Can the Surface Pro 4 Replace Your Laptop?

The Surface Pro 4 is the first system that’s powerful and versatile enough to be your business system and compact enough to compete for space with any tablet. It has a high contrast/low glare display and Dolby Audio sound system so you can stream entertainment channels after hours. And it’s fast.

I’ve used the Surface Pro 4 for the past month and I’m able to accomplish my daily business tasks more quickly and easily than any desktop or laptop I’ve used in my business. I gave up on tablets long ago as a business device.

The Surface Pro 4 transitions from desktop to laptop to tablet mode seamlessly. Click To Tweet

A reboot isn’t necessary; just respond to the pop-up message asking you if that’s what you meant to do.

Pen

The Surface Pen is a new device for me and I was able to integrate it into my day-to-day workflow with ease. I’ve used Microsoft OneNote  as my note-taking app for over a year because of its powerful search capability.  It started out as my digital junk drawer and as I discovered more capabilities, I’ve become more organized. The Surface Pen allows me to take notes and draw on the screen directly into OneNote.

The Pen fits comfortably in my hand, and feels like a conventional pen. It even has an eraser. Once the Bluetooth Pen was paired with the Surface Pro 4, it was reliable and I found myself using it like I would a conventional pen.

When the pen isn’t in use, it attaches to the side of Surface magnetically and I pop it in my bag with my other pens when I’m on the road.

Type Cover

The Type Cover is a chicklet style keyboard and is designed to feel like a laptop keyboard, so it took no time to become accustomed to the touch. It clips securely to the Surface Pro 4 and when closed, shuts down the Surface’s display to conserve battery power.

The Type Cover is available with a fingerprint scanner and comes in five colors and there’s also a Special Edition NFLthemed Type Cover available.

Display

Microsoft describes the 12.3″ display as extremely high contrast and low glare. It’s 3:2 aspect ratio emulates a laptop display with accurate, vivid colors.   The result is you’re able to comfortably use the same device as your business system and then stream movies and YouTube videos.

Software & O/S

The operating system is a standard release of Windows 10. All your business apps run while you’re in tablet or laptop mode.  This is one of the key features I appreciate.

I’ve tested earler tablet/laptop devices and the transition to my business system has been clumsy. The Surface Pro 4 is now my primary business system, and it’s 100% compatible with other systems within my business.

Docking Station

The Surface Pro 4 Docking Station turns your mobile device into a desktop PC.  You can connect external monitors, speakers, Ethernet and USB devices like my wireless mouse. The dock has 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 mini display ports, an audio port, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a security lock slot. Attaching an older 21″ VGA monitor via a USB port adapter was as simple as attaching the cables and powering up the monitor. I didn’t even have to reboot!

My wireless mouse didn’t miss a beat; it was available within seconds of being plugging in. Moving from the Ethernet port on the Dock to Wi-Fi was also immediate. Besides my smartphone, the Surface is the first device I’ve used that moved back and forth seamlessly.

The docking station connects to the Surface Pro 4 with the magnetic Surface Connect cable. Like all the other features of the Surface Pro 4, it works instantly and seamlessly.

Camera & Sound

Surface Pro 4 has two cameras:  an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus and a 5-megapixel, high-resolution, front-facing camera. Both cameras record video in 1080p, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Your business pc now has the same video capability as your mobile device.

Sound

This is the first time I haven’t used external speakers on my business PC. The Surface Pro 4 has Dolby Audio that produces a crisp sound with enough volume to annoy your neighbors.

Battery

You can never have enough battery life for your tech devices. The Surface Pro 4 has an advertised 9 hours and lives up to that claim. The one thing I did notice – the Surface Pro 4 didn’t slow noticeably when the better was low.  The power cable is compact by laptop standards and has a USB port so I was able to charge my smartphone at the same time.

Performance

The Surface Pro 4 is fast enough to replace your business PC. This is the first time I can run my business on a device the size of a tablet. Having come from a tech environment, I often have 6 or 7 browser windows open and two or three apps. This would slow an older laptop to a crawl and cause my newer laptop to pause momentarily. Add live streaming and video meetings to the mix and some systems just give up….but not this one! It wasn’t necessary to shut down other apps during Skype meetings or live streaming sessions.

This Surface has an Intel Core M i5 processor with 8GB RAM and 256GB hard drive. Most of my data resides on Microsoft’s OneDrive.

Overall

The Surface Pro 4 has changed the way I use my business computer. I’ve run Windows 10 since it was first released and I’m a big fan of OneNote and Office. This is the first time I’ve used a system that can truly be used as a business PC that transitions to a mobile device.

Two things make the Surface Pro 4 stand out. First, moving from being docked to tablet mode and any other configuration you choose doesn’t require a reboot. It happens without drama. When you arrive at your destination, the only thing you have to worry about is the Wi-Fi password.

Secondly, the Surface Pro 4 runs full Windows 10; all of your apps are the same version as on your laptop or desktop. If you have your data stored on OneDrive, you have an exact duplicate of the business environment on your old laptop.

It’s fast and it works. It’s truly plug and play – no need to search out and download drivers

Conclusion

I’ve used the Surface Pro 4 as my primary system for 3 weeks and I’d call it a serious business PC shrunk to the size of a tablet. I like most of the features I’ve come to enjoy on my smartphone are now available on my business PC. I’ve been a fan of Windows 10 since it was released, and paired with the Surface Pro 4, you have a system that doesn’t get in the way of your creativity or productivity. The Pen is not just a gimmick; you save time by making notes right on the screen with native support in OneNote. As native support in other apps becomes available, the Surface Pen will become more useful.

The Surface Pro 4 just works! Moving from tablet mode to the docking station with an external monitor and USB mouse happens in seconds – no need to reboot. A pop-up asks you if that’s what you really want to do. Say yes and it happens. The connections are magnetic and easy to use – the Pen securely attaches to the side of the Surface. The Dock is just as easy to attach. Within seconds your mobile tablet has a large external monitor available and Ethernet connection available, along with your printer and any other device you have connected to the Dock.

MS Office and your other business apps are always available to you, whether you’re meeting someone in a remote co-working space or in your office. Your Skype calls have the same look and feel as long as you have a reliable internet connection. Using the Surface Pen makes remote meetings more productive by being able to mark up the document you’re sharing on your screen.

As a business owner, you’ll feel comfortable in a familiar Windows environment and all your business applications like MS Office are available to you without having to upgrade or install a special version. Setting up the system was easy and fast. I was working within an hour and used to the feel of the keyboard by the next day.

Bottom line, the best system for day to day business when you also need a mobile device. Unplug it from the Dock, put it in your backpack and you’re good to go. I’d give it a 9.5 out of 10. (I’m a geek, we don’t do perfect).

The Surface Pro 4 and Dock review unit was supplied to me by Microsoft Canada.

Bonnie Sainsbury

About the Author

Bonnie Sainsbury

Web trailblazer. Award winning social media influencer. I demystify technology to help you attract a steady stream of qualified leads

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