Microsoft Surface Pro 4 12 Inch Review

Despite some very evident design flaws, the most notable one being the lackluster display, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was a runaway success. So much so, that it spurred Microsoft into going the OEM route. After very little time on the drawing board, we have the fourth iteration of the Surface Pro, ready to blaze new trails. But does it? Reviews on the Pro 3 are a mixed bag, but the much improved Surface Pro 4 fares considerably better in many key areas.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4 12 Inch Review
When you have a Surface Pro launching once every eight months, you are kind of forced to believe that there aren’t going to be any groundbreaking new developments. Eight months are too little time to ramp up anything from the ground up. Isn’t it? But Microsoft has clearly upped the ante here. For the new one gives you ample reasons to consider an upgrade from a Pro 3 or ditch the brand loyalty to other brands. At the forefront are a sleeker form factor, a slightly bigger display, better responsiveness and a brilliant screen that gives the MacBook Air a sucker punch. If this is the first time you are witnessing Microsoft’s 2-in-one tablet/laptop hybrid, then get ready to drool.

Sleek, fast and bright


Out of the box, you might feel that the Surface Pro 4 looks very similar to its predecessor. But upon a closer glance, you can spot the differences. Microsoft’s new logo gets a nod ahead of the Surface Pro logo. The casing is still the same all-magnesium one though.

The new display is 12.3 inches and it is incredibly sleek at just 8.4 mm. The core M model weighs a paltry 766g while the I model weighs an extra 20g for the fan. This is as portable and lightweight as it can get for a 2-in-one. If you opt for the keyboard cover and the stylus pens, it weighs 1.13 kg which again, is pretty light when compared to other rivals.

It may still seem a tad bulky for use as a stand-alone tablet especially if comparisons are drawn to the Samsung TabPro S or Huawei’s new offering, the Matebook. But hey, there’s only so much that you can cram into a feature rich device like this. Does the reduced thickness come at a tradeoff? Thankfully, it does not. The USB port is retained in the Surface Pro 4.


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According to Microsoft, the reduced dimension is courtesy of the missing capacitive Windows button which was rendered obsolete with the arrival of Windows 10 and thanks to Microsoft’s PixelSense technology, which also has an important part to play in the enhanced responsiveness of the tablet.

The screen resolution is increased to 2,736 x 1,824 which delivers a stunning 267 PPI, making this one of the most pixel-dense tablets in the market currently. (The iPad Pro is only 264 PPI). While we don’t really get swayed by increased pixels on paper, one look at the screen of the Surface Pro 4 and you will notice the enhanced colour accuracy and luminosity.

This will be one of the biggest draws for artists who use it primarily as a graphics tablet, motivating them to look beyond their Wacom devices. Also, the Pro 4’s kickstand makes it extremely easy to adjust the device to almost any angle from 22 to 150 degrees. The tablet stays rock steady and there isn’t the slightest wobble at any of these angles.

Extremely responsive & an improvised Surface Pen


We briefly spoke about the enhanced responsiveness before. Here’s what it translates into. Even a single stroke with the surface pen brings 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. For a graphics artist, this delivers a fluid experience while creating design-intensive artwork.

What makes this even better is a revamped surface pen (not included in the package) that has been designed more like a pencil. It is more comfortable to hold and features tiny magnetic strips that adhere to the screen. A new and improved eraser button doubles up as the eraser and a shortcut to summon Cortana or open Onenote or just grab a screenshot. Slick! The best part is that the pen does not strain your wrists or your fingers despite being feature rich. This is truly, a standout of the graphic experience with the Surface Pro 4.

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Well, this just keeps getting better. The awkward keyboard experience that was one of the biggest niggles of the Surface Pro range just got a much-needed boost. The Surface Pro 4 comes with a swanky new type cover (backward compatible with the Pro 3 and an optional purchase) that provides a more responsive typing experience. The chiclet styled layout is spacious and your fingers don’t grope trying to find the keys which brings it a notch closer to the true laptop experience. Intel's 6th-Generation Core chips (With 4GB or 8GB RAM) and a 1GB Iris Graphics card complete what is truly an ingenious package.

