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If It Ain’t Broke …

Microsoft hit its stride with the Surface Pro 3, significantly slimming down from the first two versions, boosting the display size from 10.6-inches to 12-inches and changing the screen to a more useful 3:2 aspect ratio. Those moves were the changes that helped transform the Surface Pro from interesting experiment to a truly compelling 2-in-1 convertible laptop

The Surface Pro 4 (now available for preorder from Best Buy) is an upgrade in every way over the previous generation, but now that the formula is established, Microsoft didn’t change much, physically.

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Thinner, Faster, Lighter, Better Battery Life and an Improved Display

Surface Pro 4 in Tablet mode.jpgMicrosoft uses new 6th generation Intel Skylake CPUs in the Surface Pro 4. You can read Gadjo’s overview for the full scoop on what this new silicon offers, but in the case of the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft says that’s a 30 percent speed boost over last year. That would be the Core i5 and Core i7 options; we’ll have to see how the new Core m3 does in place of the Core i3 chip the base Surface Pro 3 was equipped with.

At 8.4 mm thick, the magnesium alloy frame is thinner than the Surface Pro 3’s 9.1 mm and the base model (with a Core m3 CPU) weighs just 766 grams.

The biggest noticeable change is the Surface Pro 4’s display. Microsoft nudged the size up slightly to 12.3-inches, shrunk the bezels and added a few more pixels to bring its resolution to 2736 x 1824 pixels (or 267 pixels-per-inch).

Memory options range from 4GB to 16GB and SSD storage starts at 128GB, going all the way up to 1TB. Battery life is rated at up to 9 hours using video playback, a one hour improvement compared to last year. The 8MP front camera supports Windows 10’s Hello facial recognition.

New Type Cover, Surface Pen and Other Accessories

Despite the fact that the Surface Pro 4’s display grew slightly and it shed a few millimetres of thickness, other dimensions remain unchanged. And that’s important because it means you can use last year’s Type Cover and Accessories with this year’s model.

However, you may not want to …

Alongside the new tablet, Microsoft introduced a new Surface Pro 4 Type Cover featuring “ProSet” keys that offer 1.3 mm of travel for more comfortable and accurate typing and they’re spaced slightly further apart as well. This new keyboard is pretty close to the chiclet-style often found on laptops. It also features a larger trackpad made of glass for precision. A more expensive version of the optional keyboard cover includes a fingerprint sensor that supports Windows 10’s Hello biometric log-in.

A new Surface Pen attaches to the Surface Pro 4 magnetically, offers increased responsiveness (partially because of new chips inside the stylus itself and partially because a new, thinner Gorilla Glass 4 display cover) and holding down the eraser activates Cortana, Windows 10’s virtual assistant.

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A new Surface Dock (backwards compatible with the Surface Pro 3) ups the video output options over the prior version, offering a pair of 4K-capable DisplayPort connectors.

It looks like a worthy upgrade that keeps what people love about the Surface Pro, while making it trimmer and more powerful than ever.

Look for the Surface Pro 4 soon on the shelves at your local Best Buy and you can preorder yours right now online!

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.