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Surface Pro 7 review: USB-C upgrade, battery downgrade

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Keyboard cover

The Surface Pro’s Type Cover is the same as before. It’s still covered in the luxe Alcantara fabric and will still cost you an extra $160, but pounding out my review on it was a breeze.

As before, the individual keys here have ample travel and springy feedback and the entire layout is well-spaced. No buttons here are undersized or out of reach, so I could type accurately and quickly. If I really had to pick on the cover, I’d say it feels a little hollow and is somewhat noisy. I’d also like a bigger trackpad. But those are minor complaints, and this remains without a doubt the best keyboard cover I’ve used. It’s the ThinkPad of made-for-tablet keyboard folios.

USB-C

What I’m most excited about on the Surface Pro 7 is its new USB-C port. It replaces the mini Displayport from older models, which honestly, good riddance. I never used it, and USB-C is far more versatile. You can do so much more with it. Connect a pair of headphones? Check. Charge the device? Check. You can even connect a USB-C hub and plug in even more peripherals.

For someone like me, who uses USB-C to charge her laptop and smartphone, this is a big deal. I have a USB-C charger both at home and in the office, so I no longer have to lug around an extra cable for the Pro 7’s Surface Connect charger. I can also use the tablet when I’m at keynotes or covering conventions more easily now, since I can connect a USB-C card reader or ethernet adaptor. Of course, I could also do this with the USB-A port, but I’ve now got an additional option to link more things to the Surface Pro 7 at the same time.

Surface Pro 7 review

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Improved microphones

Another small update that Microsoft made to the Pro 7 is giving it enhanced dual far-field studio mics. This is meant to make it easier for the device to hear your Cortana requests and keep your voice crisp and clear on conference calls. The digital assistant was able to correctly interpret my requests for translations, the time in other countries and the weather in various neighborhoods. I also used the Pro 7 to record an interview and could hear everything clearly.

Surface Pen updates

There are some new Surface Pen features that make it easier to edit documents and spreadsheets, too. When you scrawl into an Excel sheet or a Word doc, Microsoft can recognize not just what you’re writing, but also how you might be editing a piece. For example, when you’re using a regular pen to edit an essay, you might draw a line through words to strike them out. Or you might use a caret sign to indicate that something needs to be inserted.

Using these actions will now work in Word as well, though you must first enable “Ink Editor” mode. The new gestures function most of the time, though they weren’t always accurate. I’d draw a diagonal line across two and a half words and only the last word would be deleted. You need to be quite precise, drawing a straight horizontal line across all the words you want removing. If I didn’t have a keyboard connected, this would be a useful method to edit documents in a pinch. But using the keyboard was almost always an easier, more accurate means to make changes.

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