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Aujourd’hui — 23 octobre 2021Microsoft

Surface Duo 2 receives first major update, 'improves system stability'

Microsoft is rolling out a fresh update for Surface Duo 2 just one day after its release.

What you need to know

  • A new system update is rolling out to Surface Duo 2.
  • The update is 228MB in size and addresses "system stability."
  • The patch bumps the build from 2021.824.206 to 2021.827.34.

After being out for just a day, Microsoft is already pushing out a new system update for Surface Duo 2. The update is strictly bug fixes as the Android security patch is still dated for September 5 and not the latest from October.

The update is around 228MB in size, which is substantial. The official release notes are vague, only noting it "improves device stability" and bumps the build from 2021.824.206 to 2021.827.34.

The update is rolling out in waves, meaning not all Surface Duo 2s are getting right now, including our loaner unit, which is still on the older 2021.824.206 build used for the review. Microsoft notes "Surface updates are release in stages—not every Surface will receive the update at the same time, but it'll be delivered to all devices."

It's too early to tell just how much has been fixed or what has improved. Some of the early comments, so far, on reddit have been positive.

Unlike last year, there was no "day one" patch for Surface Duo 2. During the out-of-box experience, the latest update (dated back from August) is applied, making today's update technically the second one. Microsoft hasn't yet pushed out any updates to the inboard apps, including Microsoft Launcher, Camera, or Photos.

Surface Duo 2 received many negative to mixed reviews this week, praising the updated hardware but lamenting ongoing software issues, which we detailed in our lengthy review.

Sources have told Windows Central that the Duo team is planning to be more aggressive with updates for the second edition of the $1,500 dual-screen device, though that remains to be seen. Owners of Surface Duo 1 are still awaiting Android 11.

We'll be following the journey of Surface Duo 2 in the coming year to see if (and how) it improves over time.

À partir d’avant-hierMicrosoft

Razer Enki X review: A $299 all-day gaming chair for the rest of us

Razer's latest gaming chair puts the focus on your butt, and with a more affordable $299 starting price, it's well worth the investment.

Last year, I reviewed Razer's $500 gaming chair dubbed the Iskur. While definitely on the high-end for gaming chairs, it brought something completely new: an adjustable lumbar arch for those long gaming seshes.

Now, Razer is back with the Razer Enki and Enki X. These are technically gaming chairs built for all-day use, making them better choices for those who want less of a gaming chair and more really comfortable office chairs. Think of a V6 sedan instead of a V8 sports car.

While they both lack the mechanical lumbar arch found on Iskur, they make up for that with a much lower starting price of $299. I'll also argue that the Enki's primary feature, the extra padded seat cushion, makes it a fantastic option for the rest of us more casual gamers.

I've been using Enki X for the last few weeks, and here's what I think.

Razer Enki X

Bottom line: The Razer Enki and Enki X deliver all-day comfort thanks to its outstanding bottom cushion that's wider and flatter than regular gaming chairs. The lower starting price, design, and ease of assembly make it an easy recommendation.

The Good

  • Very comfortable for hours of sitting
  • Cool environmentally friendly design
  • Easy to assemble
  • Reasonable price

The Bad

  • Can be squeaky if overtightened
  • Wheels could be better
  • Armrests could use more padding

$299 at Razer

Razer Enki X: Price and availability

Razer Enki and Enki X are now available through the Razer store. Pricing starts at $299 for Enki X and $399 for Enki.

Both chairs have the same seat, backrest, and overall design, which is the crucial part. But the $399 Enki has 4D armrests (instead of 2D), a "reactive seat tilt" with a 152-degree recline (versus only the 152-recline found in Enki X), and a memory foam headrest pillow (which you buy for Enki X separately). Everything else is the same between the two chairs.

Razer Enki X: What's good

Enki X and Enki are built for people who sit behind a PC all day and who happen to like to game. Or maybe you don't even game; you sit at a desk all day and want a comfortable office chair that looks cooler than something you'd get at Staples.

Razer deserves credit for ease of assembly. Opening the big box and you're greeted with some humorous imagery, a pair of gloves, and a gigantic welcome letter that doubles as instructions. Compared to Iskur, Enki X is even easier to put together, thanks to some of the screws being pre-threaded. Total assembly time, including unpacking, was 25 minutes.

To design Enki, Razer sought help from an "aviation design specialist … who previously designed cockpits and flight chairs to allow pilots to remain focused and comfortable when sitting for extended periods of time." It paid off. With a broader seat base than Iskur at 21 inches, Enki lets you cross your legs and move around more comfortably, unlike typical gaming chairs, which are more like jetfighter cockpits — tight and confining.

Category Razer Enki
Recommended weight Less than 300 pounds
Less than 136kg
Recommended height 5'5" to 6'8"
166cm to 204cm
Chair cover color Green, black, quartz
Chair cover material EPU synthetic leather
Base Aluminium base
Frame Steel frame
Armrests 4D metal-reinforced armrests
Casters 60mm PU coated casters
Gas lift class Class 4
Foam rype High-density PU molded foam
Total recline angle 152 degrees
Adjustable headrest Memory foam headrest pillow
Warranty length 36 months

Razer made a big deal about "pressure mapping" people's derrieres, comparing Enki to other chairs noting that Enki has fewer pressure points because of how weight is distributed. And it's all true. I can sit in Enki all day and the boney part of my butt (the ischium for your anatomy nerds) and not feel any discomfort or pressure points. I'm blown away by this as all chairs eventually cause some fatigue from sitting, but this is the first time for me that hasn't happened. I wish airlines used these seats, and not just for pilots.

While Enki doesn't have the excellent articulating lumbar arch of Iskur, it does have a smaller fixed one that feels supportive when leaning back.

Razer is using premium "dual-textured eco-sustainable synthetic leather" (the same found in some luxury car brands) and remarks that it is made with "reduced energy consumption and carbon-emission processes, with no environmentally harmful solvents used in its production." The effect and appearance are excellent.

And Unlike some leather (or faux leather) gaming chairs where you may slide, the Enki keeps you in place the whole time, thanks to the patterned fabric in the middle. Plus, it looks sharp.

Razer Enki X: What's not good

There are some very minor complaints with Razer Enki. After assembling the chair, I noticed some squeaking emanating from where the seat base and back meet. It was the EPU synthetic leather and some of the plastic rubbing. Perhaps I overtightened the screws because loosening them up did dramatically reduce the effect, although it is still there if I force it.

The wheels are also just OK. They pick up dirt and dust very quickly and don't quite roll as smoothly as I'd hope. They get you around, but I could also see upgrading these to something better for a more premium experience.

