With the Surface 3 coming out just 24 hours ago, we thought it was time to look ahead a bit and think about what we’d like to see for the Surface Pro 4. It’s probably safe to say that the Surface Pro 4 will debut with Windows 10 which means it’s likely still months away. That’s ok though, because we can still dream. Here’s what some of the Pocketnow editors are dreaming about.
“The main package is right. Now perfect the details.”
The Surface Pro 3 is a great tablet and is as close to being a laptop replacement as anyone has gotten. The combination of power and portability is on par with or even ahead of the Macbook Air. It’s a damn good machine. But of course there is always some rom for improvement. Here’s a couple of things I’d like to see.
First of all, as I said in my review rebuttal of the Surface Pro 3, “Microsoft needs to figure out a way to make a digitizer a mouse replacement as much as it needs to figure out how to make a tablet a laptop replacement.” There was a bit too much contradiction in what each input device – mouse, pen, and finger – did that the others didn’t do. The pen needs to turn into the mouse absolutely.
Speaking of the pen, I’d love to see Microsoft slim that thing down even more and figure out a place in the chassis to put that pen. The Surface Pro 3 came with a sticker you had to mar the tablet with in order to hold the pen. Slim down the pen and put it in the body of the device so your users don’t have to put a sticker somewhere. Yuck.
Finally, I’d like to see the “laptop replacement” idea manifest in a docking station with keyboard that folds up like a laptop, but from which the tablet can detach. I want this to be an extra (reasonably inexpensive) accessory that does not come with the Surface. I know I pound the wardrum all the time about how a Surface needs a keyboard to be a laptop replacement, which is why the Surface itself should come with a touch or type cover in the box. The laptop dock would be an additional accessory that would provide a keyboard and extended battery. This would basically turn the Surface into a monitor on a laptop, not unlike the 2-in-1’s today, but better because it’s a Surface.
“Keep the design the same but better battery and better performance.”
The Surface Pro 4 will probably have the same form factor as the Surface Pro 3 so that all of the accessories can be interchangeable. It will hopefully include a next generation x64 processor from Intel with better performance and better battery life. I hope the pen/stylus interface is improved. On the Surface Pro 3, the pen’s hover cursor would often lag behind the pen’s movement. The lag would go away when pressing and dragging the pen across the screen, but the hover-lag made it feel less responsive than it should. While the pressure levels are numerically a lot less than a Wacom-based digitizer, the difference wasn’t noticeable, though Microsoft could make a huge improvement by adding pen tilt sensitivity (and building that into the WinTab drivers used by most graphics applications).
In terms of accessories, I’m sure there will be some new keyboards. I know the touch keyboard from the original Surface wasn’t as popular as the type keyboard, but I really like the silent typing and thin profile. Perhaps we’ll see an even-more unique keyboard/touch cover implementation. How about a transparent touch cover?!
“I want it to actually replace my laptop. Bigger. Professional.”
What do I want from Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4? First off, let’s dig into that name, shall we?
It’s a Surface, which means it’s gotta be touchable. First and foremost this thing has got to be a tablet. No problem so far, right? That’s where the sticking point comes: “Pro”. Pro is short for “professional”. I’m not a casual user, I’m a professional, that means this device has got to do what I need to do. Fair enough?
I need a “convertible tablet” that’s got a keyboard which will stand up to a lot of typing – a LOT of typing. A really good keyboard is a given – if they keyboard isn’t fast, responsive, and comfortable, it may as well not have one. Next is the screen. I’ve already got an 11-inch laptop. For what I do, that screen is just too small. Perhaps I’m spoiled with my 22-inch monitor at home and my 27-inch monitor at my day job, but writing code, editing audio, and editing video are tasks that are greatly benefited by having a large viewing space – 13-inches or larger is a must.
I don’t need a tablet that’s cellular connected. In fact, I don’t want a tablet that’s cellular. Give me a good, solid WiFi connection, and I’m set. I want 2.4GHz and 5GHz support, and 801.11n and ac are on my short list. Uploading and downloading raw video take up a lot of bandwidth and really benefit from an 802.11ac connection. Also, make sure Bluetooth 4.x LE is included so I can hook up any headset, keyboard, mouse, or other peripheral that I need to.
Next are ports. I really want this thing to have as few ports as necessary. Give me a standard USB port, and a couple of those new-fangled USB Type-C ports, and that’s it. No audio ports, no video out ports, no proprietary power port. Just one legacy USB port and two Type-C ports, and that’s it. This will cut down on costs and will help standardize what’s in my carry bag.
Last, but certainly not least, is disk space. I want at least a 256GB SSD packed inside this puppy (and ideally 500GB). Video and audio take up a lot of space.
Is all that too much to ask for? Probably. Does that prevent me from wanting it? Not in the slightest!
Chief News Editor
“Hardware flexibility, even if it takes away from the form.”
The Surface Pro is already a full-fledged computer, so let’s embrace that role: for the Surface Pro 4, I want to see support for some standardized PC upgrades. Namely, I want the ability for the user to replace and upgrade system storage and RAM at their whim. Will that potentially detract from a smooth, panel-free exterior? Of course, but this isn’t some passive tablet designed for media consumption above all else; if it’s a proper computer, I want to see Microsoft treat it as such, even if that means taking a step backwards when it comes to aesthetics.
Continuing down that road, how about a removable battery, too? Even if Microsoft wants to keep the primary battery permanent, it could build the tablet to easily support snap-on battery backs that augment that one with some extra juice of their own. You’re never going to fully convince laptop users to embrace the tablet form factor until you start giving them the kind of hardware flexibility they expect.
“If I’m going to buy a Surface tablet, it absolutely has to…”
So that’s what we think. What’s on your wish list? If you had a hand in designing, packaging, and/or selling this device what would you do to make the Surface Pro 4 the creme de la creme? Sound off below and let’s talk it out.