For some time now, the Microsoft Surface Pro range has been touted as ‘the tablet to replace your laptop’; but with the release of the newest generation – the Surface Pro 4 – just how true are Microsoft’s claims? We get hands on with the Surface Pro 4 to find out.

We were big fans of the Surface Pro 3 when it was released in 2014; it represented a major step-up from the original Surface Pro and had enough new design features to merit the price tag. With the Surface Pro 4, we see another step up in terms of price but very few design changes, which might be a worry for anyone thinking of trading up; however, it’s under the hood that the Pro 4 really delivers. This is a powerful beast of a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet with impressive battery and storage capabilities.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Design and display


Starting with the two Ds – design and display – and owners of the Surface Pro 3 won’t see any huge differences here, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At launch, the Pro 3 was one of the lightest and best-looking laptop/tablets on the market and the Pro 4 is no different.

The Pro 4 retains the size specifications of the Pro 3 with just a couple of tweaks in the form of the screen size – which is now 12.3-inches, compared to the 12-inch screen on the Pro 3 – and the width; the Pro 4 is just slightly slimmer than its predecessor.

Pro 4 keyboardsIt also retains the durable magnesium casing – which gives it a premium feel – and kickstand, but has made some welcome improvements on the keyboard.  One of the main – and for some, only – gripes Pro 3 users have reported is that the keyboard and trackpad aren’t as precise as a laptop.

This issue is solved with the Pro 4 Type Cover. With a rebuilt key mechanism, additional space between the keys and a redesigned larger trackpad – this time made of glass – the Pro 4 offers a vast improvement in accuracy and usability, particularly if you’re using the Pro 4 for work.  

The resolution has also been improved on the Pro 4 to 2736 x 1824 which is better than the new MacBook, MacBook Air and iPad Air 2. Heavy users will also welcome the presence of PixelSense which offers high contrast and low glare to reduce eye strain. 
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 hands on
 

Performance


In terms of performance, if you want to see the Pro 4 at work, give it a task worthy if it’s processing power.

As with the Pro 3, again on this model you can choose from three processor types, with Intel Core m3, i5 or i7. All three pack plenty of bang for your buck and you shouldn’t encounter any problems running programs like Photoshop and AutoCAD – again the fact that this piece of equipment is so light it proves particularly easy to use if you’re a business traveller or regularly offsite.

Luckily, this also applies to RAM and the storage capabilities of the Pro 4. RAM is available in 4, 8 or 16GBs; while in terms of storage you should never run out of space on a hard drive of 128, 256 or 512GB, but if you think you might you can even avail of the 1TB of storage on offer.

The battery has also proven reliable, offering nine hours without a charge which is what you would expect from most high-spec laptops.

As this is a Microsoft product it’s made to run Windows 10 and it does so well. The functionality is great on the Pro 4 and you really see the operating system at its best on this machine. Avail of all of the new features on Windows 10, including Windows Hello, which allows you to unlock your Surface Pro 4 by scanning your face – very handy if you’re bad with passwords.  
 

The verdict


So can the Surface Pro 4 replace your laptop? In a word … ‘absolutely’.

The Pro 4 offers a significant boost in terms of processing power over the Pro 3, which means it can compete and surpass the capabilities of many laptops. It’s also extremely versatile. Price is an issue of course and the Pro 4 certainly isn’t cheap, but if you’re looking for a reliable device that can serve as both a tablet and laptop, you've found it with the Surface Pro 4. 

Buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 from Currys PCWorld now from €1,029