Introducing Surface Pro 4 and what is means for Education!

Guest Post by Jason Trump, Microsoft Education Devices Specialist Australia and NZ

Device does matter! That’s what the research tells us, and it’s what drives us to continue to innovate in the design and use of technology across education. And it’s also why Microsoft continues to drive innovation in Windows hardware with the Surface family of devices.

Today Microsoft has announced the Surface Pro 4, a beautifully engineered evolution of the successful Surface family of devices.

It’s a no-compromise device arguably built for education – it simply ticks all the boxes for students and educators:

  • Touch, Pen and Digitized Stylus
  • All day battery life
  • Lightweight
  • Runs apps and full software
  • Integrates to the cloud and O365
  • Great keyboard experience
  • USB port for peripherals and connectivity

Many schools have chosen laptops or app-based tablets up to now, but there’s a growing expectation to bring these together into a single device – a 2-in-1– with great design and inking capabilities that support learning.

It’s not surprising that Travis Smith uses a Surface Pro device when he’s delivering his keynote on Thinking Naturally in a Digital World! Travis’ presentation was a highlight for those that attended the Surface seminar series nationally – you can access his presentation, whitepapers and my Windows 10 webinar recording on the Surface for Schools website.

At first glance the new Surface Pro 4 looks familiar but look more deeply and you’ll see that Microsoft has taken customer feedback to heart to improve the experience whilst keeping the core DNA that has made Surface Pro 3 such a popular device with students, educators and professionals the world over.

SURFACE PRO 4 – Pen and Paper Evolved.

Stellar Performance

The new Surface Pro 4 family of devices are powered by Intel’s Sixth Generation of Core i Processors (codenamed “Skylake”) – making them faster, more power efficient and producing less heat than the previous Surface Pro 3.

Elegant Pen experience

Our education customers like Westbourne Grammar School especially raved about the quality of the pen/writing experience on the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 – an invaluable aspect of how tablet devices are integrated across the curriculum. Students and teachers love the responsiveness when inking, the natural feel of the pen tip as it rolls across the screen, and the way the pen feels in your hand. OneNote makes it super easy to annotate and ideate, StaffPad helps make music composition more fluid and Adobe applications like Illustrator open up new creative possibilities.

All of these elements have been retained but we’ve made the pen even better!!!

  • New Design – the pen itself now has a facet on one side, making it really easy to magnetically attach to the side of the device.
  • Actions a click away – pressing the button at the end of the pen launches OneNote (just like before). Pressing twice will launch the Snipping Tool so you can capture content and drop it directly into an App or OneNote. Press and hold the button and Cortana is waiting to take your voice command.
  • Eraser in the tip – it’s so natural to erase by simply inverting the Surface Pen and “rubbing out”, much like you would with a pencil eraser on paper.
  • Improved battery – we’ve simplified inner workings of the pen with just a single AAAA battery powering all the pen capabilities. This battery now lasts longer, with a built-in motion detector so that the power is not drawn when the pen isn’t being used. We’d expect the pen battery to last more than 6 months for typical school use.
  • Pairing couldn’t be easier – it’s no longer necessary to pair your pen with a device. Just use it for inking on your Surface Pro 4 for fifteen seconds and voila, pairing complete.

Beauty on the Eyes

We know Surface users expect a beautiful display. With the screen now larger than ever at 12.3 inches, the brilliant high-resolution screen has 5 million pixels delivering a display experience of 2736×1824 at 267 pixels per inch. It’s brighter than ever, and still sports the same obsession for colour accuracy as we individually calibrate each device at factory.

We’ve also updated the N-Trig digitizer, giving 1026 levels of pressure sensitivity (nearly 4 times Surface Pro 3) so the illustrating and drawing experience on Surface Pro 4 is best in class. Parallax error is minimal as well thanks to the optically bonded glass used with Surface devices.

