Since its launch in 2012, the Microsoft Surface has been working towards becoming your go-to computing device as a businessman. It quickly detached itself from the leisure time tablet section of the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy or the Nexus tablets. The Surface Pro, specifically, is Microsoft’s vision of the businessman’s notebook – tablet-looking, but with laptop mentality. The Surface Pro wants to be a work tool, running a full Windows operating system to support heavier applications like CRM and ERP software. At the present moment, with the Surface Pro 4 out, the Surface is competing with the laptop rather than the tablet and, in this edition, we looked at the Surface Pro to show why everyone’s going Pro.
The Surface Pro might not seem that good-looking; it’s awkward to try to fit it in either of the tablet or the laptop categories because it IS a hybrid. It looks rigid compared to the round, sleek design of current tablets, and it’s quite a bit heavier than said tablets as well, since it packs the power of a laptop in approximately 12” x 8”. This may not be smaller than the new and very handy ultrabooks that range between 11” and 13”, like the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 series or the Lenovo Yoga 900, a 13” 2-in-1. However, as you may know, these consumer-friendly products are not recommended for the business environment. Still, to note here, rather, is that the Surface IS more portable than a laptop, weighing less than 2.5 lbs (including the keyboard) while less than half of an inch thick. Generally, this is where business-recommended laptops start and in bigger casings. Microsoft’s own newest laptop, the Surface Book, is one pound heavier with only a couple of inches larger. But, before jumping the gun to replace your laptop with a Surface, there is one more consideration. Unfortunately, the Surface takes the “lap” out of laptop – you will need a table to type up larger pieces. Some will say it’s doable, yet logically, the kickstand is intended for a flat surface, while tablet-mode is recommended for any other situation.
Naturally, a small device can pack on a limited amount of storage. However, the Surface Book, Microsoft’s latest notebook, and the Surface Pro 4, have arrived at having the same storage customizations: starting at 128 gigabytes (GB) and up to 1 terabyte of internal storage. This is the case for other professions laptops produced by competitors such as Lenovo and Dell. To note, storage can be eventually upgraded via micro SD card that, currently, can add a maximum of 512GB*. However, given the general migration towards a cloud-based storage, internal disk space might not turn out to be as valuable as it seems.
*current pricing is around $500
Firstly, the combination of features selected will affect the overall speed of any computer – the processor (Intel Core) and memory (RAM), but ultimately it’s the applications run that will determine how fast a Surface Pro can be. The more windows are open, the slower it will run. That said, the Surface Pro does pose considerable limitations no matter how pro it can be. How intensely you use certain applications (i.e. CRMs, ERPs, Adobe Creative Suite) will determine if you would benefit from downsizing to a Surface; considering the amount of memory needed, high use of such applications render it impossible to use a device as physically small as the Surface (or any other laptop in its size category).
Although longer battery life was expected from the Pro 4, most tests place it slightly over 6 hours. The Surface Book doubles that and so do most laptops of this generation – the Lenovo X260 even triples it. The only salvation for the Surface in this category is that, during office time, it can recharge in its docking station while you can continue to work on a secondary display.
Since our reference point are laptops, the Surface benefits from all its tablet features, like the touchscreen and the use of a stylus – this is a plus, as these features have not yet become standard. As an avid note taker, you can press the top button of your stylus to open One Note (the note-taking app) or press it twice to take a screen shot. Furthermore, you can train your Surface to recognize your handwriting to transcribe your notes. Naturally, there are other pen tricks, including programming your stylus buttons to your liking. On a different note, as a portable device, you may want to use it in presentations. You can connect your Surface to a wireless display via Bluetooth – this requires purchasing an adapter, yet it takes the guesswork out of connecting your laptop to a secondary display. There are certainly other cool features that the Surface has, some of which we don’t even know. If you’d like to share them with us, drop us a line.
The overall cost of the Surface Pro 4 may seem alarming at first. It starts at $1200 and can rack up to $3500 in features – excluding keyboard, docking station and others bells and whistles. However, a stark competition, the Lenovo X1 Yoga prices around $2000 for features* that the Surface would end up being $500 less. That said, going pro does become a possibility for anybody.
*Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128G disk space
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