The new Kaby Lake-equipped Surface Pro is an incremental update on the Surface Pro 4. It has Intel’s latest processor and a healthy improvement to battery life, but it doesn’t include USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.
But Type-C connectivity may be coming later in the year. Panos Panay, vice president of Surface, told the Verge that the company was working on a dongle for the Surface Pro and the Surface Laptop to add Type-C connectivity. The dongle will connect to the Surface Connect port—the magnetic port used to connect to the charger and to the Surface Dock—and will support both charging from Type-C chargers and connecting to Type-C peripherals.
The Surface Connect port also supports display output—Microsoft’s own Surface Dock includes display connectivity, as well as Ethernet, USB, and power—so in principle this dongle could also support USB Type-C’s Alternate Modes, allowing the use of Type-C cables to connect to Type-C monitors.
There’s no release date, price, or even pictures of what this dongle will look like, with Panay saying only that it will come later in the year.
Panay took pains to make clear that he’s not a Type-C hater, telling the Verge “I love the technology in Type-C, I believe in Type-C.” So why isn’t the technology included in the Laptop or the new Pro? He offered a range of reasons: there’s still some confusion over different chargers and cables, he didn’t want to remove the still ubiquitous Type-A, and he also said that when chargers are mutually compatible people tend to lose them. When the charger is specific to a device, apparently they don’t.
These feel like reasonable arguments against abandoning the older ports entirely, though they seem a bit less convincing when it comes to adding a Type-C port or two in addition to the Type-A and mini-DisplayPort ports already on the machine.
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