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Hands-on with Microsoft's new Surface Pro 4

Sarah K. White | Nov. 16, 2015
Microsoft has wanted consumers and enterprises to ditch traditional notebooks for the Surface tablets since 2012. And with the Surface Pro 4 that might finally be a realistic goal.

surface book surface pro 4 Microsoft

Microsoft Surface line up has come a long way in not only design and performance, but also in public perception. When it launched in 2012, there was no device like it on the market and people weren't sure what to make of it. Was it a tablet or a notebook, and could you really have the best of both in one device? But now companies such as Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Asus, HP and even Apple have jumped on board with the tablet-as-a-notebook concept, reinforcing Microsoft's strategy.

With each iteration, Microsoft has improved on the Surface, and the Surface Pro 4 is certainly no exception. With a brilliant display, impressive specs, enterprise-ready features and a sleek design, it's ready for work or play -- and it's the best Surface yet.

Design: As slim as it can get

Every Surface design closely resembles the one that came before it, and that is true when you compare the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 3. The Pro 4 is slightly thinner than the Pro 3, but only by .03 inches. and at 1.73 pounds, its only .03 pounds lighter than its predecessor. Devices can get only so slim before you start to sacrifice features like a full USB port, and the Surface Pro 4 is certainly slim and light enough to carry around wherever you need to take it. The biggest changes you'll find are in the specs and accessories.

The device features the familiar magnesium silver chassis, which gives it a high-end, stylish design. If you liked the design of past Surface models, you'll be more than happy with the looks of the Surface Pro 4. Around the edges of the device, are all the familiar ports including a full-sized USB 3.0, microSD card reader, headphone jack, Mini DisplayPort and the SurfaceConnect charging port. You'll find the front-facing 5 megapixel camera on the top of the bezel. On the back of the device, there is an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording capabilities. Overall, all the necessary ports are there and the design, while mostly unchanged, is still sleek and stylish.

Type cover and pen impress

The type cover -- which is still sold separately -- magnetically attaches to the base of the device, as it has with previous iterations, but the Surface Pro 4 brings some design improvements. One notable difference is that the keystrokes aren't as noisy as the last type cover, making it easier to type during a conference, on a flight or in a meeting without feeling like you are disturbing your neighbors.

The chicklet-style keys are also set further apart, with a 1.4mm key travel, which is the same as the MacBook Pro. Overall, the minor changes make the type cover feel as comfortable as a keyboard you'd find on a traditional laptop. It's also compatible with the Surface Pro 3 and you can opt to purchase a version with a built-in fingerprint scanner for added authentication security.


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