Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – Laptop or tablet?

Time for a new laptop and my return to the world of Windows PCs after four and a quarter years with a MacBook.

Back in 2012 a new laptop generally meant a grey Dell, HP or Toshiba with a 15in screen, running Windows 7. Windows 8 came along, but our IT manager didn’t recommend using it, so the only choice was a free downgrade to XP or 7. Four years later and little has changed. Until last year our default Windows OS remained XP Pro. New laptops now, reluctantly, run Windows 10. It has not been a great four years for Microsoft.

My new laptop had to run Windows 10 Pro, have a full touch screen, be powerful, as small and light as my MacBook and future proof in terms of specification.

Two of my partners have Dell XPS 13s, which sort of look like a MacBook Air, so that was a compelling option. I looked at both the XPS 13 and 15, but was put off by review reports of buggy drivers for the new 4k displays. Similarly, the Samsung Notebook 9 came close, but my top choice was a Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 was launched in autumn 2015 and I first saw it at the Microsoft Store in Vancouver last October, the week before it went on sale. The Surface Pro 4 was designed by Microsoft to showcase Windows 10. Hardware and software have all been specified by Microsoft to work with Windows 10 and optimise what it can do.

So, here it is, my new Surface Pro 4, spec’d up with an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

Storage was my main concern, but with 1TB on my Microsoft OneDrive cloud and no second operating system to accommodate, I figured that 256GB would be enough and seemed to give the best value for money.

My work email has been with Outlook 365 for the last year or so, and I’ve been using Office 365 on my old MacBook, so setting up email, calendar, contacts and Office was very easy on the Surface and all my documents were already on OneDrive.

Early days……. But the Surface Pro 4 gets 9 out of 10

  • It is small, compact, portable, very fast and connects well to my 27inch second screen.
  • The separate (blue) Surface touch keyboard is adequate. It is better than the similar keyboard on my iPad Pro and it has a touchpad unlike the IPad Pro, but it is nowhere near as good as the touchpad on a MacBook.
  • The Surface Dock, which costs about £160, but came bundled free with my Surface is a must have accessory, with extra ports and HDMI
  • Windows 10 is a vast step up from XP and I’m getting to like it, especially with the touchscreen display and the Surface Pen.
  • Its not a very good tablet – but is a great laptop alternative

If you want the best tablet on the market – get an iPad Pro 12″
If you want the best laptop on the market – get a MacBook Pro
If you want a superb laptop that does a few tablet tricks – get a Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Martin Gibbs is Dafferns Managing Partner @MartinGDafferns