What we liked the most about it


We were hard pressed to pick a list of favourite features from a device that is packed to the brim with them. But here is a shortlist of some that stood out the most.
  • Sleek form factor and light weight
  • Larger display at 12.3 inches
  • Better screen resolution at 2,736 x 1,824 with 267 PPI
  • Bright, luminous and true colour accuracy
  • Incredibly responsive with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Redesigned surface pen
  • Revamped keyboard and type cover
  • Extremely fluid user experience for both tablet as well as graphical use
  • Excellent battery life


What could have been better


Microsoft’s attempts look clearly directed to push closer to the laptop replacement category for its Surface line. And despite the super-impressive performance, the Surface Pro 4 is not really the ideal choice for gaming. It lags behind, especially when you throw resource intensive games at it. Another feature that we were not too impressed with is the magnetic storage for the surface pen on the flanks. This is like a disaster waiting to happen and there is a real possibility of the pen being knocked off as you move around.

Verdict


Despite a few very minor flaws, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is hands down the best 2 in one tablet that money can buy right now. The customer ratings are top-notch on most online retail portals and only back up what we have discovered in this review. Irrespective of whether you intend to use it as a tablet or for graphical use, get ready to be awed with the performance. For further reading, check out what Techradar has to say about the Pro 4 in their extensive review.

Yuntab E706 Seven Inch Phablet

Yuntab E706 Seven Inch Phablet
Yuntab Tablets have been mentioned here a few times. They are very cheap to buy, and middle of the road when it comes to performance. One Yuntab that hasn't been talked about here is the E706. It's a Phablet / Tablet hybrid that's fitted with dual SIM card slots. So amongst other phone functions, such as using your phones data to connect to the Internet, it can also be used to make and take phone calls. Other than that it also doubles up as a pretty good Tablet for general everyday usage. Making it a great, cost-effective Christmas stocking filler. Take a look at the latest model.

It has quite a strange specification. On the downside, the Android Lollipop operated E706 only has 8GB of internal storage space, the standard low quality dual cameras, and a low (But IPS) screen resolution. But aside from those mediocre features it is packing quite a good specification considering the price. Regarding the 8GB of storage, a 32GB SD Card is so cheap to buy these days that it makes sense to just buy one straight away with your purchase. 32GB is the maximum amount of additional storage this Phablet can hold. Need a device with a much bigger storage capacity? Take a look at the 400GB Neocore E1.

The Yuntab E706 has an A7 Quad Core Processor running at 1.3GHz. 1GB RAM also helps it chug along rather smoothly when performing general tasks. Surprisingly, this model also has a Quad Core Graphics Processor, so it's actually quite a good device for video related activities (Netflix, YouTube, Catch up TV) and even gaming to a certain extent. Excellent device for travelling with. It's capable, easy to live with, and if you lose it, or it gets damaged, it's very cheap and easy to replace.

Build quality is rather nice, and it has the added bonus of being 3G compatible. Furthermore, we see other features which we have come to expect from a device like this. Such as GPS, a Micro SD card slot, Micro USB port, Bluetooth and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This model works with Sky Go. For some reason this Phablet is more highly regarded in Canada than it is in the UK. It's no iPad Mini, but for the price this is a Phabulous little deal.

Buy An Apple iPad 4 Mini 64GB Tablet

iPad 4 Mini-64gb-whiteEight Inch Tablets are widely considered as the perfect size for most uses. Small and light enough to still be portable, but big enough to make pass times like streaming and watching movies an enjoyable experience. At 7.9", the Apple iPad 4 Mini falls just under the eight inch size range. However, for what it gives away in size, which is minute anyway, it more than makes up for in other areas.

The screen alone beats almost everything else in its category and beyond. If you're looking for something at the pinnacle of small screen technology, look no further. The deepness and most colour abundant champion of small screens is the Apple iPad Mini 4. The quality can only be described as amazing, and the colour gamut range really is top shelf.

