Some other changes are quite noticeable from the design, too, and one is the omission of the Windows logo on the frame, a move which appears to add a little size to the screen, which is now not just a 12 inch display, but a 12.3 inch screen utilizing “PixelSense” technology.
Yes, that’s a buzzword, or a buzz-name, anyway, but it also stands for something more than a new way of saying Retina, because for Microsoft, PixelSense demonstrates a new set of technology with a higher contrast ratio, wider colour gamut supporting the full sRGB range, and a minimal distance between the display and the Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protecting the display, with that last part measuring 0.4mm, something Microsoft says is the thinnest ever used on a device.
PixelSense isn’t just a screen, as there’s a custom processor, the G5, which can work with the display to figure out if it’s a pen or a hand touching it and accommodate the control based on that input.
In action, we found the stylus was a little quicker than our fingers, though unless you’re a stickler for total punctuality, you’d probably never even realise it.
Back to the screen, though, because the clarity is awe-inspiring, with the 12.3 inch display using a 2736×1824 display. That’s a larger resolution than Apple has managed in its MacBook Pro 13 with Retina, and as such offers more 40 more pixels per inch in detail than the slightly bigger MacBook.
You might think that you won’t notice it, but the detail is obvious to us, with clearer icons, less pixel-peeping, and an almost pristine look to it.
Seriously, we’ll take screens like this from now on, because it is just utterly lovely. Everything looks better on the Surface Pro 4’s display. More like this, please.
The sound is also better, and while the previous generation features front-facing side speakers, Microsoft appears to have tuned these, as they’re now just so much clearer, something you’ll pick up when Microsoft plays its default Windows sounds. We don’t normally like them, but again, they’re just so bright and bubbly that we found ourselves not being annoyed by their presence anymore.
Performance is the next area to improve, and in our review model, the Core i5 rarely felt like it was missing a beat, offering solid enough processing power to let us do the regular productivity and workday activities, but also a little bit more, getting in some image processing in Photoshop and sound-editing work via Audition.
That’s the thing about a Surface tablet, because this ain’t your ordinary iPad, Android, or content consumption device. Rather, this is built to make and create, and with the underlying chip and RAM inside set to 8GB in our review model, you can bet we got straight into that.
Few hiccups could be found here, and for once, the operating system design matched the hardware design, with the excellence that is Windows 10 and its combination of mouse and finger-based menus allowing us to get around the operating system clearly and easily. We prefer working outside of tablet mode in the not quite named “desktop mode”, but Surface handles each swimmingly.
That generally sits well with Microsoft’s “ain’t broke, don’t fix” design, because last year’s performed very well, and this year’s appears to, also.