Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Will Microsoft’s new Windows wonder, with its excellent stylus, outstanding screen and creative software capability, be enough to woo digital artists?
Will this Windows wonder woo fantasy and sci-fi artists with its excellent stylus and creative software capability?
The screen resolution is very crisp. It’s bright too, with vibrant colour and you’ll have no problem outdoors
Price From £749 Company Microsoft Web www.microsoftstore.com
As touchscreens, graphics tablets and mobile devices begin to merge, all kinds of new options are appearing for artists. But it’s hard to pick out something prograde enough for the serious artist that’s also light on the wallet.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 certainly gets pro billing from its maker. It’s a 12.3-inch tablet that comes with a stylus, and because it runs Windows 10 it can also handle the likes of Photoshop and Painter.
What really shines about Surface Pro 4 is its screen. The resolution of 2,736 x 1,824 at 267PPI means it’s very crisp. It’s bright too, with vibrant colour, and you’ll have no problem using it outdoors on a sunny day.
The Surface Pen offers 1,048 levels of pressure sensitivity – four times better than Surface Pro 3’s pen, but half the pressure sensitivity of the Wacom equivalent. Whether you notice 1,048 levels of sensitivity is another matter. But the glide and traction feel smooth and natural when drawing. For an extra £10, you can order a set of tips meant to simulate 2H, H, HB and B pencil grades. B delivers greater friction for a softer graphite, while 2H translates to less friction and somewhat skates across the screen. Flip the pen around, and there’s an eraser on the other tip – a nice touch that you don’t get with Apple Pencil. There’s a tiny bit of latency when drawing, similar to the iPad Pro. When not in use the pen snaps neatly to the side of the tablet.
Surface Pro 4 won’t replace a toplevel Cintiq, but then it doesn’t cost over £2,000. If you want one to run Photoshop et al, you’ll probably need a Surface with Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage, at £1,049 (£109 more for a keyboard).
At this price and spec, Surface Pro 4 beats Wacom’s Cintiq Companion, which runs on Windows and runs Photoshop and Painter, but costs over £1,500. However, Surface gets stiffer competition from a similarly specced 12.9-inch iPad Pro at £949 (plus £79 for the Apple Pencil). For a tablet as your main device, on a budget, Surface Pro 4 is a great choice. However, for a secondary device, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro probably has the edge.
The low-glare screen is truly brilliant and lines are displayed sharp and crisp.
Microsoft has nearly perfected the glide/friction quotient with the Surface Pen.
The tablet boasts an 8MP rear-facing, auto-focus camera (1080p HD) and a 5MP front-facing, 1080p HD camera.
The Pro 4 comes with a USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort and microSD card reader.