The much publicized Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet will be available to the public this month.  The new model has many upgrades and features over the Surface Pro 3 model, but is now the time to buy one?

Microsoft has for years been touting that their Surface line is the first tablet than can replace a laptop. The Surface Pro 4 comes closer to that promise.

Consider some of the specs. The Surface Pro 4 is 12.3 inches wide and a little thinner than the Surface Pro 3. It measures only 8.4mm. The “Pro” has a little larger screen size and is lighter than the previous version at 1.73 pounds. Also included is a sharper 2,736 by 1,824 resolution (around 267 pixels per inch). This packs in even more pixels than Apple’s 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

The base model is priced at $899. It has a Core M chip (similar to, but newer than the one in Apple’s MacBook) and 4GB of RAM. The top version, available later, will have 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. It is powered by a sixth generation Core i7 Intel processor.

Earlier this month Microsoft said the Surface Pro 4 will be 30 per cent faster than the Surface Pro 3.  It said it will be 50 percent faster than its direct competitor the MacBook Air.

One big improvement Microsoft has made is with the new Type Cover. It is not included in the standard price and is $130 additional. Still it adds to the experience over previous versions with completely redesigned keys and a brand new trackpad. Microsoft says it is 40 per cent larger than prior versions.

The Type Cover’s keys are raised and separated, similar to what you would find on a standard laptop keyboard. They are easier to type on than the flat condensed keys of earlier versions. This one is fat and smooth when scrolling. The larger size makes it much easier to use the Windows 10 multi-finger gestures. Despite these improvements you won’t get the same experience as a using a laptop.

Another new addition is Microsoft’s Surface Pen. This provides yet another way to interact with the computer. Unlike the Type Cover it is actually included with the Pro 4. The Surface Pen works with new technology in the Pro 4’s display to provide a better writing experience than older versions.

The Pen is pressure sensitive and has a really great drag on the screen. It feels more like writing with a real pen than ever before. It also includes an eraser on its top side that lets you quickly erase whatever it is you just wrote or scribbled. It’s very easy and natural to use.

The Pen magnetically snaps to the side of the Pro 4. This is ideal for storage while the computer is on your desk.

Battery life is similar to that of the Pro 3. About five to seven hours between charges. Not ideal and less than that of premium laptops.

Windows 10 is the operating system of choice and according to reports seems to work well with the machine.

Despite the Microsoft hype, the Surface Pro 4 won’t replace your laptop. There is just one USB 3.0 socket and a MiniDisplay port. Still it is a step up from the Surface Pro 3 and adds more speed and performance with the latest Intel processors.

Those who are fans of the Surface Pro genre, and have a budget to match, will consider this a worthy investment.