I have spent the last month using Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4. It is a great machine and yes it can replace your laptop, which makes it the perfect business tool as well as travel companion.
Pros: Light and portable, works well as both a laptop and a tablet, type cover and pen work very well, has a large screen with high resolution, includes Intel’s latest processor.
Cons: It’s expensive, but considering you are replacing both a laptop and a tablet with one machine, plus the functionality and portability the Surface Pro 4 provides, I still recommend it.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is a high end tablet/laptop hybrid. It is wonderfully designed, user friendly, and easy to take from home to work and use while travelling too.
Design and Display
The Surface Pro 4 has a silver all magnesium uni-body casing. It is lightweight (weighing only 766g), smooth and surprisingly comfortable to hold for its size of 12.3 inches. There is an adjustable kickstand on the back as well. The kickstand is also sturdy enough to stay in whatever position you put it in, even when using the type cover, or touching the screen. It is very well constructed.
The Surface Pro 4 has a USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader and connection, and a magnetically connected charger (which is great for people like me who tend to kick wires around the desk, so instead of bringing down the whole device, the charger will detach.) I wish all my devices had that magnetically connected charger feature. It takes the Surface Pro 4 roughly 2 1/2 hours to fully charge from an empty state. The Surface Pro 4 has a magnetic connector at the base, which is where you attach the Surface Type keyboard cover. On the left hand side at the top, you will find the 3.5mm audio jack, the volume rocker and the power standby button.
The Surface Pro 4 has a 5.0 megapixel front-facing HD camera and a 8.0 megapixel rear-facing auto focus camera with 1080p HD video recording capability.
As I mentioned earlier the screen is 12.3 inches and features Microsoft’s PixelSense™ Display. The resolution is 2736 X 1824 (267 PPI) and has an aspect ratio of 3:2 which makes it perfect for business use and for using Office 365. The screen is very bright, clear and the colors are true to life. The display on the Surface Pro 4 is better than the Macbook Air (which is 128 ppi for the 13-inch screen) and the 12.9″ iPad Pro (264 ppi).
The screen is beautiful for watching movies, looking at photos and also for working on business presentations. For the creative types out there it is also wonderful for creating artwork with.
The Surface Pro 4 comes running Microsoft’s Windows 10 Pro and it does not have any pre-loaded bloatware, that you may find on competing laptops or tablets. For business people you can create, edit, and share documents in Microsoft Office. Also, the Surface Pro 4 runs all of the professional-grade software you could possibly need, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Citrix, AutoCAD, and Visual Studio.
Windows Hello is a feature that certainly stands out on the Surface Pro 4. It basically lets you login to your Pro 4 using facial recognition technology which can be enabled after you have set a PIN to login. Once set, logging in using Hello is near instantaneous.
Surface Pen and Type Cover
The Surface Pen is included with the Pro 4 and feels a lot like holding a pencil as it has a flat side. The flat side is coated with thin magnetic strips which allow it cling to the Surface Pro 4’s left side. The magnet is powerful and the Surface Pen stays in place when the Pro 4 is thrown into my over-sized purse.
The Pro 4 Surface Pen can recognize a staggering 1,024 pressure levels. There are various nib options as well; the bundled all-round HB tip, sketching focused B tip, the H tip for technical drawing, and the 2H tip for scrawling speed.
The Surface Pen also features palm-detection technology. This technology instructs the Surface Pro 4 to ignore everything but the pen’s inputs when the stylus is near the screen. This means that you can rest your palm on the screen when sketching or taking notes as you would on a normal piece of paper.
The Surface Pen also sports a new, and surprisingly functional, eraser button on the top that also offers up three unique use cases. In addition to opening OneNote with a single press, the button now takes a screenshot and then opens OneNote with a double press. A long press opens up Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana.
The Surface Pen, coupled with Mircosoft’s PixelSense™, offers the best stylus experience that I have ever tried to date.
The Type Cover still has to be purchased separately unfortunately. It is rigid, well built and has a quiet surface when typing. The keys are also individually backlit and are a good distance apart from one another. I had no issues using the Type Cover and found it to be accurate and responsive, as well as the track-pad. It is because of the Type Cover that you can replace your laptop with the Surface Pro 4.
The Surface Pro 4 can handle any task, while seamlessly pairing with your existing IT infrastructure at work. The Surface Pro 4 is built with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip for security, and is protected by enterprise level encryption. You can also use BitLocker, new Enterprise Data Protection, Trusted Boot, and Windows Defender for malware protection and data privacy. IT can set up the Surface Pro 4 like other PCs, by joining it to a domain and managing it using tools already in place like Active Directory, SCCM, and Air Watch. It runs all the same business software that you currently use.
Business related tasks such as working on word, excel and editing photos are tasks that the Surface Pro 4 performs with ease. It’s a great device for multi-tasking with and I did not face any lag or slowdown, no matter how many applications or Chrome tabs I had open. The Surface Pro 4 just gets the work done.
The battery life for the Surface Pro 4 easily lasted me an entire work day. I used it for email, using Microsoft Office Suite, checking social media feeds, browsing the web and an occasional YouTube video or two.
The battery drains faster with more demanding tasks, such as watching a streaming movie or playing games.
The Surface Pro 4’s stereo speakers with Dolby Audio are not bad and considered above average for a laptop or tablet. The are decent enough to watch movies with, when sitting in front of the Surface Pro 4. They don’t sound tinny and for my daily use are quite adequate.
Overall Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is an incredible piece of machinery. I can easily use it at home, at the office and on the road. It can do everything that I would need a laptop and tablet to do, all rolled up into one. It’s the perfect laptop replacement!
Disclosure: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 products mentioned in this post were on loan by Microsoft Canada.