Surface Pro 4 Review

Preface

Before reading this review, please note, the review maybe a little biased as I am a self-proclaimed Microsoft fanboy.

Introduction

I am a real sucker for simple, elegant design. That is why I bought both the original Surface RT and Surface Pro (1st gen), even though they were plagued with bad press and reviews – which sadly, I had to agree with after using the devices for a short while.

Nothing wrecks a great user experience faster than having a super slow and unresponsive user interface, or a crippled operating system that had little to no apps (it was like buying a nice LCD TV that just had the free to air TV shows/programmes – pretty dull). And the 2nd gen Surface Pro and Surface 2 were no different. It wasn’t until the release of the Surface Pro 3 that my interest in the Surface returned. But there was one last thing stopping me from making the purchase, the Surface Pen was still disjointed.

With the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft has finally managed to sort out that last hurdle stopping me from making the jump.

Design

The design of the Surface Pro 4 is a slight improvement over the Surface Pro 3, with a slightly thinner profile and slightly larger display. The rest of the device remains the same.

Arguably, the most noticeable design change to me is the Surface Pen – it now self-attaches to the side of the Surface Pro 4.

Performance

I am not too sure what to write for this section. Everything runs smoothly on the Surface Pro 4. Even the orientation change is picked up in a timely manner (and more accurately compared to the 1st gen). The Surface Pen is near-perfect precision and very responsive.

With Windows 10 and the latest Intel processors, I think the device can now really live up to Microsoft’s claim: a tablet that can replace your laptop.

Though, I must admit, there were a few kinks with Windows 10 a few months back, but those have all been pretty much ironed out with the latest driver and software updates – less Microsoft Edge. My advice for others is still to avoid using Microsoft Edge.

Build Quality

The Surface Pro 4 looks and feels well-made. I have had mine for over 4 months now and have not experienced any signs of wear in the kick stand or heard any internal rattling noises. However, I would not want to drop it or open it up. Like most compact devices these days, most of the components are held in place by glue rather than screws (this probably explains why I do not hear any rattling noises). And therefore, I highly recommend purchasing Microsoft Complete.

Microsoft Complete – unlike Apple Care and other general insurance, Microsoft Complete will, for a nominal amount ($54 in Australia), repair/replace your device regardless of how the damage came about. A pretty wicked insurance deal!

Note: There is only two ways one can buy Microsoft Complete. 1 – purchase it at the same time when you make your purchase from the Microsoft online store. 2 – in-person at a Microsoft store. Microsoft staff need to inspect the condition of the device before they can offer the insurance.

Conclusion

With the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft has taken a big leaf from Apple’s books – create hardware that would work seamlessly with the OS and vice versa. This produces a superior user experience and allows for truly innovative products/features to be realised. Yes, I am referring to my favourite feature – Windows Hello.

I hope this approach continues with the Surface Pro 5.

Getting back to the Surface Pro 4, should you buy one? Or look for something else?

For me, there’s just the Surface Pro 4. All the other knock-offs look nice and no doubt they are great devices with their own unique features. But if you want a vanilla Windows 10 experience and a mature device that is in its fourth generation (i.e. has most of its kinks ironed out already), then I recommend the Surface Pro 4.

Important note: the minimum spec’d Surface Pro 4 you should be looking at is the one with the Core i5 CPU and 8GB RAM. This is the biggest regret I have with my Surface Pro 4 purchase (I bought the i5/4GB model). 4GB just won’t let you do much.

And as pointed out by all the other reviewers, a Type Cover is a mandatory accessory. So factor the cost of the Type Cover into the cost.

Product Photos

Figure 1. Top side of packaging.
Figure 2. Surface Pro 4 sitting outside packaging revealing Surface pen underneath.
Figure 3. First glance inside packaging.
Figure 4. All the contents of the package.

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