The reclining mechanism can be a bit loud and rough, too, although it's not dramatically different from other chairs.

Likewise, the 2D armrests (4D on Enki) are not as smooth or high quality as Razer Iskur (but that's what you get for $200 less).

Speaking of, adding some softer padding to those armrests wouldn't be a bad thing either. While they do a decent job supporting your arms during extended typing sessions, my elbows get sore after a few hours from resting on them. So, Razer, that's my tip: Take the same material used in the seat cushion, add them to the armrests. I expect a check in the mail.

Razer Enki X: Competition

There aren't many chairs that straddle the line between gaming and office chair quite like Razer Enki and Enki X, as most are clearly in one camp or the other.

The most apparent competitor to Razer in the premium chair space is Secretlab. It just launched its new TITAN Evo series, which is gaining a lot of positive reviews and praise. Secretlab's specialty is mass production combined with customization, letting you pick sizes, styles, and colors. But as good as the TITAN Evo is, the starting price is $499, which is more analogous to Razer's premium Iskur. Still, it's worth the look if you're shopping.

Heading below $300 and you have E-WIN, which is another big brand in gaming chairs. It doesn't focus on all-day comfort as the Enki, but it is just $269. The E-WIN Calling series also lets you pick some different colors, using cold-cure foam and PU leather.

You can get more ideas from our best gaming chairs roundup.

Razer Enki X: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You want a comfortable all-day computer chair
  • You're OK with a gamer (Razer) aesthetic
  • You find "cockpit" chairs too tight

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You work in an actual office
  • You want the best lumbar support

Razer is still relatively new to the gaming chair industry, which is a highly competitive one. I usually avoid reviewing too many of these seats because they're so similar and, quite frankly, boring. But twice Razer has disrupted this business, first with Iskur's articulating lumbar arch and now with Enki's exceptionally comfortable seat base: This is excellent stuff.

I think anyone who likes the look of Enki would be pleased with this chair. It's super comfortable, the quality is excellent, it's easy to assemble, and it has a three-year warranty.

The price is also good starting at $300, which seems fair and is easier to swing than Iskur's $500 cost. Compared to Iskur, I think this is a better option for those who plan on spending eight hours a day sitting versus a "battle chair" idealized for long gaming sessions. Both are great, but for different reasons.

Honestly, I'd love to see Razer combine the two concepts. Add Iskur's articulating lumbar arch to a pricier Enki "Pro," add some cushier padding to the armrests, and call it a day.

4.5 out of 5

Overall, Razer Enki X (and Enki) is easy to recommend to anyone who wants one of the best all-day computer chairs on the market. The all-black look and gamer aesthetic may not appeal to some, but I wouldn't be surprised if Razer offers more variations like the fabric gray Iskur. I'll be using it from now on as Iskur will replace our secondary generic office chair.

Razer Enki X

Bottom line: The Razer Enki and Enki X deliver all-day comfort thanks to its outstanding bottom cushion that's wider and flatter than regular gaming chairs. The lower starting price, design, and ease of assembly make it an easy recommendation.

$299 at Razer

Review: Surface Duo 2 gets good, but there are still holes to be filled

Microsoft's latest dual-screen Android phone gets major hardware revisions, which positively alters the experience, but the software still holds it back from greatness.

In late 2019, Microsoft surprised the world with its grand idea for a modern pocketable computing experience with Surface Duo, a phone with two displays that resembled a digital diary. A year later, that device hit store shelves with a thud. Buggy software, a high price, and severely lacking hardware made it nearly impossible to recommend except for the bold early adopters and risk-takers.

Based on ideas from years earlier, the Duo 1 was meant to be a pocketable Surface that ran a version of Windows, not Android. The concept was later salvaged as it was "converted" to an Android phone in a last-minute Hail Mary. If you wonder why there was no NFC, a lousy camera, no 5G, an old CPU, well, there you go.

So, what happens when Microsoft can completely redo the hardware knowing it's going to be a flagship Android phone in late 2021? You get Surface Duo 2 with Android 11 (an OS slightly more optimized for the dual-screen experience).

The good news is Surface Duo 2 is a giant leap forward in the concept. It is more impressive than ever with a triple camera array, 90Hz curved displays, NFC, 5G, and the potent Snapdragon 888. The software is also better — faster, snappier … and generally less buggy (more on that later).

At $1,500, Surface Duo 2 is still going to have a tough hill to climb to convince the masses to take the risk, but at least this time, it plays the part, even if it's still not ready for the mainstream.

Surface Duo 2

Bottom line: Surface Duo 2 is a significant improvement over the first-gen with much better hardware, attention to detail, and software that is significantly less buggy. There are still issues to solve, however, and the high price will keep many away.

The Good

  • Fast, fluid dual-screen Android experience
  • 5G, NFC, Snapdragon 888
  • Brilliant hardware design
  • Larger 90 Hz displays
  • Respectable rear cameras

The Bad

  • Even more expensive
  • Occasional minor bugs
  • No Wireless charging
  • Not much for the pen to do (yet)

From $1,499 at Microsoft From $1,499 at Best Buy

Surface Duo 2: Price and availability

Surface Duo 2 has a starting price of $1,499, a $100 increase over the first Surface Duo's launch price. Even though it costs more, there is also less in the box with no free bumper case or a Type-C charger brick (though you do get the charger cable).

Optional accessories include the $40 Surface Duo 2 Bumper (redesigned with newer materials), the $65 Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover (pen not included), and the $130 Surface Slim Pen 2. The Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover can wirelessly recharge the Surface Duo 2 Slim Pen 1 or 2 and hold it in place with magnets. The pen also sticks to Surface Duo 2 without the cover, but it won't wirelessly recharge.

The device is available in more countries at launch compared to the first generation, however, and is expected to start shipping on October 21 in the following markets:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan

Surface Duo 2 can be had in Glacier White or Obsidian Black (new) colors, in either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storage configurations. The pricing for each spec is $1,499, $1,599, and $1,799 respectively.

Surface Duo 2: Hardware and design

Surface Duo 2 looks like the first version save for the new (fingerprint-prone) obsidian black colorway from far away. But picking up the Duo 2, it is immediately apparent that this is not the same phone as last year. Microsoft completely rebuilt every aspect of Surface Duo 2, and it is all for the better.

