needed Wintab drivers on the specific download page for the new Surface Pro, but I downloaded and installed the 64 bit version (Wintab_x64_188.8.131.52.zip) from the SP4 download site and this works just fine. I’ve asked an internal contact about why this is missing from the new Surface Pro downloads. I believe Microsoft thinks everyone has upgraded to the latest version of Photoshop that natively supports the Surface Pen, but I know other creatives who use CS5 and don’t plan to upgrade.
Everything seems zippier on my new Surface Pro. It’s a real pleasure to use and I’m glad I made the purchase. I’ve had a fair number of “portables” over a 28 year period. I’ve captured most (but not all) of this history as I didn’t include the first Surface Pro that I bought in 2013 (or the Macbook Air I bought in 2011) in my trip down memory lane.:
Some reviewers have been complaining that the new Surface Pro isn’t bleeding edge and lacks things like USB-C, etc. and that it is only incremental. In my mind, incremental is good. Reminds me of the years that I bought ThinkPad’s where there really weren’t any huge leaps in technology, but there was stability. I’m fine without USB-C. The USB 3.0 port and an external card reader allow me to import images from my camera’s SDXC card and I’m ok with the need for an external card reader.
I’m not sure that the new 2017 Surface Pro is a meaningful upgrade for Surface Pro 4 owners, but if you have a SP3 or earlier, and you have the money, in my opinion, it’s definitely an upgrade to consider. I’m very happy with my purchase.