Evolutionary changes have seen the Surface Pro 4 become one of the most powerful notebooks in a body that is altogether smaller.
Microsoft unveiled its fourth generation Surface Pro 4 at a launch event last night in New York. The tablet-notebook hybrid has matured to the point where it can replace a standalone computer, said Panos Panay, VP of Surface devices at Microsoft.
“This challenge between the tablet and the laptop, which do you buy, do you remember that problem? It’s gone.
“This is the fourth generation of building a tablet that can replace your laptop and we are there.”
Important changes have been made to the Surface Pro’s design, hardware and accessories.
The screen has increased in size to 12.3-inches and has more than 5 million pixels. The bonus screen real estate has not cost users, said Panay.
“We went from 12-inches to 12.3-inches in the diagonal. No, we didn’t change the footprint at all of the device. We did it by reducing the bezels.
“We wanted to give you more real estate for Windows 10.” Already 110 million devices are running Windows 10 since it launched eight weeks ago.
This year’s model is 8mm thick and benefits from improved hardware. Powering the hybrid are Intel’s 6th generation processors, which include an M3, core i5 or core i7. More RAM is available at 16GB and storage options will go up to 1-terabyte.
It is 30 per cent faster than last year’s model, and 50 per cent faster than Apple’s MacBook Air, said Panay.
“We have competitors, you may have noticed, they’re chasing it,” he said, in a dig aimed at Apple’s iPad Pro.
The Surface Pro 4 “is the thinnest and most powerful core PC ever shipped by far. Nothing is even close.
“We have engineers back in Redmond that use their Surface to make the next generation of Surface.”
The bump in performance has not expensed battery life with Microsoft claiming 9 hours of video playback.
Significant investment has been made in its accessories. The keyboard cover is Microsoft’s thinnest yet, features a glass trackpad that is 40 per cent larger and keys that are said to be more comfortable.
Introduced into the keyboard cover is a finger scanner for a layer of biometric security.
The hybrid is compatible with Microsoft's revised stylus, called Pen, which ironically has an eraser on its tail end.
“Isn’t it funny that there is a pencil out there without an eraser. It’s like backwards,” said Panoy, as he referenced the recently unveiled Pencil from Apple.
The stylus can cue MIcrosoft's Cortana personal assistant from a button press and can recognise 1024 levels of gradation.
It magnetically locks onto the shorter side of the display. Place the screen in portrait orientation and it is reminiscent of a clipboard.
Pre-orders have opened for the Surface Pro 4 and the hybrid will be available in store on 12 November, which is the day Microsoft’s Pitt Street store in Sydney opens.