Panos Panay, charismatic head of the entire Microsoft devices division, has announced at the Windows 10 Devices event the new, highly anticipated Surface Pro 4.
It features a full array of 6th generation Intel Core m3, i5, and i7 processor, with 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB of RAM configurations, as well as up to a 1TB of storage.
The new Surface Pro 4 is thinner, down from 9.1mm to 8.4mm. Panay brags that the only reason the Surface team didn’t make it thinner was because they had to fit a full-sized USB port. Which highly suggests that in the future, when USB-C is more common, we will see even thinner Surface Pro devices.
It is also marginally lighter, starting 1.69 lbs (766g) for the M3 model, and 1.73 lbs (786g) for the i5 and i7 models. It features a larger 12.3 inch display with a higher 2736 x 1824 resolution (267 PPI) than its predecessor. Like all the current generation Surface devices, it carries a 3:2 aspect ratio. Its other dimensions remain unchanged. As such, there is noticeably less bezel on the sides of the screen than before. It’s also worth noting that the new device doesn’t seem to have a start button anymore, as seen in the image below.
Panay discussed a group of technologies called PixelSense, all of which combine to enable the best pen experience available on computers today. It features the thinnest optical stack available in the world today. Panay discusses something called the Microsoft G5 chipset that makes the smoothest, closest pen writing experience possible.
With the new Surface Pro 4 comes a newly improved Surface Pen. The new Surface Pen features eraser function on the top of the pen, unlike a certain competitor’s offering. It also features all-year battery life. Pressure sensitivity has increased to 1024 levels from 256 levels, which also happens to be what the first and second generation Surface Pro devices with Wacom tech featured. The pen can be magnetically attached to the left side of the Surface Pro 4. It even features interchangeable pen tips, each with different softness mirroring real writing tools, including 2H, H, HB, B softness. Interestingly, tilt rotation sensing was not mentioned, which leads me to suspect it will not have it.
It’s also worth discussing the design of the pen. Unlike the previous pen which featured a fully circular silo, the new pen is contoured with flat faces, much like an actual pencil. Panay also mentions that the eraser tip actually feels like an eraser, making the experience feel as natural as possible. The pen comes in five colors: silver, gold, red, blue, and black.
Like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4 features the same array of physical ports: Full-size USB 3.0, microSD card reader, 4-pole headset jack, Mini-DisplayPort, and Type Cover port. The device also features an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, and gyroscope, as well as Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0.
To add more convenience, the Surface Pen carries a feature where double-clicking the pen will capture a screenshot and clip it into OneNote for immediate pen editing. Holding the pen button will activate Cortana.
The new “Surface Pro” docking station works with Surface Pro 3 as well as Surface Pro 4. It sports connectivity for two 4k displays via mini-DisplayPorts, 4 USB 3.0 ports, and Ethernet connection.
It’s important to note that the new dock design is very different from the past. The new dock is much more like a hub than a dock. This, in my opinion, is a fantastic re-implementation of the docking concept, as it now gives users the flexibility to continue working with the kickstand while docked in, a huge boon for illustrators like myself. All the data and power is transferred through the device’s Surface Connect port, which is essentially its power port.
With the new generation, comes an all-new Type Cover. It is the thinnest, and sturdiest ever produced. The keyboard features integrated backlights, and now features mechanical scissor keys with a 1.3mm travel with a 19mm pitch. There will be 5 Type Cover color options: red, black blue, dark green, and cyan. A very big deal is the new trackpad, which has been made 40% larger, as well as being glass-made. The new Type Cover also features a finger print reader. As always, it is backwards compatible with the previous Surface devices.
Panay also discusses Windows Hello, which allows a single Surface Pro 4 to login unique profiles for various individuals. This is powered by an all-new, powerful 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The device also features an 8 MP rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording.
Battery life holds steady at 9-hours, despite the much more power efficient CPUs. This is likely due to the larger pixel count in the display.
All told, the Surface Pro 4 sports noticeable all-around improvements over its predecessor, as well as new cutting edge features never before seen on a computer this size.
Pre-order starts tomorrow, October 7th. On sale October 26th. Starts at $899. Pricing configurations can be found on the official website.