Excellent Display


The Apple iPad Mini 3 has an excellent display, and although they both share the same resolution PPI, the Mini 4 beats it in colour gamut by over 25%. Such an excellent colour range and razor-sharp clarity from the 2048 x 1536 laminated IPS retina screen. The operating system installed on this model is iOS 9.2.#

iPads are superior to most


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As with all Apple iPad's, the build quality is superb. It's light in weight (around 300 Grams) and slim beyond belief. In the hand, top quality brushed aluminium is a far cry from anything else that isn't finished using the same material. As crazy as this might sound to some, it's such a beautiful device to handle that it makes you want to treat it delicately with care and respect.

Even more worthy of respect is the performance. In a world that see's more Cores as being better (Which a lot of the time isn't the case), would you believe that the iPad Mini 4th Generation still uses a Two Core Processor? Well, it does. It uses a Dual Core A8 (64‑bit) Processor @ 1.5 GHz. Which goes to prove, more Cores doesn't always mean better performance.

Adding more horsepower to the overall specification is the Quad Core Graphics Processor (PowerVR GX6450) and 2GB of RAM. The battery life from the advanced Lithium Polymer 5124 mAh battery is also impressive.

This model (64GB) is WiFi only (No 3G or 4G). However, although not a new technology, the Mini 4th Generation supports the faster WiFi IEEE 802.11ac, as well as 802.11 a/b/g/n. This means you can use either 2.4GHz WiFI, or the faster and less crowded 5GHz frequency band. Please be aware: If you haven't already, you will have to upgrade to a faster router via your Internet Service Provider if you want to take advantage of this feature. It's not automatically activated once you use your Mini 4 on your WiFi network.

However, it's not really needed if you are happy with your Internet connection. The sound quality of the speakers is superior to quite a lot of devices of similar size. Also built-in is a front facing 1.2mp camera (720p) and an 8mp iSight rear camera, which is capable of so much. Including slow motion, burst mode, Panorama, and quality as high as 1080p.

More features and considerations


The inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth 4.2 and Touch ID do soften the blow slightly, but the lack of easy, convenient connectivity can't be ignored. There is no USB Port, no HDMI Port and no Micro SD card slot. Of course, they are ways round these limitations but some require additional purchases, and that is a bit disappointing really. Limitations aside, this is one of the best eight inch tablets out there. Colours available: Gold, Silver and Space Grey.

Ready to buy the Apple iPad 4 Mini? Make sure to get a case / cover with your purchase. You'll be glad you did. If you want to save some money but still get the full Apple experience, the iPad Air 2 is well worth considering. Budget not an issue? Apple iPad Pro is the way to go!

Fusion5® 108 10.6 Inch Octa Core Tablet

The Fusion5® 108 is definitely one of the Tablets that offers the best "Bang for your buck" within its price bracket. 10.6 Inch screen means this isn't for those who like the smaller, more concealable devices. It's still very portable, but this is for the people who want maximum viewing area without having to spend iPad Pro (12.9‑Inch) money. Of course, this is not on the level of an iPad Pro, as the price reflects, but for the money it is a very capable and pleasant device to use. As hundreds of users have discovered.

Fusion5® 108 Jedi
Screen colours, viewing angles, and sharpness are really good. It's very easy for newbie tablet users to set up and get up and running quite quickly. The performance is perfect for those who want a smooth experience while performing the tasks most us now do online on a daily basis, like social media, catch up TV, YouTube, emailing, Netflix, browsing the Internet and playing the odd game or two. The touch screen is sensitive and very responsive. It also has adequate build quality, better than average battery life (Could be better considering the batteries high-capacity), and comes with minimal bloatware installed.

The Bare Bones Spec


Android Lollipop comes pre-installed on this device, and can be updated to Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with minimal fuss. The core specification consists of an A83T Octa Core Processor, 1366 x 768 10.6 Inch IPS display, 2GB RAM, 16GB Internal storage and a 7200mAh battery capacity.

With the 108 you also have dual cameras (2mp front + 5mp back), a Micro SD slot (64GB max), headphone jack, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, and the added benefit of having two internal speakers rather than one (Could be a bit louder). Connectivity is great with the 108. A very convenient full-sized USB port, along with a micro USB and mini HDMI, gives the user many options for connecting whatever device they need to without any hassle.