On the outside of Surface Duo 2 is Corning Gorilla Glass, and on the inside, Corning Victus — the toughest glass there is currently. That glass now slightly curves at the edges in a "2D" falloff reminiscent of Nokia Lumia screens. The result is Duo 2 feels softer in the hands with fewer hard edges compared to the first-gen. Microsoft also reworked the frame and materials used for the entire phone with better seals, making it more resistant to damage. This includes a reinforced Type-C port, which is now in the middle. There is even rudimentary IPX1 water protection.

The device is a bit thicker at 5.5mm opened instead of 4.8mm (11mm and 9.9mm closed, respectively), but it's only noticeable if you directly compare Duo 2 to its predecessor. The weight increases from 250 grams to 284, making it slightly heavier than Samsung's Galaxy Fold 3 (271g).

Duo 2 spreads its bulk out more evenly compared to regular phones, making it less like an anchor in your pocket. That size and weight increase are due to the larger battery, which jumps from 3,577mAh to 4,449mAh, needed to power the 90Hz displays (up from 60Hz) and much faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor (vs. Snapdragon 855).

Ironically, that added weight and thickness work in the Duo 2's favor. The first Duo was almost too thin, making it feel fragile, which the included bumper case helped alleviate. Surface Duo 2 feels more substantial and less delicate, making the bumper feel non-essential.

Even the hinges are new with Surface Duo 2. Despite being an engineering marvel in how thin they are and housing the wiring for both displays, the Duo 1's hinges a very light click if you quickly opened the screens, which some users confused with breakage. That's gone now as the Duo 2's hinges are smoother with slightly more resistance — opening it up is even more satisfying, which is a notable achievement.

On the rear is the most significant difference with a new triple-camera array with ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto. Assisting those lenses is a flash and time-of-flight sensor for focusing assistance.

While there is a hump, the housing is angled to help when reverse-folding the Duo 2's displays. Many people have wondered how it feels when used this way, and it was no issue. Odd? Sure. Does it prevent usage? Nah. Indeed, the device has a satisfying "clap" when switched to this position, with the lenses being slightly recessed to protect them. It's a compromise design, indeed, but arguably the primary complaint of Duo 1 was the terrible camera situation, which this solves.

Internally, there is still a front-facing camera (minus the flash) for selfies and, more likely, video calls.

The Surface Slim Pen 1 and 2 now magnetically stick to the front cover. While it seemed like you could do with Duo 1, it was only a side-effect of the device's magnets. This time, it is intentional, and the magnets are respectably strong (the Pen Cover's are even more potent).

Category Surface Duo 2
OS Android 11
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Network Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax (2.4/5GHz)
Bluetooth 5.1
LTE: 4x4 MIMO, Cat 20 DL / Cat 13 UL | Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac (2.4/5GHz)
Bluetooth 5.0
LTE: 4x4 MIMO, Cat.18DL / Cat 5 UL
SIM Nano SIM + eSIM
Network bands FDD-LTE: 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,12,13,14,19,20,25, 26,28,29,30,38,39,40,41,42,46,48,66,71
WCDMA: 1,2,5,8
GSM/GPRS: GSM-850, E-GSM-900, DCS-1800, PCS-1900
Display Single: 5.8 inches (1892x1344), 401 PPI, 4:3 aspect ratio
Dual: 8.3 inches (2688x1892), 401 PPI, 3:2 aspect ratio
AMOLED, HDR, 800 nits, 90Hz
Memory 8GB
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Camera Front-facing: 12MP, ƒ/2.0, 24mm, 1.0um
Rear-facing wide: 12MP, ƒ/1.7, 27mm, 1.4um
Rear-facing telephoto: 12MP, ƒ/2.4, 51mm, 1.0um
Rear-facing ultra-wide: 16MP, ƒ/2.2, 13mm, 1.0um
Audio Stereo speaker
Security Fingerprint reader
Ports USB-C 3.2 (Gen 2)
IPX Rating Yes, IPX1
Battery 4,449mAh
Fast Charging
Dimensions Open: 145.2mm (H) x 184.5mm (W) x 5.5mm (T)
Closed: 145.2mm (H) x 92.1mm (W) x 11mm (T at hinge)
Weight 284g
Color Glacier
Obsidian

The SIM tray is also now on the bottom edge and centered opposing the Type-C port. It's a single nano-SIM slot, although Surface Duo 2 supports simultaneous eSIM usage too, which is another change.

The side volume rockers feel untouched, which is OK. Microsoft correctly combined the power button and fingerprint reader into one, which makes more sense. It's an excellent reader too — fast, reliable. Double pressing that power button when Surface Duo 2 is closed enables the flash to be used as a flashlight; the same function launches the camera when the device is opened. You can turn this off in settings, but it's a crafty touch.

Audio is markedly improved. Whereas before the was a single speaker (in addition to the one for phone calls), there are now two (plus one for phone calls). Microsoft puts one on the top display on the left display, and on the right, it's at the bottom, which helps sound balance regardless of the Surface Duo 2's postures. It's an immersive effect when using both displays. However, on a Microsoft Team's call, they were unusually quiet compared to playing a YouTube video or listening to music on Spotify, which was loud and vibrant. The audio works well when the device is closed, too, and is intended to be used that way if listening to music with no worsening in quality.

NFC and Google Pay FTW.

Bluetooth jumps from 5.0 to 5.1 with AAC support. Many people had issues with Bluetooth on Surface Duo 1 with inconsistent and deteriorated performance. I had no such concerns utilizing Microsoft's Surface Earbuds, Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, and use with the Tesla Model 3. With the Buds 2, I could walk 25 feet into another room and still had audio playing without missing a beat.

There is now NFC built into the left display to be used for Google Pay. Simply reverse fold Surface Duo 2 with the device unlocked, and you can make a payment. It works as expected.

Being unlocked, Surface Duo 2 works on any network with 5G, although it lacks mmWave found on Verizon. 5G can mean anything from blazing fast speeds to slightly faster than LTE, depending on your carrier and location. Using T-Mobile in downtown Marlborough, MA, I pulled 39.9 Mbps down and 54.2 Mbps up, which isn't bad.

If I could rate Surface Duo 2's hardware, it'd get an A+. If you can get yourself to a Best Buy to try a display model, I encourage you to do so.

So good

Surface Duo 2: Displays and pen

Opening Surface Duo 2 and you're greeted with two 5.8 inches (1892x1344) AMOLED HDR glass displays that combine to form a larger 8.3 inches (2688x1892) one with 401 pixels-per-inch (PPI). That's an increase from last year's 5.6-inch display (8.1-inch total). It's noticeably larger. Those bezels are slimmer too. New this year is a higher 90Hz refresh rate, which, combined with the faster CPU, makes the whole device more responsive. You cannot disable 90Hz and drop down to 60Hz to save battery.

