Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Personally, I was quite impressed with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. This iteration of the surface pretty much solved most of the gripes I had with the original surface tablets (mostly Windows 8). Therefore, I had great expectations with for the upcoming Surface Pro 4, and I was not let down.
The form factor of the SP4 is very similar to the previous generation. Other than new colors, unless you’re extremely discerning, you probably won’t notice the slightly larger display and the slightly smaller bezel. The display hardware is a not too shabby 267 PPi with a 2763 x 1824 resolution, comparable to Apple’s “Retina” displays. This results in a 3:2 aspect ratio. The rest of the Surface’s hardware is configurable. Processors range from Intel’s Skylake Core M and i3 - i7. RAM runs the gamut from 4GB to 16GB. Otherwise the Surface Pro 4 packs pretty much what you’ve come to expect from a tablet: 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, 802.11ac wifi, bluetooth 4.2, etc. The only missing features are a lack of cellular antennas and physical keyboard (which will set you back $130 extra).
Probably the biggest differentiating factor is the addition of Windows 10. Not Windows RT, or any other strange tablet computer hybrid. Just strait Windows 10, and this is a great thing. You don’t have to worry about the availability of Windows mobile apps, as any standard desktop app will run. Due to this fact, you’re probably going to be using the Surface Pro 4 in desktop mode, as opposed to tablet mode. In desktop mode you get the benefit of the new and improved Type Cover with a 40% larger glass trackpad. This Type Cover rights the wrong of the incredible tiny trackpad of the Surface Pro 3. Though, if you are more of a note-taking creative type, then you’ll probably be inclined to use the included Surface Pen to navigate the UI.
The Surface Pro 4 is an excellent mobile computing option. If you’re doing any productivity work, the inclusion of Windows 10 and the Surface Pen is a no brainer. However, missing cellular options, and an extra $130 for the Type Cover are big knocks against the Surface.
Apple iPad Pro
Apple’s enterprise and creative tablet behemoth, the iPad Pro, has made it’s debut. Can it replace your laptop? That depends on your situation. Either way, don’t expect the same amount of utility that OS X offers.
The overall design of the iPad Pro matches the current lineup of the iPad Air and the iPad Mini. The only physical difference (besides size) being 4 speakers instead of two and the addition of 3 circles along the side of the device for optional keyboards. The display is a whopping 12.9” Retina display with a 264 PPi that matches the iPad Air 2. The resolution is 2732 x 2048 with a 4:3 ratio, perfect for watching media. For processing we get Apple’s new 64-bit A9X chip which is “desktop class.” RAM comes in at 4GB and storage is available in either 32GB or 128GB. While the pickings are slim, at least the insulting 16GB option this years iPhone 6S came with is not present. Otherwise, everything else is what you’ve come to expect from Apple: 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, AC wifi, Bluetooth 4.2, 10 hours of battery life, and available cellular antennas. The iPad Pro is a tablet far before it is a laptop, but if you desire the physical keyboard a laptop brings, Apple now offers the Smart Keyboard for $169.00. The Smart Keyboard is an origami mix of a physical keyboard and Apple’s Smart Cover. It offers a few new shortcuts, but otherwise it’s simply a physical version of the software keyboard.
The iPad Pro ships with iOS 9.1 and multitasking support, which Apple says was built specifically with the iPad Pro in mind. The biggest thing to keep in mind if you’re considering an iPad Pro, is that it still runs iOS. Some people are quite productive on their iPads, and split screen multitasking will likely improve their productivity even more. But, you’re not going to get the same desktop tools and utilities you would expect from Windows or OS X on the iPad. Though Microsoft has souped up their Office 365 apps for the new iPad. (iWork is free and just as capable in my opinion)
The real draw (no pun intended) of the iPad Pro is the availability of Apple’s new stylus, the Apple Pencil. If you’re an artist, engineer or writer, the Apple Pencil is a seriously tempting piece of hardware. It will set you back $99.00, but it will be money well spent. The Pencil writes extremely well. There is virtually no perceptible lag, and the way it drags across the glass of the iPad Pro feels similar to that of a pencil on paper. The Pencil is pressure sensitive and can create lines of varying thickness depending on how hard you press, or the angle at which you are writing. The Apple Pencil comes with a male lightning port, so you can plug it into the iPad Pro for a charge. Apple says that 15 seconds of charge equates to 30 minutes of use, or a full charge will last you 12 hours.
The iPad Pro is most definitely the best iPad there is. It’s features and accessories make it a super compelling machine. But, it is limited by iOS itself. It’s just a tablet, so don’t expect a laptop. If you’re a creative who draws a lot, takes notes all the time, or does A/V work, the iPad Pro will suit you nicely as a desktop compliment, not a replacement. If you’re a productivity guru in the business scene, the Surface Pro will probably do you better. Both of them will set you you back ~$1100.00 depending on configurations. Whatever tablet you choose, make sure you choose Shatter Buggy to repair it.