Surface Pro 4 first impressions review: Microsoft says it’s a laptop replacement, we doubt

More than three years after debuting the original Surface tablet, Microsoft has finally brought the Surface to India. It was back in June 2012 when the company had introduced its first Surface line of tablets, and since then the company has been introducing its successors every year with the Pro 4 being the newest in the lineup, which is the Surface Microsoft is entering the Indian market with.

When IBNLive asked Vineet Durani, director – Windows Business Group, Microsoft India as to what took the company so long to bring the Surface tablets to India, he said, “Whenever you bring a new category, you need to build it from scratch, asses the market potential and decide which markets to be targeted and when. And now having got great feedback from customers, we think it’s the right time to bring the Surface to the country,” adding, “We had been wanting it to bring to India for a long time, but it’s just that we wanted it to be a great experience for customers – in terms of the way we bring it, the ease with which we make it available which also include our distribution capabilities.”

While Microsoft thinks of the Surface Pro 4 as a right device introduced at the right time in India, does it actually have in it to outperform the competition or to lure users away from laptops?

While the company thinks of the Surface Pro 4 as a right device introduced at the right time in India, does it actually have in it to outperform the competition or to lure users away from laptops? Well, its real worth can only be ascertained after using it for a longer period, but our hands-on with the device gives more than a hint at its potential as a whole.

The Surface Pro 4, no doubt, has a premium appeal, and its beautiful design is likely to leave you impressed. The device can be used as a standalone tablet or in combination with a Microsoft keyboard (Type Cover) that clicks magnetically into place.

Let’s first talk about it as a standalone tablet.

While, the tablet bears dimensions similar to the last-gen Surface Pro 3, it offers more viewing area courtesy its narrow bezels.

In line with the company’s claims, the tablet doesn’t feel heavy in hands, which further adds to its portability; nevertheless, it’s not exceptionally light in weight. In all, it’s hunky dory. While the display is great to look at, cameras (both an 8 megapixel rear and a 5 megapixel front) and speakers seem to lack a wow factor. At the demo zone, we got to briefly test its camera and speakers, and both of them appeared to be okay. But that’s not our finally take on them, as the cameras were tested only in not-so-bright areas; also the speakers were played in a noisy environment.

Interestingly, the company has attempted to make the most of its design and the free space available on the device. To start with, Microsoft has integrated an adjustable kickstand at the back, which makes it possible to have the tablet placed in every possible position that a user usually wants.

Further, underneath the kickstand is a microSD card reader that supports a card of up to 128 GB. Also, the left side of the device houses a space for the Surface Pen, which is a stylus that comes bundled with the tablet. It can be used for tapping, selecting, and on-screen writing and drawing.

To save users from misplacing their stylus, the company has included the capability of attaching it to the tablet. The Surface Pen can be easily attached to the left side of the device or any magnetic surface with the help of the magnet on the flat side of the pen’s cap. We used the pen to write and draw, and it went along pretty well.

While all this has been about the Surface Pro 4 as a tablet, but there is more to it.

The tablet, as the company claims, can be turned into a laptop with the help of its Type Cover, which can be bought separately. The Type Cover (available in Blue and Black), basically, is a thin, lightweight keyboard which attaches to the tablet with the help of a magnet.

As the keyboard magnetically clicks into place, attaching it to the device is not at all a pain. But using it could be – if it’s not on a flat surface.

In other words, the tablet with the keyboard attached could be easily used if it is placed on a table (in fact, I found the typing on the keyboard pretty smooth and fast), but as you take it off an even surface to say, your lap (as the laptops are often used), it becomes uncomfortable to use and handle. With the device (with the Type Cover on) in your lap, neither the typing remains smooth, nor there is a proper balance. Therefore, we doubt the company’s claim of it being a laptop replacement.

As a user will have to shell out extra money (around Rs 12,500) for the keyboard, the cost of the device for a tablet seems to be over priced. Also, the device, on paper, boasts of powerful specs, but how well it fares can only be evaluated after putting it to real-world tests. But if it is worth its price tag is something we are yet to conclude.

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