Surface Pro With 4G LTE Brings Always-On Connectivity to Road Warriors

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Surface Pro With 4G LTE Brings Always-On Connectivity to Road Warriors

First Look: Microsoft's Surface Pro with LTE went on sale in December 2017, but with one big catch. To obtain one, the buyer technically had to qualify as a business customer. Now, anyone in the U.S. and Canada can preorder one online with a May 1 ship date. But does the typical professional or consumer need to pay out of pocket for cellular connectivity? Folks who enjoy or at least tolerate the ritual of hunting down WiFi networks at coffee shops and airports may not want to fork over the $150 premium that the LTE version of the device commands, plus additional carrier fees. But for people who don't mind paying extra for always-on connectivity and spur-of-the-moment productivity, Surface Pro with LTE makes a compelling case. Read on to gain more first impressions of the Microsoft's Surface Pro with LTE.

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Surface Pro Design Aging Gracefully

Surface Pro with LTE arrives largely unchanged from the 2017 edition of the Surface Pro, itself an evolution of a design that Microsoft first debuted in 2014's Surface Pro 3. Although it may no longer wow in this era of super-slim portables, buyers can still expect a well-built Windows 10 Pro device with an eye-pleasing 12.3-inch screen that supports touch and stylus input.

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There’s Some Subtle Differences in LTE Model

Eagle-eyed users will notice some tiny design departures. Surface Pro with LTE has a subtle band that stretches across the back and top of the device, encompassing the rear camera and enshrouding the cellular antennas. Flip open the stand, and just beneath the microSD card slot is a tray for the SIM card that is helpfully magnetized, reducing the risk of losing the tiny part.

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LTE SIMs Provide Always On Connectivity

Pop in a mobile operator's SIM card or use the device's new embedded SIM (eSIM) feature in supported mobile carrier markets and users can expect instant, always-on connectivity.

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LTE Connectivity Makes a Difference in Productivity

The Surface Pro isn't the first PC with a cellular option. But it's one of the few that fully embraces the productivity potential of LTE computing. Just crack open the Type Cover and you're instantly online, trading emails, updating files and instant messaging colleagues without WiFi passwords.

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Road Warriors Are No Longer Limited to WiFi

As ubiquitous as WiFi seems, it's not always available. On busy networks it's not unusual to deal with slow network speed and frequent disconnections. Plus security-conscious users may be wary about connecting to unfamiliar networks. Surface Pro with LTE solves this with a dedicated cellular connection, as long as there is a robust network in range. On T-Mobile and in the New York City area, coverage is a given and speeds were brisk enough.

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Intel Core i5 CPU Provides Plenty of Power

Packing an Intel Core i5 chip running at 2.6GHz according to the OS, plus 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, Surface Pro with LTE can deftly handle web browsers, Office programs, communications software, image editing applications and other applications used during the typical workday. In short, it's a full Windows desktop that can slip into a messenger bag with ease, just don't expect the screaming performance that accompanies a PC with a Core i7 processor.

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The Battery Will Carry You Through a Long Flight or Work Day

Microsoft claims users will get 12.5 hours of battery life with LTE radio enabled. That figure is attainable if those hours are taken up by solely watching video, but users who juggle a handful of different applications and don't overly tax the processor can realistically expect to complete a transcontinental flight or trans-Atlantic flight to Europe before needing to plug in again.

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LTE Connectivity Doesn’t Come Cheap

At $1,449, the model Surface Pro with LTE (Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD) costs $150 more than the non-LTE version. That figure doesn't include a Surface Pen or a Type Cover. It's quite an investment, one that budget-conscious users can avoid by simply using the hotspot functionality in many of today's smartphones. If money is no object, the sheer convenience of smartphone-like connectivity is liberating.

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