Monday, January 4, 2016

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Review

The portable computer redesigned

Why should you care about the Surface Pro 4? It’s just another Microsoft tablet that’s mostly aimed at business users, and it’s very expensive. True – but it’s a real milestone for portable PCs. It takes an idea that computer makers have been trying to get right for years, and finally makes it work.

The Surface Pro 4 comes with Windows 10, while most tablets run mobile operating systems like Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS. There are plenty of apps available for those, but not Windows’ range of full-scale office, creative and specialist programs. Other Windows tablets are much bulkier than this, like laptops that have been chopped in half.

At 8.5mm thick and 786g, this is a proper tablet, thinner and not much heavier than the original iPad but with a broader 12.3in screen. Our model had an Intel Core i5 processor, similar to those normally found in laptops and desktop PCs. This needs a fan to cool it, so the Surface Pro 4 doesn’t quite have the ‘magic slab’ feel of an iPad Air. You’ll hear a soft mechanical whir that gets louder the harder it works.

You can save $100 and lose the fan by choosing a less powerful Intel M3 chip. The point of the i5 is that you get a fully capable PC. It wouldn’t be ideal for jobs like video editing, but web browsing and office tasks zip along very smoothly. We even managed to run 3D games by turning down their quality settings. With only 4GB of memory, you’ll see some delays if you run a lot of programs at once, and the 128GB of flash storage is only enough for a limited amount of files, photos and videos. Doubling those specifications increases the price to $1168 (Surface Pro 4 Bundle).

You’ll also need to consider buying the Type Cover ($160). It’s a floppy clip-on rather than a rigid laptop keyboard, but because the tablet has a built-in kickstand, it’s possible to arrange the two on your lap and type comfortably without a desk. The Type Cover also includes an excellent touchpad, so you don’t have to keep swiping the touchscreen.

One thing that doesn’t cost extra is the Surface Pen stylus. It’s not quite as sophisticated as Apple’s Pencil, a $116 add-on to the iPad Pro, but it does draw thicker lines if you press harder. The Pen works really well with Microsoft’s free OneNote software, which you can use to organise documents and web pages with your own scribbled notes. The display is so fine that you’ll want to set Windows 10’s display scale to 200 per cent, otherwise icons and labels will only be readable by ants. Colors look great, covering 97.5 per cent of the sRGB range; contrast is high, and brightness can be turned up to almost blinding levels

Besides an 8-megapixel camera on the back, there’s a webcam on the front that supports Windows 10's 'Hello' feature. This recognises your face, so when you look at the tablet it unlocks itself. A full-size USB 3.0 port lets you plug in accessories, and there’s a microSD card slot for extra storage. Decent speakers are built in. The supplied mains adapter has a spare USB port (omitted from the M3 model) to charge other devices. Once charged, our Surface Pro 4 kept going for just over seven hours, impressive for a Windows system.

We won’t deny it: unless you’re spending someone else’s money, the Surface Pro 4 costs too much. It also froze on us a couple of times, requiring a restart. But it does prove a tablet could replace your main PC.


2.4GHz Intel i5-6300U dual-core processor
• Intel HD Graphics 520
• 4GB memory • 128GB flash storage • 12.3in 2736x1824-pixel touchscreen
• 8-megapixel rear camera
• 5-megapixel webcam
• MicroSD slot
• USB 3.0 port
• 802.11ac Wi-Fi
• Windows 10 Pro • 292x201x8.5mm (HxWxD)
• 786g


The best Windows tablet so far. If you’re not tempted yet, just wait until something this powerful gets a bit cheaper

By Computer Active

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