Choosing Between Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

Choosing Between Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4
Choose Between a Laptop and a Tablet
They Both Work Well With the Surface Pen
Both Devices Run Windows 10
There's Some Overlap in Capability
There Are Differences in Processing Power
Surface Books Has an Edge in Graphics Power
Battery Life Is Another Differentiating Factor
Don't Forget About the Typing Experience
Surface Dock Compatibility Is Neat
It Comes Down to Price and Value
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Choosing Between Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

Both Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 could be appealing options for corporate customers. This slide show looks at their key similarities and distinctions.

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Choose Between a Laptop and a Tablet

The Surface Book is a laptop that comes with a hinge, allowing it to be converted into a tablet. The Surface Pro 4, however, is a tablet that connects to a keyboard that can also be used as a stand and cover. They both have similar functions, but Microsoft is quick to make that distinction in its own comparison of the products.

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They Both Work Well With the Surface Pen

Microsoft bundles its Surface Pen stylus with both the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. With help from the Surface Pen, users can annotate on the screens, color in objects and even produce shading effects. The Surface Pen adds a new dimension to working inside Windows and provides some extra features users won't get with a mouse or their fingers.

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Both Devices Run Windows 10

Windows 10 Pro comes in both devices. While some could argue that Surface Book will run Windows 10 Pro a bit faster, thanks to its more powerful processor, the software experience will be the same on both the Surface Book 4 and Surface Pro.

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There's Some Overlap in Capability

While Microsoft tries hard to make the distinction between Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, there are actually several similarities between the devices. After all, the Surface Book can technically be used as a laptop or a tablet, thanks to its hinged design. And since the Surface Pro 4 works with an attachable keyboard, users can use the slate like a notebook. Add in the Surface Pen support and Windows 10 Pro, and the devices look more and more alike.

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There Are Differences in Processing Power

The way users may interact with the devices may not be different, but the power differences are significant. The Surface Book is available with sixth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors. Those chips typically work quite well with higher-end applications. The Surface Pro 4 also comes with support for Intel Core i5 and i7, but its base model ships with the markedly less powerful Intel Core m3. Microsoft itself describes the Surface Book is the "most powerful" Surface in its line. The Surface Pro 4, meanwhile, provides a "balance of size and power."

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Surface Books Has an Edge in Graphics Power

On the graphics side, the differences between the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are even starker. The Surface Book runs with Intel's HD Graphics 520 for the Core i5 model, but can be bumped to an Nvidia GeForce GPU with 1GB of memory. The Surface Pro 4 starts out with Intel HD graphics 515 on the m3 version, and tops out at Intel's Iris graphics for the Core i7 version. Those who want to a graphics-intensive device, in other words, will find a better fit with the Surface Book.

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Battery Life Is Another Differentiating Factor

Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 promises up to 9 hours of video playback, which means users will get a few more hours out of the battery during normal use. The Surface Book, however, offers up to 12 hours of video playback, pushing its normal-use battery life even higher. If battery life matters, choose the Surface Book.

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Don't Forget About the Typing Experience

Microsoft has made considerable improvements to the keyboard that connects to the Surface Pro 4. Indeed, one could argue that it delivers one of the better tablet typing experiences on the market. However, it's no replacement for a standard laptop keyboard such as the one offered with the Surface Book. If typing matters, it's tough for the Surface Pro 4 to take on the Surface Book.

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Surface Dock Compatibility Is Neat

Both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book support Surface Dock. The peripheral, which costs $200, connects to a Surface and effectively turns the device into a desktop PC by adding several ports, including two Mini DisplayPorts, a Gigabit Ethernet port and four USB 3.0 ports, among others.

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It Comes Down to Price and Value

The base Surface Pro 4 model goes for $899, though customers who want the 256GB Intel Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM will pay $1,799. Prices are higher when the tablet is further customized. The Surface Book is much more expensive. The base model starts at $1,499, with its top-end option costing $3,199. Depending on the model customers choose, the devices will ship between now and Feb. 5.

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