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Perhaps a “Surface Pro 4” will debut at the same time or soon after Windows 10 launches. Here’s what we’d like to see in the Surface Pro 4.
Surface Pro 4.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 has become a surprise hit, bringing in more than $900 million in revenue, according to industry analysts, and generating such enthusiasm that fans are looking forward to the next version. The Surface Pro 3 was designed to present Windows 8.1 at its best, so it’s expected that its successor will serve as a showcase for Windows 10, which could come out as early as this summer. Perhaps a “Surface Pro 4” will debut at the same time or soon after Windows 10 launches. Here’s what we’d like to see in the Surface Pro 4.
A better camera.
In our review of the Surface Pro 3, we found that its rear camera was unable to focus on objects within a few feet of it. That’s unfortunate because it means you cannot use it to capture an image of a sheet of paper with text on it. For the Surface Pro 4, we hope it has an improved rear camera that would easily let us do this. This would make the tablet even more appealing in an office environment or for work-related tasks if you can use it to quickly snap images of documents to archive.
Another keyboard option.
Generally, we like the Type Cover: Surface Pro 3’s keyboard (sold separately) that also serves as a protective cover for the tablet. However, the keys can feel slightly mushy if you don’t type with your fingers curved and wrists raised. For the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft may want to consider offering a second keyboard with keys more like a traditional notebook. The design should have sturdy hinges so that the Surface Pro 4 can attach to it (perhaps by strong magnets) without the need for propping the tablet up by its built-in kickstand, which is what has to be done now with the Surface Pro 3 when using the Type Cover.
A (slightly) larger screen.
Speculation has it that the Surface Pro 4 might come in two screen sizes, possibly 8 inches and 14 inches. Microsoft considered releasing a 7 inch Surface Pro 3, but cancelled it. For the fourth Surface, the company may be wise to repeat this strategy.
We like Surface Pro 3’s 12-inch diagonal size and 3:2 aspect ratio, because it approximates the dimensions of an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch sheet (though just a bit smaller). To continue making the Surface appeal to the business market, the Surface Pro 4 should have a screen that’s perhaps a little bit larger to match the size of a standard business letter.
Processors that run cooler.
The Surface Pro 3 is available running an Intel i3, i5 or i7 processor, but there have been reports of the i7 model running too hot and therefore glitching out. Fortunately, it’s likely that the Surface Pro 4 will use the new Intel Core M line -- powerful processors which were designed for slim, mobile devices, and they don’t use fans.
Continued compatibility with Windows desktop apps.
The first two generations of Surfaces were available in two varieties: with processors that could run standard Windows desktop applications (the Surface Pro), and ones that could only run only Windows Store apps (Surface.) This was certainly confusing to customers, so Microsoft wisely didn’t release a “Surface 3.” This made the Surface Pro 3 a unique item onto itself, lessened brand confusion, and met buyers’ expectations. So the fourth generation Surface should not include a “Surface 4.”
More software for the digital pen.
The Surface Pen is great; sketching and writing with it on the Surface Pro 3’s display conveys a close sensation of using an ink pen on paper. The tablet doesn’t include much software specially designed for it, except for the OneNote app which implements a UI to make using it with the Surface Pen easier. So we’d like to see more applications for the Surface Pen, such as a tool that can take your PDFs or Word documents and let them be signed by someone using the Surface Pen.
Finally, don’t mess with its good looks.
We really like the Surface Pro 3’s case -- its smooth flat surfaces machined from magnesium feel cool to the touch, and even the hinge mechanism of its kickstand gives a sense of solid mechanical design when you pop it out to prop up the tablet. Perhaps the Surface Pro 4 will be slightly thinner and lighter (the Surface Pro 3 is 0.36 inches thin and weighs 1.76 pounds), but overall we see little that needs to be improved.