Laptops beware: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 poses a legitimate threat, and it’s coming to Hong Kong next week

Slimmer, stronger, lighter Surface tablet may prove a game-changer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 3:07pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 3:19pm

The silver magnesium casing of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 should start colouring coffee tables around Hong Kong from the end of next week as the company is already taking pre-orders online for what stands, finally, as a genuine threat to laptops city- or world -wide.

The company said it expects to begin shipping its ever-improving tablet, now armed with a 12.3-inch PixelSense screen, to customers in the city from Thursday.

The latest in the hugely successful series of tablets runs a Windows 10 Pro operating system and can transform into a laptop with a detachable keyboard.

“The Surface Pro is for the high-end market” said Horace Chow, general manager of Microsoft Hong Kong.

At under a kilogramme, it is nifty and very portable - 0.03 pounds lighter than the Pro 3, with a slightly bigger screen (0.3 inches added) and denser pixels. It maintains the same minimal design, with a fingerprint sensor on the keyboard and Cortana integration inside.

Microsoft said the quality of the display and responsiveness of the touch functions all represent a step up.

Moreover, the battery delivers nine hours of video playback, while the 5.0 megapixel front-facing HD camera and 8.0 megapixel rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video recording are not to be sniffed at.

The latest Surface Pen has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, making it four times as sensitive as its predecessor. It also has an eraser top that works wonderfully.

The previous stylus had its tip double as an eraser - activated by a nearby button - whereas the upgrade puts them at either end of the device, more closely approximating a real pencil.

The eraser button provides some convenient interactions. Click it once in Onenote, Microsoft’s note-taking programme, to create a new file; click it twice to capture a screenshot; and click and hold to switch on Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-control assistant.

One of the weak spot of Pro 3 is the small plastic trackpad. The Pro 4 has addressed this issue by providing a larger trackpad made of glass on the new keyboard cover. The keys are also backlit for viewing in dark environments.

The Surface Pen is provided free with the Pro 4, but a new keyboard cover must be purchased separately.

One bit of good news for Pro 3 users is that both the pen and keyboard are compatible with the last version of the tablet.

With better performance comes, however, comes higher price tags.

The Pro 4 with an Intel Core i7 processor and 256GB of storage will retail in Hong Kong for HK$13,988 (US$1,805). This makes it about HK$3,000 more expensive than the Pro 3, which features the same processor and storage capability. The device offers a choice of three processors.

WATCH: Microsoft demonstrates its latest tablet

The chiclet keyboard-type cover - essential for those planning on ditching their laptop - clips on magnetically and will set you back about another US$200.

Chow said the Pro 3 earned Microsoft revenue of US$3.6 billion globally for the last financial year.