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Microsoft Launches Surface Book and Surface Pro 4
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Microsoft Launches Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

Michael ChangOctober 7, 2015

October 6 was a big day for Microsoft. In New York, the software giant launched perhaps the biggest product launch event it had in recent memory.

Surface Book

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The Surface Book is Microsoft’s latest premium 2-in-1 device and its features don’t disappoint. It comes with a 13.5″ screen with a whopping resolution of 3000p x 2000p. According to Microsoft’s press release, the optically bonded screen has a fineness comparable to that of printed paper. The screen, or the Clipboard, can be detached from the keyboard base to be used independently as a tablet. It can also be connected in reverse, turning the unit into a canvas. The Surface Book does away with a stand and now uses the Fulcrum hinge to keep the unit upright. From the product shots, we can see that there’s a gap between the keyboard and the tablet when the screen is docked to the keyboard base. So I don’t believe it’s advisable to rest any heavy objects on top.

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The keyboard base is the next object of focus. Also constructed out of magnesium, the keyboard base uses backlit chiclet keys and a glass trackpad. It also includes 2x USB 3.o ports, a SD card reader, and a Mini DisplayPort. This is a godsend for anyone who’s ever struggled with the Surface Pro’s lack of ports. Microsoft claims that the keys offers best in class travel and feel for the best typing experience available on any portable device.

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The specifications is where the the Surface Book gets really interesting. Microsoft has opted to pair Intel’s newest 6th Gen. Skylake U CPUs with discrete graphics on the higher end models of the Surface Book. This is something rarely done on Ultrabooks of this size and rarer still on a 2-in-1 tablet PC. To keep the thermals in check, Microsoft has implemented a “hybrid cooling solution”. How this hybrid solution functions is currently shrouded in mystery. Battery life is rated at 12 hours and the maximum storage capacity is capped at 1TB SSD. While it’s yet unknown which manufacturer produces the SSD for the Surface Book, we do know that the SSD is PCIe based.

CPU  Intel Core-i5 6200/6300U  Intel Core-i5 6200/6300U  Intel Core-i5 6200/6300U  Intel Core-i7 U  Intel Core-i7 U
Graphics  Intel 520  Intel 520 Dedicated Nvidia GPU Dedicated Nvidia GPU Dedicated Nvidia GPU
Storage  128GB  256GB  256GB  256GB  512GB
Display  13.5″ PixelSense 3200x2000p  13.5″ PixelSense 3200x2000p 13.5″ PixelSense 3200x2000p 13.5″ PixelSense 3200x2000p 13.5″ PixelSense 3200x2000p
RAM  8GB  8GB  8GB  8GB  16GB
Camera 5MP/8MP Front/Rear 5MP/8MP Front/Rear 5MP/8MP Front/Rear 5MP/8MP Front/Rear 5MP/8MP Front/Rear
Weight  728g/1.62lbs (Tablet), 1516g/3.34lb (W/ keyboard)  728g/1.62lbs (Tablet), 1516g/3.34lb (W/ keyboard)  728g/1.62lbs (Tablet), 1516g/3.34lb (W/ keyboard)  728g/1.62lbs (Tablet), 1516g/3.34lb (W/ keyboard)  728g/1.62lbs (Tablet), 1516g/3.34lb (W/ keyboard)
Price  $1,499.00  $1,699.00  $1,899.00  $2,099.00  $2,699.00

Surface Book launch video:

The Surface Book is now available for pre-order from the Microsoft Store and will ship on October 26th.

Surface Pro 4

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The Surface Pro 4 is the updated version of Microsoft’s hugely successful Surface Pro 3 2-in-1 tablet PC. In terms of design, it largely borrowed from its predecessor. It still features a full magnesium build with silver sanded finish and still only has 1x USB port and 1x Mini Display Port. However, that’s where the similarity ends.

The Surface Pro 4 comes with a huge array of improvements. Let’s start from the exterior. The screen of the Surface Pro 4 has been upgraded to carry a resolution of 2763 x 1824p. While this sits just below the Surface Book’s 3000 x 2000p resolution, their Pixels-Per-Inch (PPI) are nearly identical since the Surface Pro 4 has a smaller 12″ screen. This means that it should deliver the same viewing experience as the Surface Book. The glass is now made with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 to be more durable than ever.

CPU Intel Core m3 Intel Core-i5 6200/6300U Intel Core-i5 6200/6300U Intel Core-i7 6560/6650U
Graphics Intel 515 Intel 520 Intel 520 Intel Iris
Storage 128GB 256GB 256GB 512GB
Display 12.3″ PixelSense 2763x1824p 13.5″ PixelSense 2763x1824p 13.5″ PixelSense 2763x1824p 13.5″ PixelSense 2763x1824p
RAM 8GB 8GB 16GB 8GB
Camera 5MP/8MP Front/Rear 5MP/8MP Front/Rear 5MP/8MP Front/Rear 5MP/8MP Front/Rear
Weight 728g/1.62lbs (Tablet) 786g/1.62lbs (Tablet) 786g/1.62lbs (Tablet) 786g/1.62lbs (Tablet)
Price $899.00 $1,299.00 $1,499.00 $1,599.00

The Surface Pro 4 has more robust internals as well. Just like the Surface Book, the Surface Pro 4 now uses Intel’s 6th Gen. Skylake U CPUs. However, it will rely on the integrated graphics as opposed to discrete graphics. Its maximum memory capacity has been bumped up. The top end models now comes with 16GB of RAM. The stereo speakers are now front-facing to deliver a more immerser audio experience.

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The last major revision went to the TypeCover keyboard. While the Surface Pro 3’s TypeCover served its purpose well, it offered a mediocre typing experience at best. With the Surface Pro 4, nearly every aspect of the TypeCover has been redesigned. The keyboard is now much more rigid to provide a sturdy base for typing. The keycaps are now chiclet shaped and the rubber dome switches have been thrown out in favor of quieter, more tactile scissor switches. The glass trackpad is 40% larger as well. The US version of the TypeCover also features a fingerprint reader.

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One more piece of good news is that all accessories for the Surface Pro 4 will be backwards compatible with the Surface Pro 3 and vice versa. Customers who purchased the decked out Surface Pro 3 won’t have to throw out their old TypeCover and the Surface Pen when upgrading to the Surface Pro 4.

The Surface Pro 4 is now available for pre-order in the Microsoft Store. Shipping date is set to be October 26. If you purchase online, you also have the option of customizing your device to beyond what the base models offer.

Surface Pro 4 launch video:

About The Author
Michael Chang
During the day Michael Chang is a Process Integration Engineer, where he researches and develops MEMS technologies for logic and memory testing. He has been a tech enthusiast for well over a decade and applies his analytic mind to both his reviews and work.

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