Review: Surface Pro 4

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The Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft
The Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft

Microsoft's pushed all the right buttons on its latest laplet

By Alvin Cabral

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Published: Fri 10 Jun 2016, 9:16 PM

Both on and beneath the surface (pun intended), it's another sleek winner from Microsoft.
The big guys are back with the Surface Pro 4, and the latest iteration of their flagship tablet computer promises to bring more than just looks.
The 12.3" display - within the same overall dimensions - is powered by Microsoft's own PixelSense technology, which reduces glare and provides high contrast that can, as the brand puts it, rival real-life stuff. That's a minimal uptick from the Pro 3's 12" and, in case you missed it, Microsoft ditching the capacitive Windows button on the tablet had something to do with it. Makes sense, since Windows 10, which the Pro 4 comes with, comes with the adored Start Button anyway. It's also thinner, from 9.1mm to 8.4mm.
Meanwhile, the resolution, at 267 ppi, is a jump from the Pro 3's 216 ppi. For the sake of comparison, its main competitor, the MacBook Air, is a mile behind at 128 ppi. And it barely bests the already uber-crisp iPad Pro, which is at only 264 ppi. The Pro 4's RAM also rivals the new MacBook, with both having a very generous 8GB LPDDR3.
Furthermore, comparing an Intel Core i5-powered Pro 4 to the 13.3" HP Spectre x360: for a slightly lower price, you can get the latter with a 6th-generation i7 processor, while also having the same storage, RAM and graphics. The entry-level Pro 4 comes with an m3 chip.
As far as battery life is concerned, while Microsoft lists both the Pro 4 and Pro 3 at up to nine hours of Web browsing, my mixed-use test revealed that the former clocked in at about six hours, roughly an hour better than the latter.
Microsoft even upped the ante insecurity with Windows Hello, which allows you to sign in with your face. You've probably heard of that, no?
Of course, no Surface device would be complete without the Surface Pen, a great companion when surfing the Web using Microsoft Edge. With 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity - four times that of the previous Pen - it's now more sensitive and easier to use, and rehashed like a pencil. Even better news? It now comes included with the Pro 4.
Which leads us to an old-but-still-sad news: the Type Cover is still sold separately, and you know what that means - extra cash shell-out to realise this device's full potential. Sad, since the Type Cover has been souped-up as well. And if you need more reason to sulk, go back to the price comparisons above.

Performance wasn't an issue with the Surface Pro 4, and it has a few negatives, such as a lower-than-expected improvement in battery life and that Type Cover beef. However, in today's world that demands more portability, this flexible laplet merits some serious consideration.
The Lowdown
Processor: 6th-generation Intel Core m3, i5, i7 (clock speed varies)
Memory: RAM - 4GB, 8GB, 16GB; storage - 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD
Graphics: Intel HD 515 (m3), HD 520 (i5), Iris (i7)
Platform: Windows 10 Pro; comes with 30-day Office trial
Display: 12.3" PixelSense, 267ppi
Camera: Main - 8MP autofocus with 1080p HD video; front - 5MP with 1080p HD video, Hello sign-in
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0; USB 3.0, microSD, mini DisplayPort, Cover port, headset jack, SurfaceConnect
Price: Starting at Dh3,995
Pros: Better screen, improved Type Cover and Pen
Cons: Battery life, a bit expensive, Type Cover still out of the box
Author's rating: 8.5/10

The Launchpad
Nikon D5
Nikon's next-gen flagship shooter "expands photographic possibilities for professional photographers". The newest Nikon-FX-format camera comes with advanced specs, such as improved moving-subject acquisition capabilities and better image quality at high sensitivities, which responds to a wider variety of scenes and subjects. (Starting at Dh27,999)

Sony Xperia XA Ultra
When you have a smartphone with a 16MP front camera that impresses in low-light conditions, selfie maniacs are sure to make a beeline for you. And that's exactly what Sony's new gizmo is boasting about. This 6" beast has a borderless full-HD display with curved glass and gives you up to two days on a single charge. (Available June, price TBA)

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