The Surface Pro 4 (available at MicrosoftStore.ca) is the latest hybrid device by Microsoft, and it picks up and improves from where the Surface Pro 3 left off. In fact, nearly every aspect of the device has been improved to a point where I’m personally finding it to be a suitable replacement for a laptop… and then some. That’s a bold statement for a device who’s competitors continue to push out sub-standard hybrids (see some of our previous reviews) but having tried nearly all of them, I’m confident in that assessment*. (That asterisk will be addressed later in this review.)
Also, I want to fully disclose that I have partnered with MicrosoftStore.ca as a great destination to find a gift for your tech loving dad this Fathers Day! They have no influence on my overall review.
Surface Pro 4 Design
The Surface Pro 4 has a familiar look to the Surface Pro 3 with a few notable upgrades. Built of the same magnesium alloy body at 201mm tall and 292mm wide, the device is identical in size to its previous iteration but they have managed to trim the thickness down to 8.5mm (0.6mm thinner). They also cut a little bit of weight from the device to 786g on i5 and i7 models, and a further cut to 766g on the m3. The Surface Pro 4 features a single USB 3.0 input, a mini DisplayPort, the charging port and a MicroSD card slot on the right side, while the left side features a 3.5mm headphone jack and the default magnetized location for the pen. The top includes the power button and a volume rocker. On the back, you’ll find the kickstand along with an 8MP rear-facing camera, while the front features a 5MP camera.
The keyboard has been completely redesigned and improved – the keyboard is now better spaced and the new trackpad is upgraded from plastic to glass, and along with it performance. In my case, I’ve been using the Alcantara Signature Type Cover.
Surface Pro 4 Display
Despite retaining the same size dimensions, the screen is actually 5% larger (12.3″) on the Surface Pro 4 with a reduced bezel size. The screen quality is also much improved and now ranks among the best when you compare it to other screens on the market – 2736 x 1824 resolution delivers 267ppi, which, for those counting is one of the highest on the market.
In terms of the overall screen quality, it’s probably one of the best I’ve used. The black is true black, and the white is true white, while the colours are vibrant and accurate. sRGB coverage comes in at 99.7%, while the brightness tests show 382 nits. Simply put, my tests showed this display as fantastic, but to get the professional display test results check out DisplayMate, which lays it out as one of the best screens on the market (also highly energy efficient it seems.)
Surface Pro 4 Performance
The Surface Pro 4 comes in several different configurations including:
- M3, 128GB + 4GB RAM $999 at MicrosoftStore.ca
- i5, 128GB + 4GB RAM $1099 at MicrosoftStore.ca
- i5, 256GB + 8GB RAM* $1499 at MicrosoftStore.ca
- i5, 256GB + 16GB RAM $1949 at MicrosoftStore.ca
- i7, 256GB + 8GB RAM $1899 at MicrosoftStore.ca
Prices above are currently on sale and may differ depending on when you’re reading this post.
*While the M3 would be fine for a student or casual user, it’s clear the hardware would not be able to keep pace with a more rigorous user (such as myself). If you plan on doing any kind of Photoshop/video editing, then at minimum the 8GB, i5 is the one to look at. That configuration is the one I am using and I’m happy to report video editing is solid on it. I will actually be doing a follow-up post to show the experience and speed at which it responds to video editing and rendering. You will obviously get improved performance with each step up the chart, but I’ve been rather thrilled with the results thus far.
The graphics in the model I am using are Intel HD 520, and they handle some general gaming fairly well – Hearthstone runs smoothly at Medium Graphics settings while Minecraft on ‘fast’ settings hover around 30FPS. So, if gaming is your main usage – you should probably opt for one of the higher spec-ed devices such as the i7 build, or even take another step into the Surface Book realm. Some games, when you go to close them in Tablet mode, will crash – not entirely sure why, but at least it’s not while you’re playing the game.
Browser Experience on the Surface Pro 4
Chrome, as a browser continues to be a resource hog (when is it not…), so it’s not an ideal browser to use on the device I’m finding – instead, I’ve been spending a lot more time with the Edge Browser and it’s been a blessing in disguise. The ability to do rapid screenshots, write directly on the page I’m looking at and share those notes/annotations with anyone via email is both clever AND useful. As an editor of content, being able to add notes without needing to pull it into Photoshop/Word is fantastic…. Speaking of writing on the screen, I should also talk briefly about the Surface Pro 4 Pen, which is included with the device – a welcome addition in a world where everything is ‘extra’. The quality of the pen is greatly improved and is now capable of detecting 1024 pressure sensitivities. FreshPaint is also a really fun, updated “Paint” program… and while I’m no artist, even I was able to follow along with a little Bob Ross guidance and create something decent!
Surface Pro 4 Battery
The battery life on the device is rated for up to 9 hours of use – in my tests so far, that number falls somewhere between 6 to 8 hours of usage. That, of course, depends on what I’m doing with it. Word processing takes a lot less battery power than rendering HD video would – as should be expected. Speaking of the battery, the charger connects via a simple to use magnetic connection cable that just aligns itself perfectly when putting the connection near the port. On the charging block itself, it features a USB port that enables the charging of a second device such as a phone.
The Surface Pro 4 is by far the best hybrid device I’ve ever used – whether in tablet format, or in laptop format, the experience has been fast and fluid. My configuration of the device is capable of handling all the ‘business’ work I need to accomplish, from heavy text writing/editing to Photoshop to editing 1080p video and encoding them for YouTube. The graphics are less than ideal for gaming, which for someone who likes to productive is a good thing, and Edge is growing on me as a browser (taking over resource hog Chrome). The Surface Pro 4 has now become my main device while on the go, and when I don’t want to be tethered to my desktop (hello balcony, you’re about to become the Balcon-office).
With Father’s Day coming up (and you KNOW your dad needs an upgrade), check out MicrosoftStore.ca for some great tech like the Surface Pro 4. They also offer free shipping, free returns and 24/7 customer support, which means you can buy with confidence! Right now, the prices on certain Surface Pro 4’s are better than I’ve seen anywhere else online and a lot of the other products are better priced than other retailers too. Definitely worth looking at if you’re planning on buying something!