Microsoft’s Surface Pro line improves in its fourth generation for those after a premium-priced Windows tablet/laptop hybrid. Read more…
The fourth generation of Microsoft's Surface Pro remains one of the most capable Windows tablets on the market.
The Surface Pro 4 marks Microsoft's fourth crack at the premium tablet market, maintaining the tech manufacturer's focus on delivering the full Windows experience in a lighter, more portable device than a regular laptop. Available in a wide range of configurations geared towards different performance needs, the Surface Pro 4 is one of the few Windows tablets still on the market, with manufacturers like Dell and Samsung shifting to 2-in-1s or turning to Android-based tablets instead.
This gives the Surface Pro 4 something of an edge in the tablet space as it is capable of running any Windows apps and programs that a full-blown PC can. However, at the same time, it lacks the grunt of a dedicated laptop, especially when running graphics-intensive programs. This limits its viability as a complete laptop replacement, something that Microsoft has itself acknowledged with the release of the more powerful Surface Book.
Nevertheless, the Surface Pro 4 remains one of most capable tablets currently available, and thanks to its multiple configurations, it's able to serve a variety of needs and budgets.
How do the different configurations of the Surface Pro 4 compare?
Microsoft sells the Surface Pro 4 in multiple configurations of processor, RAM, storage and, of course, price. Available processors are the sixth-generation Intel Core m3, the Core i5 and the Core i7, while RAM comes in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB options. Storage ranges from 128GB up to 1TB, but the latter option is only available combined with the i7 processor and 16GB of RAM.
When comparing these configurations, it's necessary to consider what you'll be using the Surface Pro 4 for. At the low end, a Core m3 processor and 4GB of RAM is going to be enough for most basic web browsing, office tasks and general computing needs, but you'll feel its limitations if you want to do any serious photo or video editing.
With a Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, however, few tasks are beyond the Surface Pro 4's means, with both data-crunching and image-editing well within its capabilities.
The only area where all Surface Pro 4 configurations falter is in 3D graphics. Graphical processing is handled by onboard Intel graphics chips, and while they can cope with 2D games and basic 3D applications, you won't be getting any serious gaming done on a Surface Pro 4.
Surface Pro 4 review
What are the Surface Pro 4's defining features?
The Surface Pro 4 boasts a 12.3" PixelSense display with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 and a pixel density of 267ppi. These impressive specs deliver a sharp image with a level of contrast designed to mimic the clarity of printed text.
At just 766g for the Core m3 version and 786g for the Core i5 and i7 versions, Surface Pro 4 is a lightweight device well-suited for taking on the go. Despite its 12.3" screen, it's a mere 8.45mm thick, ensuring it can slide into most bags with little hassle. And because it doesn't require the keyboard of a full laptop, it lends itself to use in tighter spaces like on public transport or during long budget plane flights.
Compared to many other tablets, the Surface Pro 4 has an impressive range of connectivity options, boasting a full-size USB 3.0 port, a mini DisplayPort for connecting to an external monitor and a microSD card reader for transferring files off digital cameras and other portable devices as well as boosting the internal storage capacity of the Pro itself.
At the same time, having just a single USB port limits the Surface Pro 4's viability as a full-blown laptop replacement. To connect more than one USB device at a time, you'll need to purchase an external USB hub or spring for Microsoft's Surface Dock, though you'll lose some of the Pro's portability in the process.
Microsoft sells three key accessories for the Surface Pro 4: the Surface Pen, the Type Cover and the Surface Dock.
The Surface Pen is a digital stylus that allows for writing and drawing directly on the Surface Pro 4's screen. It supports multiple tips of varying sizes and friction levels based on real pencils, and its reverse end acts as a rubber eraser for quickly undoing erroneous brush strokes. The original Surface Pen featured 1024 pressure points, while the latest model has upped that to 4096 pressure points for increased control over the thickness of lines. You won't have to worry about messing up your sketches by resting your hand on the Surface Pro 4's screen either since the Pro can tell when you're using the Surface Pen and will ignore any smudges your hand might have caused.
The Surface Pen is sold separately from the Surface Pro 4 and currently retails for $139.95.
The Surface Pro 4's Type Cover is a hybrid cover and keyboard designed to provide a more laptop-like experience with the Pro. It features a full QWERTY keyboard complete with a row of function buttons plus dedicated buttons for brightness, Windows shortcuts and other media operations like play and pause. The built-in touchpad includes a right-click button and is larger than previous iterations of the Type Cover. Coupled with the Surface Pro 4's integrated kickstand, the Type Cover allows the Pro to function much like a traditional laptop, although you will notice the difference in stability when compared with a regular laptop's fixed hinge.
The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover is sold separately at a price of $249.95.
The Surface Dock is a brick-shaped unit that expands the connectivity of the Surface Pro 4 with additional USB, video, network and audio ports. Connecting via the included magnetic SurfaceConnect cable, the Surface Dock sports two mini DisplayPorts for hooking up external monitors, four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port and one 3.5mm audio out port. All that extra connectivity comes with a caveat, though, as the Surface Dock requires its own dedicated power through the included external power supply.
The Surface Dock is sold separately from the Surface Pro 4 for $299.95.
Because you can connect any regular USB device to the Surface Pro 4 through its full-sized USB port, standard PC accessories like USB mice, hard drives, printers and other peripherals are all fully compatible.
How long does the Surface Pro 4's battery last?
With as much power as the Surface Pro 4 packs, it's both surprising and impressive that its battery remains just as strong as the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft rates the Pro 4's battery for nine hours of continuous video playback, and our tests confirmed this with a time of eight hours and twenty-six minutes when looping a Full HD video at full brightness and moderate volume levels. If you're going to be using the Surface Pro 4 primarily for web browsing or light productivity work, you'll likely be able to squeeze even more out of the battery, though the opposite holds true if you plan on pushing the Pro with any graphics- or processor-intensive tasks.
At launch, the Surface Pro 4 retailed for a hefty $1349 and up, depending on which configuration you went with. Two years on, the price has dropped significantly, with the basic Core m3 model with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage available for $899, while the top-of-the-line Core i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB storage model goes for $3441.65.
Current pricing for Surface Pro 4 in Australia is listed below:
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Intel Core M3, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage from Microsoft Store
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage from Microsoft Store
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage from MWave
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage from Dick Smith Electronics
$1799 plus deliveryView details
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage from Dick Smith Electronics
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage from Microsoft Store
Where can I buy the Surface Pro 4?
You can purchase the Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft Store using the links above as well as from participating retailers like JB Hi-Fi and mwave.
- Sixth-generation Intel Core m3/i5/i7
- m3: Intel HD graphics 515
i5: Intel HD graphics 520
i7: Intel Iris graphics
- 12.3" PixelSense display
- 2736 x 1824
- Pixels per inch
- Physical dimensions
- 292.1mm x 201.4mm x 8.5mm
- m3: 766g
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Full-size USB 3.0
microSD card reader
3.5mm audio out
Type Cover port
- Up to 9 hours of continuous video playback
- 5MP front-facing camera
8MP rear-facing camera
Dolby Audio Premium stereo speakers
- Operating System
- Windows 10 Pro
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