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Microsoft Surface Pro X Laptop Review: As Hardware Constantly Upgrades, Software Becomes the Biggest Weakness

Microsoft Surface Pro X Laptop Review: As Hardware Constantly Upgrades, Software Becomes the Biggest Weakness

In the PC category, Surface Pro X laptop is small but unique. It is clear that the device that attracts vast attention and leads to a heated discussion about when the new version will be available. Surface Pro X has its uniqueness.

As a traditional Windows tablet, the standard Surface Pro 7 tablet perfectly accords to the definition of a laptop. However, such devices have been around for generations and are now entering an overly comfortable middle-aged period. 

Although the new device has made subtle adjustments in the aspect of design, components, and functions, several recent versions have been too conservative to be innovative.

However, Microsoft didn't mean to set aside the computer hardware division. Now, Neo and Duo prototypes with dual-display are among the most anticipated products in 2020. 

And the Surface Pro X laptop is part of an initiative for future technology, a new version of the tablet-and-keyboard concept that tightly combines the PC with the smartphone.


Name of Surface Pro X Laptop

 Pro X conveys Microsoft's ambitions while expressing a sense of the future. Different from iPhone X, Microsoft wants to convey the mysterious meaning of X, like x-files, x-men, and x-com.

The reason why it is a "mysterious" device, for now, is that most of the features of Surface Pro 7 are hidden into a thinner body. An LTE SIM card is inserted into a hidden slot under the magnetic panel. 

It will also use a redesigned stylus in a magnetic card slot between the clip-on keyboard and magnetic hinge.

Also, in terms of design aesthetics, the device will be slimmer, smoother, and more refined. The keyboard cover does not change much, whereas the backlight button delivers better performance than the MacBook. 

The display with a high resolution of 2880x1920 pixels is surrounded by a thin and modern frame, while the customer can adjust the rear wheel bracket if necessary.

So why is Surface Pro X laptop not the best choice for customers? The redesign of the appearance is correct, but there are many deficiencies in both sides of hardware specifications and price structure. 

In other words, compared with the tablet powered by the Intel chip, the device is not powerful enough, on the one hand, the necessary accessories are too expensive, on the other hand, the performance and compatibility of software are not satisfying.

 Surface Pro X ARM

 These problems are because a typical Windows computer isn't powered by an Intel chip or even a computer-based AMD processor. 

Similar to most of the current smartphone configurations, it uses the ARM chip to run a Windows system, which is rare in PCs. Microsoft named the processor SQ1, which is a collaborative product of Microsoft and Qualcomm based on the Snapdragon chip.

Surface Pro X laptop and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Book S laptop are the third generations of PCs powered by an ARM processor. HP, Lenovo, ASUS launched the first generations of PCs. 

Among these products, such as Asus NovaGo, didn't live up to high expectations, at a higher price. Moreover, there existed the limitations in terms of performance and software and less than proclaimed 20 hours of battery life. 

Nevertheless, the initial purpose is to make up for these deficiencies.

Typical Chromebooks are also constrained by similar limitations. Fortunately, consumers have accepted them in exchange for convenience and security. Most importantly, the price of around $300-400 is advantageous. 

So far, the poor sales results of most ARM-based laptops and 2-in-1 computers should be attributed to the high cost.


Surface Pro X Positioning & Price 

The biggest failure of Surface Pro X is the wrong positioning of price. From the design, the excellent screen-to-body ratio to the hidden stylus, it is attractive enough to draw the consumers' attention. 

However, the price of Surface Pro 7 powered by an Intel processor, starts at $749, while the price of Surface Pro X laptop with more limited functions begins from $999.

From the perspective of customers' experience, a slightly higher price is acceptable in consideration of the suitable size and weight. But according to the current positioning, customers are more willing to buy a well-received 13-inch MacBook Air laptop in a promotion.

Also, the biggest weakness in the history of the Surface Pro laptop family has stirred up the water. Regardless of the configuration of the device purchased by the consumers, the clip-on magnetic keyboard and the redesigned stylus are not included but sold separately.

The Surface Pro X keyboard costs a user $139 more, and perhaps the user feels comforted that it is a little cheaper than the similar Surface Pro 7 keyboard. 

A Surface Pro X stylus and a normal Surface pen differ a lot from each other. The former can be tucked into a hidden hinge; compared to the standard $99 Surface Pen, the Surface Pro X stylus costs $144. 

The additional keyboard and stylus make the total price of Surface Pro X more than 25% higher, more expensive than any previous Windows computer powered by an ARM processor.

Indeed, the users' needs should be taken into account. Perhaps it is worth the investment on account of the outstanding engineering and appearance design.


Surface Pro X Software Compatibility

 When the user tries to install Photoshop CC, the following message appears: "Your computer-based on a 32-bit system is incapable of running the latest version of Photoshop CC because this software requires a 64-bit system. 

Please follow the instruction to download the latest compatible version." Another version of the application has been introduced to Surface Pro X laptop, and Adobe replied: "We will strive to bring other key parts of Creative Cloud to Surface Pro X as soon as possible."

It can be confusing to run a Windows application on a non-Windows PC. The problem results from Microsoft. Drivers for hardware, games, and applications can only be downloaded when designed for Windows 10 ARM-based computers. 

More details on how the SQ1 chip works reflect that mainstream software for x86 chips will not run on ARM-based devices.

Adobe applications will be widely applied in the future, and standard applications like Office are already working. What can we do now? 

Just like on a Chromebook, after trying, the web-based tools are easy to use, this can meet 75% of the daily needs of consumers, such as e-mail, Netflix, social media, and so on. 

However, in this case, the $300 Chromebook (or even the $650 Chromebook) is more competitive than the $1,269 tablet with the combination of keyboard and stylus.

Surface Pro X Advantages

 However, the advantages of this device are not negligible. The hidden Micro-SIM card slot under the magnetic panel behind the bracket means access to the LTE network. It is rare in laptops and tablets. 

Even Surface Pro 7 laptop hasn't got an LTE version. But consumers must pay LTE service fees monthly, just like iPad LTE and smartphone.

Another advertised highlight is the battery life of laptops with ARM processors. In fact, in previous generations of equipment, the battery life was only around 12 hours, not more than the exaggerated 20 hours. 

For Surface Pro X laptop, Microsoft only claims that "The battery life can be up to 13 hours depending on current usage of Surface devices." In the test, Pro X lasted for 8 hours and 50 minutes while playing the video. 

Although the result did not break the record, it was satisfactory. Since the results of the battery test and the benchmark test did not come out, the subject remains to be discussed.


 In general, Surface Pro X has a bold sense of innovation. The compact design, high-quality display and frame, redesigned stylus, good battery life, and excellent keyboard are all satisfactory. 

Because of the relatively high price, especially the cost of accessories and software compatibility issues, customers are limited in comparison with the mature Surface Pro 7 laptop.

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