Best Surface Pro 4 Alternatives

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Microsoft's Surface helped set the standard for 2-in-1s, and the new Surface Pro 4 wants to stay ahead of the pack with a stunning PixelSense display, faster performance and a much improved Type Cover. But the competition isn't standing still. Everyone from Apple and Dell to HP and Lenovo is aiming to knock the Surface Pro 4 off its pedestal ─ and each foe has its own secret weapon.

Do any of these would-be Surface Killers have a shot? Here's how they compare.

Apple iPad Pro

Secret Weapon: Apple Pencil

The iPad Pro's huge, 12.9-inch display, which boasts more than 5 million pixels, turns heads. But it's the optional $99 Apple Pencil that has creative types psyched. This super-powered stylus is optimized for 3D design and illustration, and its sensors measure both pressure and tilt. An optional $169 Smart Keyboard will help you make the most of Office 365 for iPad, and the accessory folds over to become a cover. However, the iPad Pro starts with just 32GB of storage, and iOS 9 isn't as versatile as Windows 10.

Dell XPS 12

Secret Weapon: No-Fuss Magnetic Design

The XPS 12 focuses on an easier way to transform from laptop to tablet mode and back again. By using magnets, you can lift the 12-inch display out of the dock using just one hand. The trade-off is that you get only one position for the gorgeous full-HD (or optional 4K) display; you can't tilt it back. The typing experience is awesome, though, thanks to a full 1.9 mm of travel. In fact, we've called it the best keyboard on a 2-in-1 yet.

HP Spectre X2

Secret Weapon: A Smarter Kickstand

One of the Surface Pro's claims to fame is its multi-position kickstand, but HP goes one step further with its Spectre x2. A flick of a switch ejects the kickstand, so you don't have to manually pull it out as you do on the Surface. More important, the thinness and location of the kickstand allow HP to make room for a larger battery, with a rated runtime of up to 10 hours. The Spectre x2's comfy keyboard (with 1.5 mm of travel) is another plus, as is the built-in Bang & Olufsen audio.


Lenovo Miix 700

Secret Weapon: Price

The Lenovo Miix 700 undercuts the 2-in1 competition with a starting price of $749, which includes a keyboard cover. This is no ordinary keyboard cover, either ─ it offers plenty of travel and a snappy feel. Another highlight are the dual watchband hinges, which you can use to position the kickstand from 95 to 135 degrees. The Miix 700 also ships with a higher-res display than the new Dell XPS 12 and HP Spectre X2 standard. However, HP and Dell included more storage to start.


Bottom Line: Does Anything Beat Surface Pro 4?

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but each of these 2-in-1 devices do something different or better than the Surface Pro 4. The iPad Pro has a bigger display and more advanced stylus (but pricier keyboard). The Lenovo Miix 700 is cheaper than the new Surface; the Dell XPS 12 makes it easier to switch modes; and the HP Spectre x2 should have more battery life.

However, only the Surface Pro 4 gives you the option of full-powered Core i5 and Core i7 processors, as well as 512GB and 1TB storage options. In other words, those willing to spend more can get high-end performance. The Surface Pro 4 is also the only 2-in-1 in this comparison that ships with a digital pen, which is useful for taking notes, drawing and marking up Web pages. But if you want a keyboard included with your 2-in-1 for a lower price, there are compelling alternatives.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • roman i. drozd Says:

    I received Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft to test this item. In your presentation of alternatives I don't understand a few things:
    1. No clear information about Stylus (Pen) possibilities in alternative models. The Pen decides about many useful applications, especially for musicians and painters, etc.
    2. Start price of Dell XPS12 is minimum 1300$...

    I explain - this test makes a sense with items having Pen and Touch screen. Only in this situation your test can be reliable.

  • Hifihedgehog Says:

    Btw, you forgot to mention that the MIIX 700's keyboard can also operate wirelessly.

  • Hifihedgehog Says:

    Did Lenovo raise the starting price for the MIIX 700 or something? It was announced as $699 several months ago.

  • Shakes Says:

    Can you please explain to me how the iPad Pro's pen is better? The only supposed advantage is the tilt thing... Nothing else. Meanwhile the Surface Pen has better battery life, can control some functions of the device and has an eraser

  • Jonathan Becker Says:

    I just bought a Toshiba z20t hybrid, and find that it is both a better hybrid than the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. Between the trackpoint on the keyboard, the matte screen, the battery in both the base and tablet, a full range of ports on the tablet, and TWO Wacom pens, it's a very substantial machine. It may not be "Skylake" or whatever, but I think the CPU is sometimes irrelevant compared to the usage scenarios.

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