This story is part of CES, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.
CES 2021 is just starting, but many PC companies have already announced new laptops, tablets, desktops and two-in-one PCs. Microsoft doesn’t typically introduce new computer hardware during CES, but it’s jumping into the mix this year with the Surface Pro 7 Plus.
This is a business and education version of the Surface Pro 7, which I reviewed in October 2019. In the meantime, we’ve seen the Surface Laptop Go and a new Surface Pro X, but not another flagship Surface Pro.
This naturally raises a question: What do you call the “pro” version of your product, when the regular version already has Pro in the name? Microsoft’s solution is to append a plus symbol, indicating that this is more than a Surface Pro 7, but not quite a Surface Pro 8.
A handful of features and upgrades separate the Pro Plus from the plain old Pro. First, the Surface 7 Pro Plus gets built-in LTE mobile data options, something the Surface Pro 7 lacked. No, it’s not 5G support, but that’s true of most of the mobile-broadband-ready laptops from 2020 and so far in 2021. That’s yet another data point that 5G just isn’t a big deal yet for many system shoppers and PC makers.
Also new are 11th-gen Intel Core processors (the regular Surface Pro 7 has 10th-gen chips), plus up to 32GB of RAM, doubling the previous 16GB limit. Both the Surface 7 Pro and 7 Pro Plus top out at 1TB of internal storage, if you’re willing to pay for it. Microsoft claims the new processors can be up to 2.1 times faster than the previous model, with 15 hours of battery life, up from about 11 hours.
The new Surface Pro Plus has a few extra features to appeal to the business and education crowds. IT departments will appreciate the new emphasis on remote deployment. With Windows Autopilot, for example, devices can ship directly from Microsoft to employees, already configured with your company’s security settings and software, so an IT person won’t have to unbox each Surface, image it, rebox it and send it on to the employee. The new surface 7 Pro Plus also has a removable SSD drive for extra data security.
The Surface Pro 7 Plus starts at $899 ($1,149 for LTE versions), with preorders starting now and products shipping by the end of this week. That’s about £670 or AU$1,170 converted.