Tablets

Best Hybrid Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Tablet

Pros

The Surface pro has improved specs; larger screen and thinner and lighter frame than its predecessors.

Cons

Keyboard – You have to pay extra for the optional keyboard since Microsoft doesn’t offer it as a default package deal.

Verdict

A list of noticeable refinements in features and design make the Surface Pro 4 a force to reckon with and a gold standard in Microsoft’s line of tablets destined to replace your laptops. Its price is also attractive and solidifies easily in many categories such as best business and college laptops.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is among Microsoft’s leading Windows hybrid laptop. Scratch that, the Microsoft Pro 4 is the leading in Microsoft this year 2016 in Microsoft Windows hybrid tablets and with this iteration shows Microsoft’s ambitions to not only thrive, but lead in this ever diversifying market. With a 6th Gen Intel Core available in m3, i5, and i7 processors– is quieter, cooler, and is now even more efficient than ever before. Noticeable upgrades from the Surface Pro 3 include a screen resolution boost from 2160×1440 pixels to 2736 x 1824 pixels, a subtle reduction in weight (from 1.8 to 1.7 pounds), and an increase in RAM from 4GB to 8GB. From the sound of that, that doesn’t sound like much. But that subtle change makes the Pro 4 clearer, lighter and faster. Microsoft calls the surface Pro the tablet that can replace your laptop. And what that means is that it is a tablet but packs all the hardware goodies to support an ordinary Windows laptop – with Windows apps and software. All that with a Windows cover that doubles up as a keyboard (optional).

Display and Features

So is it any better now than before and what aspects of the Pro are fit to replace your laptop? Well, a quick history of its debut is fit to answer this question. New in the market place in 2012, Microsoft Surface line was sort of a mockery, and if praised, just by a few. The first in the line of the Microsoft Surface line was run on Windows RT and was burdened with the gruesome ineffectiveness of Windows RT. The first Surface Pro was a compact 4.2 pound device – rather heavy for a device meant to replace your laptop – that ran on Intel Core i5 and storage problems (128GB hard drive). The Surface Pro 2 had a noticeable spec bump (boosted Hard drive to 256GB) and cut weight to 2.8 pounds – still a little hefty. But it wasn’t until 2014’s Surface pro 3 that things got a little spicy and the saw the inception of the idea of having a tablet replace your laptop.

The Surface Pro 3 was my favorite Microsoft of its year. It saw the flagship of touch screen and diversified the art of craftsmanship at Microsoft – which brings us back to where we started. The Surface Pro 4 is a spec improvement of the latter and does everything it Pro 3 did better.

The display is now 12.3 inches from 12 inches of its predecessor, with a PixelSense screen and 3:2 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio is best as it only compares to the standard A4 sized paper. With that, anyone can read comfortably on e-books and PDFs.

A resolution bump to 2736 x 1824 pixels for better viewing angles and improved color gamut. It’s an unconventional resolution when you think of the common 4K resolution or 1080P resolution we’re used to but works efficiently all the same. It also comes with the Surface Pen Tip Kit for mark-ups, taking notes, signing documents or drawing (great for animators). The pen is based on the new NTRIGUE Technology Microsoft bought which works to make the laptop screen thinner and sensitive to pen strokes. The pen has a flat edge along one side to allow it connect magnetically to either the left or right side of the screen. It is powered by pushing the almost-like eraser button; which on pushing brings forth the OneNote app – Microsoft’s designated app for pen input. OneNote can sync with Android, iOS phones and devices to further increase your cross-platform reach. Worth noting though is, the pen is sold separately so you have to prepare for that extra cost.

Now for all those skin deep gamers, can you game with the Surface Pro 4 you ask? Well, let’s talk about that. Fitted with the 128MB Intel HD Graphics 520 Card this laptop isn’t meant for gaming, but don’t let that discourage you as it can play a few low graphic games.

Performance

Moving on, the Surface Pro boasts of a Processor Intel Core i5, 128 GB Flash Memory, 8GB RAM and Windows 10 Pro; that solidifies the full potential of its form. Furthermore, for all those in need of a better yet performance, Microsoft allows you to get the advanced Core i5 with sixth generation Intel core – codenamed Skylake. Of course this comes at an extra cost with included bump of 8GB RAM and 256 GB storage.