Peak brightness is a decent 800 nits, just enough to use outdoors in sunlight (below the 1,000+ nits of Samsung and Apple's latest). The screens are glossy, too, but easy to overlook due to the sharpness.

I don't want to mince words, and I'll just say these screens are tremendous. The color, contrast, and sizes make them nothing like any other device on the market.

While Fold 3 spans 7.6-inches with 374 PPI, the Duo 2's are larger (8.3-inches) and higher resolution (401 PPI). Samsung wins on the 120 Hz refresh, although I'd argue anything over 90 Hz has diminishing returns compared to the jump from 60 Hz. Plus, Microsoft uses glass displays versus Samsung's plastic.

The Duo 2's displays now curve inwards like how paper in a book bends, complementing the analogy that Surface Duo 2 is like a digital moleskin. The curves help in multiple ways and aren't just for looks. The effective viewing area between the two screens is now closer than the original Duo, with only 67 pixels being obscured down from 84 pixels letting you see more uninterrupted content.

Because the curved screens show a tiny portion when the device is closed, Microsoft utilizes this as a secondary external display called Glance Bar.

While not as effective as Samsung's outer screen, this Glance bar shows notifications for missed calls, SMS, and voicemails. It also displays a pulsing blue bar for an incoming call and uses a different animation for an incoming text. A green bar reveals the battery level when plugging into recharge, while a white bar appears when altering volume and playing audio. Hitting the power button turns on the bar indicating the current time and any missed notifications. It's an imaginative solution that helps the utility of Duo 2's odd form factor.

So curvey ...

Microsoft has not opened the Glance Bar's APIs up to third parties or other apps, but it told the press it is investigating the idea.

The Surface Slim Pen 2 is not included, although if you have a Slim Pen 1, you can use that too. While Slim Pen 2 supports haptics in Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Duo 2 does not, although Microsoft is studying it (translation: don't expect it).

Microsoft's new Glance bar in action.

I wish there were more to say about the pen. The Bluetooth button still does nothing. There aren't many Android apps that make use of it. Microsoft didn't ship Outlook and Photos with inking support for this review, although the latter looks very useful. I suppose Whiteboard supports it, but it's only open for EDU accounts, so I can't tell you anything about it. You can use the pen in OneNote, and Slim Pen 2 glides like a dream in it — it feels better than a Surface PC. But that's about it.

Microsoft should at least bring its Journal app over to Android if it expects anyone to take inking and Surface Duo seriously. And maybe another five apps. Samsung at least went all out with S Pen software, even if half of it is gimmicky. Right now, inking is still an afterthought on Surface Duo 2. Bummer.

These hybrid moments

Surface Duo 2: Software

Hardware was only part of the problem with Surface Duo 1. But it was software that really ruined the experience of the first device. A lot of that is on Android 10, which is not built for dual screens. Duo 2 at least ships with Android 11 and, when combined with that better hardware, delivers a much-improved experience.

Interestingly, Microsoft is now leaning heavily into gaming, photography, and having fun with Surface Duo 2 — something all downplayed or ignored with the first version. It's a good move.

New is the ability to choose specific apps to "auto span," i.e., open the app to the dual-display mode by default. Such a feature makes sense for Amazon Kindle, Microsoft Outlook, OneNote, and Google Photos. Found under Settings, users throw a toggle to enable or disable it for each app.

Amazon Kindle is amazing.

Gameloft is on board this year, with Asphalt 9 being preinstalled. But this version, along with Modern Combat 5 and Dungeon Hunter 5 (separate downloads), is now customized to support dual-screen usage.

I'm not a typical mobile gamer, but Gameloft nailed the concept here. Asphalt 9 displays a map of the race on the bottom screen along with touch controls. Dungeon Hunter 5 also shows the map, touch controls, and dialogue with NPCs. None of it feels superfluous — Gameloft gave serious thought to utilizing a second display and delivered. And it's not just main gameplay; all levels where you customize your character (or car), choose levels, etc., all use the second display in ingenious ways.

Microsoft heavily plugs its value-driven Xbox Game Pass with cloud game streaming. They're right to do so as there are now 113 premium games that people can stream to Surface Duo 2 that utilize on-screen touch controls. It's an impressive accomplishment. Don't like touch controls? Just pair up an Xbox One controller and put Duo 2 into tent mode.

There is still the ability to pair apps — launching two apps simultaneously, one on each display. I pair my FedEx + UPS apps (Shipping), Eufy + Ring (Security), Google Maps + Yelp (Food), as well as Slack + Telegram (Work) to catch up on content that's important to me with a single touch.

Perhaps the most impressive is Microsoft rebuilt the camera and photos apps. Whereas Surface Duo 1 was a terrible camera experience, Duo 2 fully embraces it. Launching the camera app, on the right side is the viewfinder (live image) and on the left is the camera roll. Snap a pic, and it quickly pops up on the left so you can review it. Tap the edit button, and that photo shifts to the right display, and now on the left, you have a whole editing suite. I was impressed with the edit functions, filters, and tools, negating my typical Google Photos or third-party apps usage. It's an excellent app.

New Camera and Photos app.

A standalone Microsoft Photos app is also part of OneDrive. By default, it shows all the on-device photos, separating them by camera roll, screenshots, and downloads where you can edit or share. With a single tap, you get access to all your OneDrive, shared files, and more. It worked seamlessly.

Microsoft reworked the notification shade to be wider and put in sliders for volume and display brightness. The idea is if you're using Surface Duo 2 in tent mode, you can now swipe and adjust the volume instead of lifting the device to reach the physical controls.

Swiping to the left, you get the "feed" area where news, weather, calendar, and other widgets are viewable. Weather and news widgets are updated to look more like those on Windows 11. Tapping a news item opens Microsoft's new Start app (rebranded News), which also now supports dual screens (browse the news feed on the left, read a story on the right).

There's "lift to wake" where the displays turn on if the device is opened but laying flat. Lift it, and the screens are awakened. All these Surface Duo-specific configuration options are now found under a subsection in Settings to find easily.

Surface Duo 1 (rear) vs. Surface Duo 2 (front).

Previously, Surface Duo would try to guess which screen you were looking at based on how you were holding the phone in single-screen mode, but that turned out to be too difficult to predict, causing user frustration. Folding Surface Duo 2 Microsoft defaults to the right display. It's the correct solution, and users can always double-tap the left display to override it.

But while the overall experience is much better with Surface Duo 2, there are still quirks and growing pains.

