The tablet is normally seen as a media consumption device and nobody has done productivity better than Microsoft’s Surface Pro series. The new Surface Pro 4 marks its 4th generation of its 2-in-1 tablet/laptop convergence device and it runs on the very latest Windows 10.
The current Surface Pro 3 to us is a breakthrough as it offers a full Windows experience in a true tablet form. It did live up to its “Tablet that could replace your Laptop” claim and the new one just raises the bar to a whole new level.
Size does matter and we’ve seen countless of 2-in-1 devices that are just too heavy for tablet use. The Surface Pro 4 now gets a larger 12.3″ display that does a higher 2736×1824 pixels resolution while maintaining the same footprint of 292.1mm x 201.42mm. As comparison, the Surface Pro 3 has a 12″ screen that pushes 2160×1440 pixels resolution. On top of that, Microsoft has made it even thinner at 8.45mm (Surface Pro 3: 9.1mm) and lighter from 766 grams (Surface Pro 3: 800g).
The front still gets a pair of stereo speakers and microphones while the top gets a 5MP front camera. Over at the rear, the camera gets bumped up to 8MP and it comes with auto focus. You still get a full sized USB 3.0, microSD card reader, headphone jack and a Mini DisplayPort, all encased in its Magnesium body that comes in Silver.
In the current Surface Pro 3, Microsoft had introduced a variety of Intel Core processors with various memory and storage options to suit every need. For the Surface Pro 4, the list is even more extensive with the latest 6th generation Intel Core processors. At the base level, they have opt for an Intel Core m3 processor instead of the usual i3 with a minimum of 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. For those who demand more power and have a loads of cash to burn, you can opt for the highest Core i7 processor with up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
Performance wise, the Surface Pro 4 is reported to be 30% faster than the Surface Pro 3 and 50% faster than the competing MacBook Air. No doubt it drives the price up to exorbitant levels and this is made worse with our current exchange rate. The full pricing for the Surface Pro 4 are as follows:
Intel Core M / 4GB RAM / 128GB Storage – US$899 (RM3,875)
Intel Core i5 / 4GB RAM / 128GB Storage – US$999 (RM4,306)
Intel Core i5 / 8GB RAM / 256GB Storage – US$1299 (RM5,599)
Intel Core i5 / 8GB RAM / 512GB Storage – US$1699 (RM7,324)
Intel Core i7 / 8GB RAM / 256GB Storage – US$1599 (RM6,893)
Intel Core i7 / 16GB RAM / 256GB Storage – US$1799 (RM7,755)
Intel Core i7 / 16GB RAM / 512GB Storage – US$2199 (RM9,479)
Intel Core i7 / 16GB RAM / 1TB Storage – US$2699 (RM11,635)
Moving on to what makes the Surface Pro 4 a laptop replacement is the keyboard. The new Surface Pro 4 Type Cover has been massively improved to provide a better laptop class experience and it is thinner than before. The keys have been redesigned with larger spacing in between like a laptop chiclet keyboard which is made quieter and comfortable to type on.
The trackpad meanwhile is 40% larger and it comes with a glass surface that tracks 5 multi-touch points. If you’re using a Surface Pro 3, good news for you as the new keyboard is compatible as well. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Type Cover is priced at US$129.99 which is about RM554.
With more players getting their hands onto styluses, Microsoft had introduced a newer Surface Pen. It boasts 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity (current Surface Pen: 256 levels) and it even comes with an eraser at the back. This replaces the secondary button on the sides, leaving just one for right clicking, while the eraser tip still doubles as a Magic Button which launches OneNote on a single click.
For the right feel and shade, there are interchangeable Pen Tips where you can swap from 2H, H, HB and B tips. It still connects via Bluetooth and with a AAAA battery, the new Surface Pen still lasts a whole year without charging needed in between. For storage, the Surface Pen now clips onto the slides of the Surface Pro 4 with the help of magnets. It sounds like a good solution but we’re not sure if it could hold on well with clumsy hands.
Overall, the Surface Pro 4 is thinner, lighter, faster and massively improved to steer you away from the traditional laptop. For those who work on the lap a lot, we are still unconvinced with the practicality of the kick stand but it is perfect when it’s used on the table. With the price tag of US$999 for the minimum Core i5 model, it is quite expensive compared to other similarly equipped laptops. If budget permits, this is still the best 2in1 hybrid tablet/laptop out there and it is more practical than Apple’s iPad Pro. It will be available at selected markets on 26th October with pre-orders available starting today. For more info, head over to the Surface Pro 4 page.