The built-in cameras also get a makeover. Firstly, the rear camera is now an auto-focus 8-megapixel camera, answering the ask of many schools wanting to have a better camera for capturing class activities or the contents on a whiteboard. Secondly, the front facing camera also supports Windows 10 Hello and facial recognition, allowing you to authenticate/login to your computer instantly without a password.

Type Like a Pro with an Awesome New Keyboard

The Surface engineering team also took customer feedback very seriously and have improved the keyboard experience significantly with the Type Cover 4.

  • Chicklet keys – spaced 3mm apart for faster typing
  • Improved trackpad – 40% larger, and higher fidelity
  • Quieter typing – less rattle or tambourine sound when typing with the cover angled

And more good news, the new Type Cover 4 is also compatible with Surface Pro 3 devices – so you can upgrade your typing experience across your existing and new devices!

Improved Desktop Experience with a New Dock

We’ve also announced a new Surface Dock, enabling you to connect your Surface Pro devices to external peripherals like multiple-monitors, USB devices and battery charging with a single connector. The revised dock features two Display Port sockets, allowing you to drive two external displays, in addition to the inbuilt Surface display – this does away with the need to have daisy-chaining Display Port support in monitors or a third party splitter when running 2 monitors. The new dock is also a smaller design which can be concealed, taking up less desk space.

The new docking station is also compatible with the Surface Pro 3 family of devices. Additionally, Surface Pro 4 devices can be used with the earlier Surface Pro 3 docking station with a complimentary shim.

Usage Scenarios

Whilst every customer is unique, we do see some common trends across our education customers on devices. Many customers are now sharing their stories with us, and we’re publishing many of these as case studies.

If you’re considering a device for your teachers, then Surface Pro is the ultimate device for teaching. St Stephen’s College and Frankston High School have shared their experience on Surface for teachers in a video case study. Last October, Pip Cleaves also posted an educators view of the Surface Pro 3.

Hillcrest Christian College uses Surface across the school to develop the whole student and support their learning experience across the entire curriculum.

Here’s my attempt to help you narrow down your choices about which device may be right for you.

Schoo Teachers  I want a great all-round device to use for class and administration  SP3 Core i5 4GB/128GB
 SP4 4 Core i5 4GB/128GB
 I have a little extra budget  SP4 Core i5 8GB/256GB
University Academics  I need great all-round device  SP4 Core i5 8GB/256GB
Specialist University Academics and Teachers   I need a high performance device to run
  specialist software and need lots of storage for my files/data.
SP4 Core i7 8GB/256GB
 SP4 Core i7 16GB/512GB
Primary School Students   Lightweight and functional device, great for using Apps, Office and OneNote  Surface 3 4Gb/64GB 
 SP4 Core M 4Gb/128GB
High School Students  Great all-round device for Apps, Office and Creative Software  SP3 i5 4GB/128GB
 SP4 i5 4GB /128GB
University Students  Non-STEMD student on a budget  Surface 3 4Gb/128Gb
 Great all-round device  SP4 i5 4GB/128GB
 STEMD student with more complex software requirements  SP4 i5 8Gb/256GB
 SP4 i7 

For more information on all the device specs head to the Surface website!

I Want to Buy!

Microsoft Surface Authorised Resellers are able to provide pricing and take your Surface device orders from now, with the new models shipping in Australia from mid-November 2015. Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 (Core i5) models will continue to be orderable – giving you additional choices for your technology needs. These specialist resellers have access to education bundles, and volume pricing discounts. They can also provide extended warranty options (3 and 4 years, with advance replacement) and insurance plans to meet your specific needs.

We also look forward to seeing our Windows OEM partner’s new devices in the months ahead. The combination of Intel’s roadmap, Windows 10 and OEM engineering efforts means we’re going to have an awesome selection of devices that will help students and teachers achieve more on the Microsoft platform. The diversity and choice of the Windows ecosystem is as exciting as ever!

Stay tuned for our next post on Surface Book: The ultimate laptop!