Outlook and the Photos app both support inking or at least will support them. At the time of this review, those updates have not been pushed to the press. The apps let you draw in your emails or sketch up a photo. They're probably great, but they're not here yet.

Paired apps, which always worked on Surface Duo 1, sometimes fail on Surface Duo 2 with one app not launching (or being slow to do so). I've also had the camera app launch strangely (with the viewfinder and camera roll on the same side). These oddities were rare, but it shows the difficulty with executing this form factor when you don't build the OS.

Google Maps paired with Yelp.

There's still some strange system behavior. Tap a news story in the Feed area, and it opens the Microsoft Start app (good), and it auto-spans as I've set it (also good), but it's not the default spanning behavior with the story on one side and news feed on the other. Instead, the story is split across two screens, making it difficult to read (weird).

New Notification shade & controls.

Actually, the Start app and feed areas are all a bit of a mess. Browsing news in dual-screen mode is OK, but as soon as you move to other sections in Start like weather, COVID, wallpaper, videos, etc., none of it is made for dual-screen usage. Even if you disable spanning for Start when you tap a news story in your feed (left side), Start opens on the left side too instead of the expected behavior (right side). This weird behavior happens for a lot of content in the feed area.

Amazon's Kindle app now requires less fiddling to work on dual screens (it's set up by default), which is excellent. But as soon as you leave the outstanding reading experience and head to the Kindle Store, the dual-screen setup falls apart. It's not a dealbreaker but is an excellent example of how apps can have these hybrid moments (cue the Misfits).

Though we're on Android 11, and it's a year after Surface Duo 1, none of Google's apps are optimized for dual screens (Photos works but seems to be more in tablet mode). Messages, Phone, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, YouTube TV, etc., still don't take advantage of the two screens despite Android 11 being better optimized for the form factor with improved dev tools.

Many of Microsoft's apps are enhanced for dual screens (OneNote, To Do, Office, Outlook, Calendar, Teams). Still, a few peripheral stragglers like GroupMe, LinkedIn, Authenticator, Translator, and Xbox do not, and others like Bing and Start, which are partially optimized.

There is also the more significant issue of gestures. I'm still of the belief that Microsoft's sensitivity setting for swipes is too low, meaning you need to be deliberate in the motion for it to register. If you want to make a fast gesture and slide quickly, you may end up with the wrong action. The number of times I've wanted the notification panel only to get search instead is innumerable. Microsoft should offer a gradient tool for users to tune display sensitivity (it does for the back gesture).

I didn't have any issues typing using SwiftKey (default keyboard), but I have heard from other reviewers who did, which may tie into what I think is the low sensitivity issue related to gestures. The bottom line is that for some people, touch feels a bit off on Surface Duo 2, a similar problem on Surface Duo 1. Hard to explain, likely just as hard to solve.

Likewise, for Microsoft Launcher, there is little else to report. There are still zero customization options with no themes, no ability to modify gestures, change icons, etc. It's a bit weird that Launcher has not gained any new functionality after a whole year and only modestly improved the experience.

Microsoft's Your Phone, which lets you wirelessly manage notifications, calls, photos, and more, works well, but the "new" version is not here yet. There is still no per-app streaming like how it works with Samsung devices and instead is still screen mirroring, which is not as effective or convenient.

Pretty darn fast

Surface Duo 2: Performance and battery

Surface Duo 2 packs the venerable Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 with 8GB of RAM and between 128GB and 512GB of storage. Apps fly open, switching is nearly instant, and it's like night and day between the previous model. I wouldn't mind 12GB of RAM, which is the standard for premium Android phones, but 8GB is a step up from 6GB in Surface Duo 1.

On Geekbench 5, Surface Duo 2 scored 1,098 on single-core and 3,476 on multi-core, whereas Surface Duo 1 only squeaked out 737 on a single-core score and 2,815 for multi-core. Comparatively, Surface Duo 2 blows past the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon 888), Galaxy Fold 3, and every other Android phone available today. For OpenCL (4,679) and Vulkan (4,411), Surface Duo 2 is ahead of all other Snapdragon 888 phones by a lot.

Turning to AnTuTu, which measures CPU, GPU, memory, and UX combined, Surface Duo 2 still does well but falls slightly behind Galaxy Z Fold 3. We can conclude that the CPU performance is exceptionally good with Surface Duo 2, whereas the overall performance is above average (beating 78% of other Android phones).

Battery life is decent but not extraordinary, although when you consider the processor and running dual 90Hz display, perhaps it is impressive. Over a 14-hour day with a 40-minute Microsoft Teams video call, 40 minutes of TikTok, and another 3 hours of general usage (email, notifications, Telegram, camera, Twitter, Slack), I had 15% battery left, putting screen-on-time near the 4-hour mark. Of course, that's not a controlled test with varying display brightness and workloads.

Over nearly a week of heavy usage, I was nearing close to 5 hours of screen-on-time with typical non-video call workloads (email, web, Slack, Telegram, SMS, phone, camera, Twitter, etc.) and often finished the day with 30% remaining battery. That makes this a daily-charge device and not multi-day.

Luckily, the quick-charge feature works remarkably well, gaining 16% every 10 minutes on the charger, or about 50% in 30 minutes.

Surface Duo 2 does not have Qi wireless charging, unfortunately. When asked, Microsoft is interested in the idea for future versions but already was tight on space with 5G, NFC, and a bigger battery. Maybe next time.

Surface Duo 2: Cameras

Microsoft packed three rear cameras onto the back, and while some may take issue with the look, as someone who used Surface Duo 1 for the last year, I'm not bothered in the slightest. The tradeoff in flat design for these cameras is worth it. Yeah, there's a slight wobble when it lays flat, but you can now take pictures of your pets or snap a pic at night and not recoil in horror.

The three cameras have the following specs:

  • Wide: 12MP, ƒ/1.7, 27mm, 1.4um
  • Telephoto: 12MP, ƒ/2.4, 51mm, 1.0um
  • Ultra-wide: 16MP, ƒ/2.2, 13mm, 1.0um

The megapixel count is on the low side these days as some phones like the RealMe GT Master Edition Explorer feature a 50MP Sony sensor, so zooming in brings out the pixels.

Microsoft enlisted Morpho, a Japanese imaging company that leverages AI and deep learning for photo processing. The results paid off. While the live image is often just OK, the post-processed photo has a nice balance of colors, exposure, and contrast. See for yourself in the gallery below (all images untouched):

The standard fare of camera features includes slow-mo, video, photo, portrait, and panorama. Even a new night mode takes a slightly more prolonged exposure that merges with shorter ones, as found on many Android phones. The overall experience is a considerable improvement over Surface Duo 1, which admittedly isn't saying much.

