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Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and the Competition

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Let it be known that we have entered the Golden Age of Mobile Computing. Manufacturers have packed ample computing power into lightweight form factors, with plenty of choices in the neighborhood of $1,000. Operating system preference—whether Chrome OS, Windows 10, or iOS—factors in as well. Microsoft has announced it is entering two more hybrids into the crowded field of competition. How does the new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book match up against other devices on the market?

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Release Date October 7, 2015
CPU Intel M
Skylake Core i5
Skylake Core i7
Memory 16 GB
Screen size 12.3 inch
Resolution 5 million pixels
Operating System Windows 10
Storage 128 GB+
Battery Life Up to 9 hours
Weight 1.69 lbs.
Price Starts at $899
Recommended Productivity Accessories Surface Pen
Type Cover

 

With no Surface 4 tablet—at least none have been announced yet—the Surface Pro 4 is the lowest-cost choice. Microsoft also announced a new Surface Pen with 1,024 degrees of pressure sensitivity, which is a further development of the previous generation Surface Pen.

The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover also received some attention with improved typing feel and a fingerprint sensor. Multiple configurations will be available, with the highest-end model priced at $2,199 and equipped with an i7 with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB of storage.

Full Surface Pro 4 Fact Sheet

Microsoft Surface Book

Release Date October 26, 2015
CPU Skylake Core i5
Skylake Core i7
Memory 16 GB
Screen size 13.5 inch
Resolution 5 million pixels
Operating System Windows 10
Storage 128 GB+
Battery Life Up to 12 hours
Weight 3.48 lbs.
Price Starts at $1,499
Recommended Productivity Accessories Type Cover
Docking Station

 

This new addition to the Surface lineup expands it into the laptop segment with a screen size of 13.5 inches. Microsoft intends for it to directly compete against the MacBook Pro, and the specs back this up. Along with a 6th generation Core processor, the Surface also has a discrete NVIDIA graphics card and two batteries.

Another party feature of the Surface Book is the fact that the keyboard portion of the device can be detached, which brings the weight down from 3.48 pounds to somewhere around 1.6 pounds. Like the SP4, expect multiple configurations and the fully loaded price to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,699.

Full Surface Book Fact Sheet

Microsoft Surface 3

Release Date May ‘15
CPU Intel Atom x7-Z8700 SoC
Memory 2 GB
4 GB
Screen size 10.8 inch
Resolution 1920 x 1280
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro, upgradeable to Windows 10
Storage 64 GB
128 GB
Battery Life Up to 10 hours
Weight 1.37 lbs.
Price 64 GB $499
128 GB $599
Recommended Productivity Accessories Surface Pen
Type Cover
Docking Station

 

At 10.8 inches, the Surface 3 is smaller and closer to a true tablet experience than the Surface Pro 3. When paired with the detachable Type Cover keyboard and Surface Pen, the Surface 3 is more reminiscent of a small netbook than a productivity laptop.

Read more:

Surface 3 Still the Best Device for Windows 10

5 Ways Surface 3 Can Win Back the Classroom for Microsoft

Four Windows 8.1 Tablets That Match Up Against Surface 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Release Date June ‘14
CPU i3-4020Y 1.5 GHz 3 MB cache
i5-4300U 1.9 GHz (2.9 GHz Turbo Boost) 3 MB cache
i7-4650U 1.7 GHz (3.3 GHz Turbo Boost) 4 MB cache
Memory 4 GB
8 GB
Screen size 12 inch
Resolution 2160 x 1440
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro, upgradeable to Windows 10
Storage 64 GB
128 GB
256 GB
512 GB
Battery Life Up to 9 hours
Weight 1.76 lbs.
Price Core i3, 64 GB $769
Core i5, 128 GB $999
Core i5, 256 GB $1,299
Core i7, 256 GB $1,549
Core i7, 512 GB $1,949
Recommended Productivity Accessories Surface Pen
Type Cover
Docking Station

 

Powered by a 4th generation Intel Core processor, professionals more used to working on laptops than tablets will feel more at home with a SP3 than with a SP3. The pricing alone hammers in this point, as its closest competitors are laptops and not tablets. At 12 inches, it compares favorably against smaller laptops.

Replace a Laptop with iPad Pro or Surface Pro 3?

Microsoft Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3? Pick the Right Windows Hybrid

The Great Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Identity Crisis

 

Apple iPad Pro

Release Date November ‘15
CPU 3rd Gen Apple A9X SoC
Screen size 12.9 inch
Resolution 2732 x 2048
Operating System iOS 9
Storage 32 GB
128 GB
Battery Life Up to 10 hours
Weight 1.5 lbs
Price $799
Recommended Productivity Accessories Apple Pencil
Keyboard

 

The iPad Pro’s resolution dwarfs many mainstream laptops and features a pixel density of more than 264 pixels per inch (PPI). In addition, the new Apple Pencil accessory makes it an ideal choice for designers and media creators that need the precision of a drawing tablet. The optional keyboard accessory also makes it a good choice for professionals that deal with spreadsheets and word processors more than digital canvases.

Unlike the other devices on this list, the iPad Pro is the only one that is primarily touch-based. Whereas you can forego using the touchscreen on the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, the iPad Pro requires you to swipe and tap. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of using an iOS device for productivity is the fact that you have to use mobile versions of applications instead of the usual desktop versions—even if you have the keyboard and Pencil accessories.

The iPad Pro comes out in November with a price tag of $799.

Google Chromebook Pixel

Release Date February ‘13
CPU Core i5, 2.2 GHz
Core i7, 2.4 GHz
Memory 8 GB
16 GB
Screen size 12.85 inch
Resolution 2560 x 1700
Operating System Chrome OS
Storage 32 GB
64 GB
Battery Life Up to 12 hours
Weight 3.3 lbs.
Price Core i5 $999
Core i7 $1,299

 

Starting at $999, the Chromebook Pixel is primarily a laptop rather than a tablet. Professionals used to Windows or OS X operating systems should be able to quickly get the hang of Chrome OS. You still rely on a mouse and keyboard, with the touch functionality being an optional input method. Despite having an operating system with a relatively small adoption rate, Chromebooks still make for great productivity machines provided you are comfortable working from and saving to the cloud. With only up to 64 GB of storage, you can fill up the SSD rather quickly.

The Chrome OS is the most unique part of the Chromebook experience. Unlike Windows, don’t expect to install many programs directly from a CD or disk. All the apps will be installed via the Google Play store, which requires an Internet connection. You can still work offline, but don’t expect to download new apps or save to the cloud.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, taken from Flickr Creative Commons
Summary
Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and the Competition - HardBoiled
Article Name
Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and the Competition - HardBoiled
Description
Details on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 have finally been revealed. How does it stack against other mobile computers? We take a look at it and other devices.
Author
Wallace Chu

Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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