Microsoft not only presented the Lumia 950 series in Zurich on October 26th (you can read my Hands On & First impressions article here), but also the new Surface Pro 4. Valentin already got his extended hands on with the device thanks to a very nice Microsoft Store employe and shared his opinion here. Furthermore, he checked out the Surface Book (yes, I’m a little bit jealous ;)). In this article, I will let you know what I think about the latest tablet that can replace your laptop. Furthermore, I will share my first impressions of the new Type Cover and the Surface Pen…
Design & Build Quality
The Surface Pro 4 feels absolutely premium and sturdy overall – no surprises here. Furthermore, the kickstand worked just as expected.
In terms of design there aren’t many differences compared to the Surface Pro 3. Still, there are some noticeable changes: The physical Windows button on the front has been removed to make the bezels thinner and on the back there’s now the shiny Microsoft logo already found on the Surface 3 and Lumia 950 (XL). I never really thought the bezels around the Pro 3’s display would be too thick but after trying out the Surface Pro 4, the ones of the Pro 3 look quite thick… (have it here for a review at the moment). About that logo on the back of the device: When Microsoft debuted their new way of branding their devices on the Surface 3 I didn’t quite like it but now I actually really like it.
The Surface Pro 4 is surprisingly light (Core i5/i7: 786 gram; Core M3: 766 grams) for its size which makes it quite comfortable to use as a tablet as well. Together with the new Type Cover the Pro 4 just weighs slightly more than one kilogram.
The 12.3” display with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels (267 ppi) is just amazingly sharp. Colors look great as well and the display is just one of the best I’ve ever seen on a device of this size. Absolutely nothing to complain about here so far. I have to add though, that also the Pro 3 screen is just gorgeous in my opinion and I would be totally satisfied with that one as well…
Type Cover and Surface Pen
I wrote this part of the Hands On & First Impressions article on the Type Cover of the Surface Pro 3 and while I can write very comfortable on it – even though I was sitting in a bus at tat time and I had the Surface on my lap – I just have to say that the new Type Cover just once again is a huge improvement over the one I’m using. The keys are now more spaced out and the keyboard overall just feels even sturdier – this all results in a great typing experience. The trackpad on the new Type Cover is improved as well and is now 40 % bigger. This is definitely a nice change because I do have some problems using the quite small trackpad on the Type Cover of the Surface Pro 3 – still, I think I will get used to it. Overall I would say the typing experience is on a very high level with the new Type Cover.
Moving on to the Surface Pen. Also here Microsoft made some changes – for some those are improvements for others those are deteriorations. Probably universally viewed as an improvement is the increase in pressure sensitivity from 256 to 1024. While I have to admit I don’t really notice a difference (maybe I would if I had both devices here), it’s probably a huge improvement for professional artists. Furthermore, the button on the top of the pen now also acts as an eraser which works just great and really feels like an actual pen. I was really surprised and impressed! As mentioned before I’m using a Surface Pro 3 right now (full review is coming soon) and I got the old pen where there was another button on the side of the pen for the eraser and I read that some people out there preferred this over the new eraser placement. Personally, I have yet to find out what I prefer but I think this really depends on the situation: If you just have to erase one word I think the button on the side is more efficient since you don’t have to turn around the pen. On the other hand, if you have to erase many words I think the new pen is better since you don’t have to press that little button the whole time. In the end, the new eraser definitely feels more like an actual eraser and therefore more natural.
Overall I’m just very impressed by the new accessories for the Surface Pro 4 (and Pro 3)!
I couldn’t test this aspect during the limited time I spent with the device….
I did not try out the speaker either but given the fact that that they are located on the front right next to the display panel they should provide you with a quite good sound experience. So far I’m also totally happy with the speaker on the Pro 3 and I don’t think Microsoft did worsen that aspect of the device 😉
Of course the most exciting thing about the cameras of the Surface Pro 4 is the Windows Hello facial recognition. While I wasn’t able to test it out for my face I did see Windows Hello in action on the Surface Pro 4 but also on other OEM devices like the Acer Aspire V15 (I guess). I have to admit that I’m seriously impressed by the reliability (at least during that limited time) and even more by the quickness of this method of unlocking your device. It’s probably one of those features like double tap to wake up and Glance screen: If you once had it you don’t want to miss it again!
Unsurprisingly, the Surface Pro 4 runs Windows 10 and during the time I spent with the device I haven’t noticed any problems….
The Surface Pro 4s, which Microsoft Switzerland had on the event, were all i5 versions with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage and as expected everything run very smooth and fluid. Sadly, they didn’t have a Core M3 version – I’m currently thinking about getting this version of the Pro 4.
The Surface Pro 4 is a very impressive device: Build quality is outstandingly good, the display is just phenomenal, the new Type Cover is massively improved and the Surface Pen works just great and Windows Hello is very impressive. It seems like I will have to save some money…