Comparatively, these cameras feel more on par with a mid-range phone from 2020, still falling behind Samsung and Apple's best in 2021, but it often holds its own against my iPhone 12 mini, which is more than I was expecting.

Photographing my cat, the Surface Duo 2 properly exposed the window and slightly overexposed Zoe. Whereas the iPhone got the window right but underexposed the subject. Neither photo looks impressive. But this is a challenging photo for any camera to master due to the intensely backlit scene (direct sunlight) and the contrasting coat of the cat (difficulty metering). I'll take the Duo 2's image over the iPhone's.

Low-light also does well, although you see more grain and noise than an iPhone 12 mini.

Video is satisfactory thanks to hardware image stabilization, and it can shoot 1080P 30 or 60 FPS and 4K 30 or 60 FPS. It'll struggle a bit in brightly lit scenes to compensate for exposure, but it's still miles ahead of Surface Duo 1.

The bottom line is compared to Surface Duo 1, Microsoft has made a terrific attempt at improving the camera experience. The new array on the rear may not be pretty, but I now no longer need to take my iPhone 12 mini as a secondary phone. It pales compared to top-tier 2021 flagship phones, but those phones also don't have dual screens, so there's that. I doubt anyone will criticize these pics being posted on social media for being of poor quality.

Not much else

Surface Duo 2: Competition

In many ways, Surface Duo 2 has no direct competition. There are no other dual-screen devices save for Surface Duo 1, trading around the $400 mark these days. While that phone is expecting Android 11 before the end of the year, no software can solve the limited hardware experience. Still, if you're looking for a "starter" dual-screen phone to use as an Android mini-tablet or superb Kindle reader, it could be fun as a secondary device.

Samsung's Galaxy Fold 3 is the next logical option and the overall safe bet. On the third generation, Samsung has mostly figured out the Fold 3's design and feature set. While the cameras haven't changed this year, the technology has around it, including support for the S Pen, which is welcomed. Still, the Fold 3 starts at $1,799 — $300 more than Surface Duo 2 — and there are still some questions regarding that folding screen and reliability (Samsung has a decent warranty, at least). To no one's surprise, battery life is also on the weaker side, but Samsung's software experience is more refined than Microsoft's.

Frustrating but good

Surface Duo 2: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You liked Surface Duo 1
  • You want a dual-screen phone
  • You want a device that sits between a phone and a laptop
  • You like the Microsoft ecosystem and Surface

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You don't do work on your phone
  • You don't like using two hands for your phone
  • $1,500 seems way too much
  • You need a bug-free software experience

There's a lot to unpack with Surface Duo 2. Let's start with the most controversial question: Why even use it? The advantages for a dual-screen should be obvious; if not, answer the following:

  1. Why have dual displays for a desktop PC?
  2. Why snap apps side-by-side in Windows?
  3. Why use a portable screen for your laptop when traveling?
  4. Why buy a phone with a larger display?

The answer to all these inquiries is simple: You can see more information and multi-task easier. That's the same principle behind Surface Duo, and it's why it resonates with so many people. It's not any more complicated than that; it's not a profound riddle. Conversely, you should also figure out that not everyone needs those above choices — some people like small phones or a single screen for their PC. That's OK too.

As far as its place in tech, Surface Duo 2 sits between a phone and my Ultrabook. That's its value — think of it as a pocketable laptop. When I have it, I'm far less likely to hop on to the PC to do work, manage socials, chat in Slack or Telegram, etc. Toss in reading (Kindle) and gaming (Xbox Game Pass, Gameloft), and you have a new way to experience the modern digital wonders.

I still believe Microsoft is on the right track with Surface Duo 2 and the theory that some people prefer a device like this. I'm one of them; I love the darn thing. And Duo 2 goes a long way in making up for the outdated specs and missing features found in the first version. As a fan of the concept, Surface Duo 2 is what I wanted for specs and design.

Where Microsoft is failing is the software and support. True, Surface Duo 2 is launching in a much better state than the first iteration, but people who bought Surface Duo 1 are still waiting on Android 11. That's simply not acceptable. There are also the bugs, occasional software glitches, and some missing animations with Duo 2 that many people will find off-putting. And what about Android 12? Is it going to be another year before Surface Duo 2 gets it? The company has a lot to prove to win over consumers and even fans. (Microsoft promises three years of updates for what it's worth.)

These kinds of questions make it still hard to recommend Surface Duo 2 for regular folks, although there are far fewer dealbreakers this time. Fans of Surface Duo 1 will be pleased with the new hardware, but Microsoft cannot simply sell this device to some hardcore devotees forever.

Should Microsoft continue with Surface Duo? Absolutely. Version 2 feels very much like the middle of a story — it's coming into focus, improving in many areas, and making a lot of progress — but more needs to happen to complete the tale.

Don't let anyone tell you differently: Surface Duo 2 is a huge improvement over the first model. But the actual Surface Duo experience is waiting for another chapter, making Surface Duo 2 a nice milestone but still a novelty for many.

If you're on the fence, you don't need to take my word (or any other reviewer's). Microsoft lets you try Surface Duo 2 for 60 days via its Surface Promise. Most people will know within a week if it's for them or not. If the price drops during that period, Microsoft will refund the difference upon request.

4 out of 5

As for me? I'm not giving up Surface Duo 2. My iPhone 12 mini is now on gym duty, and the Z Flip 3 will be sold off because I'm a convert, and I won't apologize for that.

Surface Duo 2

Bottom line: Surface Duo 2 is a significant improvement over the first-gen with much better hardware, attention to detail, and software that is significantly less buggy. There are still issues to solve, however, and the high price will keep many away.

From $1,499 at Microsoft From $1,499 at Best Buy

Dynamic Refresh Rate for Surface Pro 8, Laptop Studio begins to work

While not officially signed by Microsoft, Intel's latest drivers show that the new dynamic refresh feature is very close.

What you need to know

  • Intel's generic graphics for 10/14/2021 enable 'Dynamic Refresh Rate' for Windows 11.
  • The drivers let specific displays jump between 60 and 120 Hz automatically.
  • While it works on Surface Pro 8 and Laptop Studio, users need to install the drivers manually.
  • Once approved as stable, Microsoft will push the drivers out through Windows Update.

In June, we noted a new feature in Windows 11 called Dynamic Refresh Rate, which would allow PCs with high-refresh displays to jump dynamically between low and high-refresh based on scrolling, inking, or inactivity. We strongly hinted that new Surface products would likely embrace such technology, and sure enough, Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio both have 120 Hz screens.

