Choosing Between Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-01-25
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Choosing Between Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
 

Organizations seeking mobile devices to power their employees' activities in or out of the office may need to look no further than at Microsoft, as the company has developed both the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book mobile computers with the enterprise in mind. Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 is a tablet at heart, but can be quickly converted into a laptop, thanks to its attachable keyboard. The Surface Book, Microsoft's latest major entrant into the marketplace, is also a two-in-one device, as a hinge enables it to be converted from a laptop into a tablet. In either case, the products are opportunities for Microsoft to appeal to an enterprise that is increasingly looking for mobile computers capable of keeping employees working while on the go. In this eWEEK slide show, we examine the key similarities and distinctions between the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, as well as shed some light on why the devices could be attractive options for any IT decision-maker seeking a lightweight device for employees.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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