Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pro 4

Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pro 4

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - by Ko­hWanzi

The Sur­face Pro 4 may look a lot like the Sur­face Pro 3, but it en­ters quite a dif­fer­ent mar­ket than its pre­de­ces­sor did slightly over a year ago. Back then, Mi­crosoft still had to work to con­vince cus­tomers that the line be­tween tablet and note­book was a false di­vide. Now, Mi­crosoft faces a dif­fer­ent kind of pres­sure – im­prov­ing an al­ready great prod­uct.

What Mi­crosoft has done is re­ally to make sub­tle up­grades to nearly ev­ery as­pect of the Sur­face Pro 3, while re­tain­ing the parts that peo­ple loved about it. The same im­pec­ca­bly con­structed mag­ne­sium al­loy body makes a re­turn, ex­cept that it is now thin­ner (8.5mm vs. 9.1mm) and lighter (786g vs. 800g) than be­fore.

But even though the length and width re­mains un­changed, Mi­crosoft has man­aged to in­clude a larger 12.3-inch Pix­elSense dis­play that is brighter than that on the Sur­face Pro 3 and has an even higher res­o­lu­tion of 2,736 x 1,824 pix­els. This main­tains the same 3:2 as­pect ra­tio as the Sur­face Pro 3, but boosts the pixel den­sity up to 267ppi (from 216ppi).

The 3:2 as­pect ra­tio is good for pro­duc­tiv­ity tasks like work­ing on doc­u­ments and spread­sheets, but less ideal for en­ter­tain­ment pur­poses like watch­ing movies. Still, the Sur­face Pro 4 is pri­mar­ily a busi­ness de­vice (it even ships with Win­dows 10 Pro), which is why Mi­crosoft is pri­or­i­tiz­ing work ap­pli­ca­tions above oth­ers.

Other im­prove­ments in­clude an up­graded 8-megapixel rear cam­era with aut­o­fo­cus, and a 5-megapixel front cam­era. The front cam­era ar­ray ac­tu­ally uses a com­bi­na­tion of the we­b­cam and in­frared cam­eras to sup­port in­frared fa­cial recog­ni­tion for use with Win­dows Hello.

There are no dif­fer­ences com­pared to the Sur­face Pro 3 in terms of port lay­out and se­lec­tion, al­though the vol­ume rocker has now been shifted to sit be­side the power but­ton. Other than that, there is the same se­lec­tion (and lim­i­ta­tions) of just one USB 3.0 port, one Mini Dis­playPort con­nec­tor, one mi­croSD card slot un­der the kick­stand, and a 3.5mm head­phone jack. The rev­ersible magnetic charg­ing

port also re­mains un­changed.

There's ac­tu­ally a rea­son why Mi­crosoft left ev­ery­thing un­touched but chose to re­lo­cate the vol­ume but­ton. That's be­cause it wanted to leave the left edge of the tablet bare in or­der to have a suit­ably flat area to which you could mag­net­i­cally at­tach the bun­dled Sur­face Pen. As it turns out, this works quite well and the mag­nets feel suf­fi­ciently strong with­out mak­ing it ex­ces­sively hard to de­tach the pen. Per­haps it is slightly more in­tu­itive to use the vol­ume rocker in its pre­vi­ous ver­ti­cal ori­en­ta­tion, but the con­ve­nience of be­ing able to at­tach the Sur­face Pen to the tablet's side more than makes up for this.

Our re­view unit came with a 6th gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i7-6300U pro­ces­sor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The base model starts with an In­tel Core m3-6Y30 pro­ces­sor, while the top model can be equipped with an In­tel Core i7-6650U pro­ces­sor with In­tel Iris Pro graph­ics. We'd ar­gue that the re­view unit's con­fig­u­ra­tion of­fers the best bal­ance be­tween price and per­for­mance. Un­less you in­tend to do some pro­fes­sional Au­to­CAD work, you're not go­ing to no­tice much of a dif­fer­ence be­tween the Core i5 and Core i7 pro­ces­sors in gen­eral use.

And de­spite its smaller 39Wh bat­tery, com­pared to the Sur­face Pro 3's 42Wh juice pack, the Sur­face Pro 4 lasted for 196 min­utes in our bat­tery tests, 16 min­utes more than its pre­de­ces­sor – no doubt thanks to the more ef­fi­cient Sky­lake pro­ces­sor. Over­all, the newer tablet was around 11 per­cent faster than the Sur­face Pro 3 in PCMark Home, and it even man­aged to edge out Ul­tra­books like this year's MacBook, the 13inch MacBook Air, and the Dell XPS 13 (with a 5th gen­er­a­tion In­tel pro­ces­sor).

But hard­ware up­grades aside, the new Sur­face Pen and Type Cover key­board are a big part of why the Sur­face Pro 4 is such a com­pelling im­prove­ment. The Sur­face Pen now comes with 1,024 lev­els of pres­sure sen­si­tiv­ity, up from 256 pre­vi­ously. The more nu­anced abil­ity to re­spond to dif­fer­ent pres­sures al­lows for a more nat­u­ral writ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and when com­bined with the dis­play's re­duced par­al­lax dis­tance and bet­ter touch con­troller, the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence feels quicker and bet­ter than ever.

Then there's the Type Cover key­board, which now comes with fa­mil­iar chi­clet-style keys found on the key­boards of many full-fledged note­books. The in­creased key travel dis­tance and key spac­ing com­bine for a far more en­joy­able typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. On top of that, the track­pad is now a larger, glass af­fair, which is a lot smoother than pre­vi­ous ver­sions. Fi­nally, Mi­crosoft has also used a dif­fer­ent ma­te­rial for the key­board to make it more re­sis­tant to grease stains and smudges.

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