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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.

The trackpad is also larger and features a new glass surface -- and it's responsive. It's hard to find a trackpad that can measure up to the touch force trackpad found on the 2015 MacBook, but this one is close. I didn't find myself frustrated with its accuracy during testing and, while it could certainly be a little more responsive at times, it's more than satisfactory. The gestures are also useful and can be configured in the settings. You can use multi finger taps to prompt different features and swap between apps.

Microsoft's Surface Pen has also features some improvements. The body of the pen is thicker and it features a new tip that gives a little more resistance when writing directly on the screen. You can also purchase different tips in a kit, which includes four separate nubs including one similar to the feel of a #2 pencil and another that is more like a fine point pen.

Display: What's not to like

You'll have a difficult time finding a complaint about the display on the Surface Pro 4 because it's absolutely gorgeous. The only downside is that when you look at the display on an outdated or inferior device, it might feel like you're looking through a dirty window. While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, it's just a testament to how nice the display is on the Surface Pro 4.

It has the specs to back it up with a 12.3 inch, 10-point multi touch PixelSense display boasting a screen resolution of 267 ppi. It's similar in quality to the iPad Pro, which has a slightly larger display size at 12.9-inches, which results in a slightly lower resolution of 264 ppi. However, a Macbook Air, with a resolution of 135 dpi, is no comparison to Surface Pro 4.

Performance: Plenty of power for work and play

While overall performance will depend on the model you choose, the Intel i5 processor and 8GB of RAM were more than enough to get through the day, whether at work or at home. Alternatively, you can go with a 6th Gen Intel Core m3 or i7 processor, instead of the Intel Core i5. Configurations include options from 128GB to 1TB of storage, depending on the processor you choose, and you can get 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of memory. The base model, with the M3 processor starts at $899 and goes up to $1,599 for the highest configuration with an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

In testing, the i5 processor with 8GB of memory was more than enough for every day computing tasks, and 4GB might be lacking if you're multi-tasker, keep too many browser tabs running, keep apps going in the background or if you stream content regularly. Also, while it's great Microsoft offers a lower configuration with the M3 processor, it's hard to imagine anyone buying such a high-end device with a mobile processor, but the option exists.


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