(Pocket-lint) - It's Surface Pro 4 time, the latest tablet-meets-laptop product from Microsoft that is thinner, lighter and more powerful than its 2013 Surface Pro 3 predecessor. Here's everything you need to know.
Surface Pro 4: Design
The Surface Pro 4 maintains the same 292mm x 200mm footprint as the Surface Pro 3, so it's a large scale tablet.
However, at 8.4mm, the Pro 4 is 0.6mm thinner than the Pro 3. Panos Panay, Microsoft Corporate VP, said on stage at the Surface Pro 4 launch in New York that it could have been thinner still, but the company was determined to deliver full-size USB 3.0 in this pro-spec device.
Having the same footprint means existing Surface accessories work alongside the Pro 4. Perhaps you have an older Type Cover, it'll still work just fine with the Pro 4 - and as the keyboard isn't included in the box that could save you some cash. Although with a brand new backlit Type Cover (more on that under Accessories) we suspect you'll be tempted to upgrade to the latest one.
A brand new addition to the Surface series is a fingerprint scanner - however, as stated in the promo video, this is restricted to US customers only (and we can't fathom why). As Surface Pro 4 will come with Windows 10 Pro it will have all the biometric possibilities the software provides such as Windows Hello and its voice-activated sign-in. Well, if you're American anyway.
Surface Pro 4: Display
Despite being the same size when viewed front-on, the Surface Pro 4 squeezes in a 12.3-inch display - up from the Pro 3's 12-inch - all by trimming down the bezel size.
There's been a significant resolution hike too. The 12.3-inch panel is made up of 2736 x 1824 pixels (267ppi). That's a whole lot of detail.
The Surface Pro 4 only comes in the one 12.3-inch size, there's no sign of the rumoured 14-inch large or 8-inch mini versions - all sheer speculation from the rumour mill.
Surface Pro 4: Power
With the Surface Pro series Microsoft isn't interested in low power, hence avoiding the Intel Core M chipset. While that could make for a thinner, fanless design, it just wouldn't be as powerful.
And the Surface Pro 4 is all powerful. Featuring the sixth-generation (Skylake) Intel Core i5 (or i7) processor, paired with up to 16GB RAM (the standard model will come with 4GB), it's 30 per cent more powerful than the Surface Pro 3 and, Microsoft claims, twice as powerful as a MacBook Air. The use of Skylake makes sense for handling the higher resolution display in the Pro 4.
When it comes to storage it will be possible to have up to 1TB of flash storage too. Not that'll be the standard: local storage options will begin at 128GB, progressing through 256GB, and 512GB options too.
Surface Pro 4: Accessories
In a company blog post by Brian Hall, a Microsoft General Manager, it was made clear the Pro 3's accessories will be compatible with the Surface Pro 4. That means the existing Type Cover, Docking Station, and other infrastructure accessories - such as the power adapter, Ethernet adapter, and more - will work with the Pro 4.
But biggest news of all for the Pro 4 is the brand new Type Cover (and Pro 3 owners can benefit from this too). It's the slimmest Type Cover yet, but comes with integrated backlit keys pitched 19mm apart, delivering 1.3mm travel for a proper laptop-like typing experience. The integrated trackpad is 40 per cent larger than the previous Type Cover, with five-point touch to give more finger space and get the most out of the Windows 10 operating system.
Next up there's the included Pen, which introduced 1,024 pressure levels from the tip and an eraser on the rear. A lot like the Pencil by FiftyThree really. However, the Microsoft Pen magnetically clips to the side of the Surface and rather than recharge has its own battery for year-long juice. Sounds like having a spare battery in the drawer might be a good idea.
Surface Pro 4: Software and features
The Surface Pro 4 will ship with Windows 10 Pro. New features within the OS include an Internet Explorer replacement called Edge, which allows for markup within the browser windows - ideal for use with the Pen. It's possible to grab selections from one application and drag them into others with ease, all with your own notes and scribbles attached.
Windows 10 also means Continuum, the hand-over software that makes picking up from desktop or phone is easy. Add Cortana, the voice-controlled virtual assistant, the ability to stream games from an Xbox One, and there's plenty more on offer in the latest OS.
Surface Pro 4: Release date and pricing
The Surface Pro 4 will be released October 26, with prices starting at £749 for the entry-level (Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) model. We suspect that to elevate significantly for the top Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD model.