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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.