Now, with all these ground breaking strides the Surface line is the design leader. No wonder Apple’s upcoming iPad Pro and Google’s Pixel C tablets are the ones setting their eyes on Microsoft’s design. If need be, you can also jump into a higher configuration and in the Surface Pro 4 Core i7 processor that has a bigger hard drive and storage.

Keyboard

The Pro 4 keyboard is nothing short of an engineering feat – just as much like the previous pro 3 was. It has an impressive keypad that doubles up as a Type cover that magnetically attaches to the bottom of the screen via a hinge; interestingly you can fold it over to cover the screen when work is done. The cover is lightweight, folds easily and is easy to use. Don’t be fooled though. You will have to pay separately for it even though when advertised it seems part of the deal. For me its exclusion is still something of a puzzle I’m yet to figure out. If detachable keyboard doesn’t impress you at all, you can as well consider diving into the newly released Surface Book laptop which is boarder-line laptop and tablet.

The surface Pro 4 has a Battery life of 10 hours, ideal for travel or business since it can last while being away from charging stations. Also has a Rear Webcam Resolution of 8 MP for all those with desire of capturing moments at seconds notice.

Other Specifications

  • Screen Size 3 inches
  • Max Screen Resolution 2736 x 1824 pixels
  • Processor 3 GHz Core M Family
  • Wireless Type 11abg
  • Number of USB 3.0 Ports 1
  • Average Battery Life (in hours) 10 hours
  • Item Weight 7 pounds
  • Product Dimensions 2 x 9.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Item Dimensions L x W x H 17 x 9.21 x 1.58 inches
  • Color Silver
  • Rear Webcam Resolution 8 MP
  • Batteries 1 Lithium ion battery.

Things I loved

One of the most considerable improvements to the Microsoft Pro 4 is the Kickstand. Unlike its predecessor, this kickstand can be adjusted to any angle between 22 and 150 degrees. It is stiff enough and doesn’t move when you’re writing, drawing which is remarkable. It sort of allows you to forget you’re using a tablet.

Things I hated

While the Surface Pro is in more than one ways better than any other Microsoft tablet in its line, Microsoft ought to have included the keyboard into the tablet package without having to pay extra for it. The Type cover is an integral part of the Surface system and it doesn’t feel natural not having it there.

Conclusion

Microsoft boasts the Pro 4 as the tablet to replace your laptop. Is it? No, I think it’s just a ripped version of a tablet that is trying hard to be a laptop – the Surface Book is more of a laptop in that debate. Considering that for an entry price, you get a Surface Pro tablet with an Intel Core M3 CPU, 128GB SSD, Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, plus a Surface Pen Tip Kit that magnetically attaches to the side of the screen; I think that is a great deal. For that reason, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 receives the Editor’s choice award and rating of 4 out of 5.

Comparison with older models

Microsoft Surface 3Microsoft Surface Pro 4Microsoft Surface Book
Run desktop software just like a laptop
Write and draw directly on your screen with Surface Pen
Windows (features vary by device)Windows 10Windows 10 ProWindows 10 Pro
Microsoft OfficeLimited time offer. 1-year of Microsoft Office 365 PersonalOffice 365 30-day trialOffice 365 30-day trial
Screen size / resolution10.8″ / 1920 x 128012.3″ / 2736 x 182413.5″ / 3000 x 2000
Weight (without Type Cover)1.37 lbs1.69 lbs3.34 lbs including keyboard
Battery life (Battery life varies significantly with settings, usage, and other factors)Up to 10 hrs of video playbackUp to 9 hrs of video playbackUp to 12 hrs of video playback
PortsFull-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader, Micro USB charging port, Cover port, Headset jackFull-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader, Cover port, Headset jack, Surface ConnectTwo full-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Full-size SD card reader, Headset jack, Surface Connect
Surface PenSold separatelyIncludedIncluded
Type Cover / KeyboardSold separatelySold separatelyIncluded