Despite the underlying technology being present, Dynamic Refresh Rate is not enabled on either new Surface is something coming later via an update. Today, users on reddit spotted Intel's latest generic display drivers and noticed that upon installation, a new option now appears enabling this new display option.

We've confirmed on Surface Pro 8 that the new drivers add the option for dynamic refresh rate found under Settings > Display > Advanced Display > Choose a refresh rate. Instead of just 60 Hz or 120 Hz, there is now a third option for Dynamic (60 Hz or 120 Hz) that was not present earlier.

Users must manually install the new Intel drivers.

The feature seems to work quite well, although more testing is needed for stability and to see any oddities with the drivers.

The drivers need to be manually installed (extract drivers from the zip file, upgrade driver through Device Manager) as the .exe installer will not work.

Microsoft releases its own "Surface-approved" graphics drivers through Windows Update after it has signed off on the drivers as being stable. It also removes things like the Intel Graphics Panel, which is auto-installed with these drivers.

As a rule of thumb, most users should hold off until Microsoft releases its Surface-approved drivers. These new Intel ones could cause unforeseen issues, especially if someone picks the wrong driver to update or the drivers themselves cause a conflict.

However, the good news is it seems Dynamic Refresh Rate for Windows 11 devices (those with 90Hz or higher displays) is right around the corner. We'll likely see many more laptops announced in the coming months that support this feature, which improves inking (reduced latency) and makes scrolling and OS animations a bit smoother while also helping to mitigate the hit on battery life.

How to upgrade Surface Pro 8's SSD and which you should buy

Upgrading your Surface Pro 8's internal storage to a larger, faster drive is easy if you know what you're doing.

Perhaps one of the most significant and welcomed changes to Surface Pro 8 — besides Thunderbolt 4 and a 120Hz display — is the arrival of a removable SSD. While designed primarily for security concerns, regular consumers can take matters into their hands to upgrade the SSD to a larger size and even gain some speed. It's a fantastic feature since you can save yourself hundreds of dollars if you plan your Surface Pro 8 purchase and SSD upgrade.

But what about the details around such a procedure? What tools do you need? Should you re-paste the thermal enclosure for the SSD? And how do you get Windows 11 onto the new SSD?

All these questions and more are answered in this new guide on how (and why) you want to upgrade your Surface Pro 8's SSD. And if you have a Surface Pro X, we have a separate, but similar guide for that one too.

Time estimate for actual upgrade: < 20 minutes.

Jump to:

Why upgrade your Surface Pro 8 SSD?

Before we begin, let us discuss why you want to upgrade the internal storage to Surface Pro 8.

There are two reasons to consider, with the first being the most obvious:

  1. You want more internal storage.
  2. You want a (slightly) faster SSD.

The first reason is self-evident. You bought a Surface Pro 8 with 128 or 256GB of storage, and you want more. Maybe you want 512GB or even 1TB.

Indeed, you could buy the 128GB Surface Pro 8 ($1,099) and, for less than $200, get to 1TB if you upgrade it yourself. If you want Microsoft to preconfigure your 1TB option, you need to drop $2,199. It even works if you want that entry-level i7/16GB/256GB model ($1,599). Tossing in a third-party 1TB SSD costs you $1,800 versus $2,199 from Microsoft.

A faster SSD is less of a reason to upgrade and should be seen as a side benefit. Typically, doubling or even quadrupling your storage also improves the read and write performance due to the parallel nature of how flash storage is accomplished. Surface Pro 8's default SSD is, at best, mid-range by today's standards. Popping in more storage could yield +500MB/s improve sequential read scores, which does make everything feel just a smidge snappier.

Which SSD to buy?

Western Digital 1TB CH SN530 SSD for $117 — what's the catch?

Picking which SSD to get for Surface Pro 8 is the tricky part. It's different from buying a standard laptop SSD as Surface Pro 8 (and Pro X) use M.2 2230 PCIe SSD, which are much smaller. The market for such chips is also much tinier, hence why I can't just point you to Amazon and tell you to buy a specific model.

The easiest to recommend is a Toshiba/Kioxia BG4 M.2 2230 PCIe SSD. It gets excellent performance, and it just works. But, Toshiba does not direct-sell to consumers. Instead, it is an OEM part that must be purchased through business channels like Dell or on eBay if you are savvy. The key is to use the product SKU to find the version you want:

  • KBG40ZNS256G TOSHIBA BG4 256G PCI-E NVME 2230 SSD (CLASS 35)
  • KBG40ZNS512G TOSHIBA BG4 512G PCI-E NVME 2230 SSD (CLASS 35)
  • KBG40ZNS1T02 TOSHIBA BG4 1TB PCI-E NVME 2230 SSD (CLASS 35)

Assuming you want to increase the storage and get faster speeds, you will want to search for KBG40ZNS256G (256GB), KBG40ZNS512G (512GB) or KBG40ZNS1T02 (1TB). Pricing at the time of writing is around $30 for 256GB, $99 for 512GB and $200 for 1TB.

The good news is the 1TB option decreased from $300 at the end of 2020 to a more affordable $200 in October 2021. The bad news is that most sellers are from China or Hong Kong, so it could take many weeks to get your purchase.

But there is now another option in 2021 that wasn't available previously: Western Digital (WD).

This part gets even trickier. You could get a Western Digital 1TB drive costing between $117 and $170, making it even a better deal than the $200 Toshiba. Plus, many sellers are based in the U.S., meaning you can get the SSD in days instead of weeks.

For this guide, I bought a "new" WD 1TB CH SN530 drive on eBay for $170. I had it in my hands in three days after ordering.

The "CH" denotes something unique about these, which is they are often used in the Xbox Series X|S. That's why so many of them are listed as "refurbished" or "pre-owned."

But there's a catch with these drives — available storage — which some eBay sellers are upfront about, e.g.:

Please also note that the usable space for this drive is 867GB (rest of the space WD already allocated to overprovisioning so it is not accessible by the user. This is done to some extent on all SSDs).

The speculation here is that allocated space is used for Xbox Series X|S storage, and it can't be recovered.

A typical 1TB SSD usually has 952GB of available storage with around 913GB available after Windows 11 is installed versus the 823GB you'll have (with Windows 11) in one of these Western Digital drives. That's a loss of about 90GB.

On the flip side, if you're jumping from 128GB (available is less than 100GB) to 823GB, you're still getting a massive upgrade. Plus, you can save around $80 versus the Toshiba chip and often get it delivered faster. I can also vouch that the SSD performance is like Toshiba's, making a choice even more difficult.

