The "1-Minute" Review
- Type Cover sold separately
- Poor battery life
- Core package comes with lower processor than the Pro 3
When Microsoft released their first Surface, critics and consumers alike were excited by the idea but disappointed with the end result. Now onto the fourth iteration however, the Surface series has seen huge upgrades to the hardware and continued to receive some subtle design updates.
The tablet sports the same all-magnesium unibody as its predecessors and almost the same dimensions at 7.9 x 11.5 inches. It just so happens to be slightly thinner at 0.33 inches and a bit lighter as well at 766 grams. While light, critics add that it does get a bit uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time when used as a tablet.
A closer look revealed to reviewers that Microsoft also managed to trim the bezel around the screen despite the fact the display on the Pro 4 is larger than the Pro 3 at 12.3 inches. But the screen is more than just slightly larger, it packs in more pixels as well. With a resolution of 2736 x 1824 it offers a pixel density of 267ppi, which is higher than its main competitor – the iPad Pro. The high resolution naturally offered testers a very crisp and sharp experience whether they were reading text, viewing images or watching movies.
Reviewers especially loved how little air gap there was between the screen and the Gorilla Glass 4 coating thanks to Microsoft's patented PixelSense technology. Not only did this provide them with a great viewing experience, it also offered responsive touch and, when combined with the Surface Pen, incredibly pressure sensitivity.
Besides this the display also managed to impress with its wide range of colors, deep blacks and brilliant whites. That said, some critics did notice slight color inaccuracies though they add it wasn't too obvious.
The Pro 4 comes in several different models, but the core unit comes with an Intel Core M3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB hard drive. Most consider this a slight downgrade as the M3's clock speed is lower than that found on the base i3 chip of the Pro 3.
Most reviews we found were of the mid-range option: a 2.4GHz dual-core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive. This model, when run through their benchmark tests, performed well ahead of many notebooks and almost as good as the MacBook Pro with Retina. Their real world tests backed up the results as well.
Critics describe the performance as snappy and speedy though not noticeably faster than its predecessor.
The biggest letdown was battery life. For the most part experts were only able to get around five to six hours of continuous use even with the brightness set lower. This meant they were not able to go a full day without a charge, something many tablets and laptops are able to do.
The biggest improvement comes from the upgraded Type Cover. Engadget goes so far as to call it a revelation and states, "It finally brings a killer keyboard to the Surface lineup."
It is all around a larger device, but the additional weight and size comes with its benefits. Though thicker, it was found to be much sturdier and more rigid than its predecessor, which allowed for better overall key feedback. As well, the additional width allowed Microsoft to put more space in between the keys. This, suggests reviewers, offers a far easier and more enjoyable typing experience.
Combined with the larger, glass-backed trackpad they describe the new Type Cover as a "joy" to use.
The biggest downside is that the Type Cover does not come bundled with the Pro 4. It needs to purchase it separately.
What the tablet does come with is the Surface Pen. The latest pen now has 1,024 levels of pressure and an eraser on the opposite end. It was designed to feel more like a pencil, something critics appreciated as it was far more comfortable and intuitive to use.
For Microsoft, the fourth time seems to be the charm.
Reviewers were blown away by the Surface Pro 4's improvements and performance. Still, they find it hard to recommend for everyone especially at its price point.
Digital Trends states, "…anyone looking at the Surface still needs to ask themselves if a single do-it-all device is really needed. For some, the Pro's enhanced portability is never going to make sense. But those looking to lighten their load will fall in love…It's the best 2-in-1 PC Yet."
Gizmodo states, "It's a great second device to take anywhere and so some fun half-productivity, half-creative work...If refinements were made to make Windows 10 just a bit more touch-friendly…it would be a…true laptop killer."