The 108 is versatile. And while it does have a pretty good A83T Octa Core processor, it also has a respectable GPU (Graphics Processor). This model uses the PowerVR SGX544 GPU. These specifications, coupled with 2GB RAM not only make it a great tablet for watching high-definition films and everyday multi-tasking, but also make it a decent, cost-effective tablet for gaming.

The Core Argument


8 Cores are not necessarily better than 4. In some cases more Cores can mean less battery life and, in some instances, a slower response performance. But this model has DVFS, which stands for Dynamic Voltage Frequency Scaling. This ultimately helps conserve energy, and allows for faster loading / starting up of programs and processes. Also, when it comes to Processors, let's not forget, many models of Apple iPad are actually Dual Core, and look how well they perform.

No GPS


There are a few Tablets from Fusion5® which are all very similar to the 108. You have Quad Core models 104 and 104A. Both of them have a 10.1" IPS screen and do have built-in GPS. The Octa Core 108 does not have GPS, but it does have the bigger, higher resolution screen. If GPS is a feature you need, then the 104 or 104A would be the more suitable device.If you're looking for a Windows based tablet from this brand, a good model worth considering is the FWIN232.

Considerations


It's closest competitor, other than it's own family members (As talked about above), is the NeoCore E1. Similarly priced and sharing some of the same features, they are comparable to each other. Both are at the top of the tree for the price point, and it will come down to personal preference as to which one you end up purchasing. Do you want a glass screen rather than plastic, and a higher amount of maximum SD storage space (up to 200GB), go with the E1. Looking for the biggest viewing area, although not by much, go for the 108. You can't go far wrong with either model considering the price. And the warranty offered by both Fusion5® and NeoCore just seals the deal.

Does Artwork Have a Digital Future

In an exhibition held last year in London, 11 painters showcased their latest digital artworks which were created using a graphics tablet instead of the conventional pencil, paint and paper. Some of the works were so flawlessly designed that it would take the keen eye of an expert to spot the difference between it and a real painting.

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Perfectly done to within the minutest of details, intricate patterns, fine nuances of the brush and impeccable shading dominated the exhibition. And it goes without saying that most of the people were left dumbstruck with the stunning display. As expected, it also created a few doubts in the minds of everyone who was privy to the artwork.

Does the digital era usher the end of art as we now know it? Is the idea of an artist with his ragged clothes splattered with paint and peering into his canvas too mundane to be true in this age?

The rise of digital art

Today, an artist’s workshop looks different. Picture a young artist making deft strokes on his graphics tablet, like the Wacom 13HD, for example, which happens to be one of the most popular graphics tablets in the market currently.

The creation comes alive on the large computer monitor in front of him. A bright and clear screen that gives a precise representation of the colours and hues.

Digital art empowers the artist with tools and abilities that they did not have access to in the world of conventional art. Erasing a false stroke for example, is now a possibility. Undoing a mistake is as easy as clicking a keyboard shortcut. The artist can play with layers adding more depth to their works as their creativity unfolds and just delete the layer if it doesn’t seem like what was anticipated.

The potential and the power of digital art are immense and this is one of the main reasons why artists are slowly transitioning towards it.

As of now, a significant percentage of the population has already made the switch and a lot more are expected to follow as graphics tablets continue to evolve. The pressure sensitivity has already undergone a sea of change as compared to the early graphic tablet models. If you have never tried some of the newer Wacom models, then you have no idea what you are missing out on.

What does the future hold


Rather than looking at digital artwork as a successor to conventional art, it should be looked upon as a new tool that lets artists explore their creativity and venture into uncharted turf. All of the advantages that it brings to the table are impossible to ignore.

And the commercial potential is definitely there too. The market may still be nascent and the idea of paying astronomical sums for artwork created on a graphics tablet and a computer may seem alien.

But there are telltale signs that it is definitely warming up to digital art. For example, David Hockney’s ‘Arrival of Spring’ which is a digital artwork has sold 25 limited edition copies priced at $28,000 each. For now, digital art is here to stay, and we are not complaining.

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