The first iPad was released in 2010 (five and a half years ago) and last year, 220 million (22 crore) tablets were shipped. That is a good sales number but that number is still short of 314 million (31.4 crore) computers and nearly 2 billion mobile phones sold in the same year. One reason for this is that the tablets are still ‘entertainment’ and ‘infotainment’ devices while productivity still needs a personal computer (desktop or laptop). A quality tablet will cost north of 15k INR and a quality notebook will cost north of 35k INR and that’s a total price of 50k. What if you can get one device that can work as a laptop and as a tablet and comes with powerful PC operating system that lets you multitask, use full blown productivity apps (instead of half baked and stripped down variants of powerful desktop apps) by paying just a little bit more?
In the year 2013, Microsoft made available a hybrid computer that can work as a tablet, can work as a laptop and runs full fledged Microsoft Windows operating system. Dubbed as Surface Pro, this hybrid PC raised lot of eyebrows and acted as a catalyst for this new form factor. The fourth variant is praised by every reviewer across the globe. Here are a few reason why you should seriously consider buying one when it is released in India this year (2016).
Runs full blown operating system
All those thousands of applications that work on your windows desktop works on the Surface Pro because it runs Windows 10 desktop operating system. If you think that you don’t want a desktop UI, you can open ‘modern UI’ and use tablet/touch optimized applications and there are lot of them. You can switch between these apps and desktop apps on the fly. And the best part is that you can do ‘real multi-tasking’. All those accessories and peripherals (like your ergonomic keyboard, gaming mice, USB printers etc) that you were using on your PC will work without any trouble.
Universal Windows Applications
Windows 10 brought a new way to design applications. Developers of applications do not have to code apps for three different platforms (tablet, phone, desktop/laptop). They only need to code applications for one platform based on new Windows 10 development guidelines and the application will run on all platforms (after minor optimization). Also, Microsoft has announced at Build 2014 that users can buy an application once and use it on all platforms (to check if this is implemented or not). The result of this is that there are lot of developers who are now showing interest in developing their applications for Windows platform too. As a user, it is always easier to have your favorite application available across device types.
You can read in detail about universal windows app here in Microsoft’s blog post
Full Size USB 3 port, microSD card reader, mini DisplayPort
No proprietary port, no mini/micro USB port! What you get on the surface pro is a full size USB 3.0 port. Given that most peripherals connect using USB 3.0 port, this is a real boon. Point to note is that many peripherals that are made for tablets like iPad are usually overpriced. If you are about to use up most of the space available on the Surface 4 Pro, just get a generic USB external hard drive, connect it to the tablet and transfer content to the external drive. You can get a 1TB external portable hard drive for less than 4000 bucks (60$). If you want to transfer photos to a PC or laptop, open a shared folder on that PC and dump data or share a folder that you want others to access. In short, whatever you can do on a windows PC or notebook, you can do the same on a Surface Pro 4. Add a surface dock and you get 4x USB 3.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, 2x mini displayports, audio out port.
Higher priced model is not about internal memory
The pricing structure of Surface Pro 4 follows that of PCs, not that of tablets where you pay more for extra storage and cellular connectivity. The variants are priced based on CPU, amount of RAM, onboard storage. If you want to go further, you can customize the hardware but do note that the variant with core i7, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of HDD may cost more than 2 lac rupees (if made available here in India). And even with all this hardware, a Surface Pro 4 weighs less than a kilogram. Yet, thanks to the magnesium allow build, it feel sturdy.
The kickstand and Surface Pen
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Surface series is the multi position kickstand. Such was the popularity of the kickstand that it was embraced by other PC and tablet makers (HP Spectre x2, Google Pixel C). Surface Pen was another big talking point of Surface Pro. You can use the bundled surface pen for marking, hand writing, navigation and more. The new pen also comes with digital eraser. Instead of selecting ‘erase’ options from the screen, you have to turn the pen upside down and use the eraser like tip (similar to all those pencils that came with eraser at one end). When you are done using it, stick the pen to the tablet (yes, the surface pen body is magnetized and sticks to the sides of the tablet). Surface Pen now has 1024 pressure points making it lot more accurate (and we think that only the Apple pencil can match this pen). Best part is that you do not have to recharge the Surface pen. The battery lasts for a year. When the battery is low, unscrew the top part, remove the AAA size battery and add a new AAA battery. It is that simple!
Scans your face to unlock desktop
Fingerprint scanners are so old tech for computers. Why to even move a finger when you can unlock the device using your face! There is an infrared scanner that scans face to unlock Surface Pro 4 and this is so sensitive that it can differentiate between a face and photo. Not sure though if it can differentiate between twins. Given that the Lumia 950 smartphone has an Iris scanner, Microsoft should have implemented the same on this one.
There is an 8mp rear camera and a 5mp front facing camera. The display screams quality thanks to 2736 x 1824 pixel resolution panel and 3:2 aspect ratio is a boon for those who like reading content and prefer display to be not too wide. Given that this runs on Intel processors, geeks can go that extra mile and install Linux on this (needs a little bit of effort but it sure is fun).
The point is….
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is one of the best products that was ever designed by Microsoft. Heck, we can say that it is the best Windows device. This hybrid device showcases what the future of personal computing is going to be like. One Microsoft Surface computer can do lot more than what an iPad Air can do and it does everything a higher mid range notebook can do and more. Correction! Thanks to the powerful hardware, surface pen and gorgeous display, the Surface Pro 4 can do more than a higher mid range notebook can do. If you are looking for a new tablet and a notebook, ditch that plan and get a Surface Pro 4. It is worth it!