Whichever route you go, you get a considerable storage upgrade and slightly faster speeds while saving money. The question is whether you need every GB and want to save even more money. The choice is yours.

Tools

There are only a few instruments needed to swap out the Surface Pro 8 SSD, but they are crucial:

Thermal paste, a prying tool, and rubbing alcohol are not obligatory as it depends on how detailed you want to be with the replacement. Microsoft ships its SSD in a metal enclosure for protection, functioning additionally as a heat sink. It uses a small amount of thermal paste sandwiched between the drive and the casing. SSDs typically do not produce that much heat (compared to a CPU or GPU), so the benefit is likely minimal.

Some people mount the M.2 SSD directly, but it may rattle due to the thinness without the enclosure. Users can add a shim to stop the rattle or put the new SSD into the old enclosure with (or without) adding the thermal paste.

For this tutorial, I will re-use the metal sleeve and re-paste the thermal compound.

Making a Windows 11 Recovery Drive

Since the replacement SSD does not have an OS, you will need to reinstall Windows 11 after the swap. The easiest way is to load Microsoft's official Surface Pro 8 recovery files to a USB drive, as this gives you all the necessary drivers for Surface Pro 8. Doing so restores Surface Pro 8 to its factory state.

The process is simple. We're going to wipe and configure the USB drive to be bootable and then copy over the Surface Pro 8 + Windows 11 recovery files to it. Here's how:

  1. Plug your 16GB+ USB drive plugged into the Surface Pro 8.
  2. Search for Recovery Drive and launch the application.

  3. Uncheck Back up system files to the recovery drive as it is not needed.

  4. Continue with the prompts to format and wipe the drive. This process configures the USB to be used as a bootable recovery drive for Windows 11.

  5. Download the 6.4GB of Surface Pro 8 Recovery Files by entering in your Surface Pro 8 serial number (you can find that serial in the Surface app on your device or printed behind the kickstand.)

  6. Unzip and extract all the Surface Pro 8 Recovery Files to the USB drive copying over any duplicates.

Put the thumb drive to the side for now, as it will be used after swapping the SSD.

Surface Pro 8: Swapping the SSD

Now that we have the substitute SSD and necessary tools, we can replace the Surface Pro 8's storage. Ensure you have backed up any files, photos, videos, or documents before removing the old SSD.

  1. Power down Surface Pro 8 (Hold the power button down.)
  2. Open the rear SIM/SSD panel found under the kickstand using a SIM tool.

  3. Use the T3 Torx screwdriver to remove the single screw holding in the SSD.

  4. Gently lift the SSD up at a slight angle and pull the SSD towards you (wiggle it back and forth.)

If you do not plan to re-use the SSD metal enclosure, you could slide in the new SSD and secure it with the holding screw. Once completed, move on to the next section on reinstalling Windows 11.

If you want to re-use the SSD enclosure (and re-paste it), continue to these steps:

  1. Using a thin prying tool or X-ACTO knife, gently tease apart the enclosure starting from each side. It's very thin metal.

  2. Remove the old SSD.

  3. Remove old thermal paste from the inner enclosure using rubbing alcohol and Q-Tips.

  4. Remove the label/sticker from the new SSD (if there is one.)

  5. Add a tiny drop of thermal paste to the top of the SSD (1/2 a pea.)

  6. Gently smooth the paste around the entire black area of the SSD.

  7. Put the SSD back into the enclosure and close it, lightly pressing the sides to crimp it in place.
  8. Reinsert SSD enclosure into Surface Pro 8, securing it with the single set screw.
  9. Replace rear enclosure door.

Do not add a lot of thermal paste as it is not strictly needed. Nor do you need expensive thermal paste, as this is not a high-performance CPU. You want a very thin layer when spread out, as too much paste defeats the purpose.

Once completed, you should save the old SSD. Since that SSD is just your old OS and files, it'll boot right back up, were you to reinsert it back into Surface Pro 8. If you send in your Surface Pro 8 for a Microsoft warranty claim because it breaks, you'll want to put back the original drive and keep your after-market purchase as you may not get it returned.

Surface Pro 8: Reinstalling Windows 11

Now that the new SSD is in place, you need to reinstall Windows 11. It is recommended to have Surface Pro 8 plugged in for AC power during this process (don't power it on yet until step 2 below):

  1. Insert the USB thumb drive into Surface Pro 8's Type-C port (either one.)
  2. Press and hold power and volume down (-) buttons at the same time.
  3. When the Surface logo appears on screen release only the power button.
  4. Continue to hold the volume down (-) key for 10 seconds until the recovery menu appears.
  5. From the blue Windows recovery menu choose your language.
  6. On the next screen, select Recover from a drive.

  7. Follow the rest of the prompts to reinstall Windows 11.

Reinstalling Windows 11 should take about ten minutes. Windows 11 now grabs the latest cumulative updates and drivers during the install. It'll be just like when you first turned on Surface Pro 8 with the entire "out-of-box experience."

Surface Pro 8 SSD Upgrade: Benchmarks

Upgrading the Surface Pro 8 with a 1TB SSD brought two enhancements. Storage size increased from ~197GB to 823GB, which is the main point of this upgrade. Additionally, storage performance increased, which is expected.

For context, read performance is what you experience when running Windows 11 and launching apps — basically, everyday OS operations. Write speed is when you write to disk to create large files, install apps/games, and transfer data, so you don't experience it as much.

My results may vary slightly from yours due to the randomization of input/output operations, but sequential read jumped from 2,390MB/s to 2,895MB/s — a net gain of 505MB per second. Sequential write also had a modest improvement going from 1,609MB/s to 1,993 MB/s — an increase of nearly 400 MB per second.

While sequential speeds did see a significant bump, random read and write did not, although they did slightly improve.

The improved performance is not earth-shattering, but the SSDs in Surface devices are never great, to begin with (Surface Laptop Studio being the single exception). So, any bit here helps.

The best part of this update is the value. If you can spare just shy of $200 for the drive and tools, you'll have made your Surface Pro 8 much more valuable as your primary PC. Good luck!

Surface Pro 8

Basically perfect

Bottom line: Surface Pro 8 finally hits its full potential with the all-new redesign for 2021. This model is a worthwhile upgrade with Thunderbolt 4, optional LTE, 120Hz display, new haptic Slim Pen 2, 11th Gen Intel, and a new graphite colorway.

From $1,100 at Microsoft From $1,100 at Amazon From $1,100 at Best Buy

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