The Surface Pro 4 is coming soon…we assume. So we conducted a survey to find out what TechSpective readers think Microsoft should include in the next-generation Surface Pro 4 tablet. We also narrowed down which single feature or change is the most important.
I never took statistics but I think it’s safe to say this isn’t a large enough sample to be considered a “scientific” study of Surface Pro 4 feedback. While the survey results indicate the general feedback of the TechSpective community, the reality is that it only really represents the subset of the TechSpective community interested in the Surface Pro tablets at all. Further, it’s only actually a reflection of the feedback from the even smaller subset who took the time to complete the survey.
With all of those caveats in place, let’s take a look at the survey results.
We wanted to know whether the feedback was purely theoretical, or based on real-world experience with an actual Surface tablet so we asked the respondents whether or not they’ve ever used one. Among those who completed the Surface Pro 4 survey the split was nearly 50/50 between those who have used a Surface tablet, and those who have not. Just under 53 percent have used some model of Surface tablet and about 47 percent have not.
Next we explored which Surface models the survey participants have used. Multiple responses were allowed so one person may have used more than one Surface model. I’ve actually used all of them except for the Surface 2—the second-generation Surface RT. It was not a surprise to learn that the Surface Pro 3 is the leader of the pack by far, though. Seven out of ten survey respondents have used the Surface Pro 3. The next highest model was the Surface Pro 2 with roughly half that. The data illustrates both the growth of the Surface Pro brand over time and the strength of the Surface Pro 3.
The meat of the survey is the question “What would you like to see in the Surface Pro 4?”. This is another question where multiple responses were allowed. There was also an “Other” option where respondents could fill in an answer that wasn’t already on the list.
The two features that tied for the lead were longer battery life and lower price. Nearly two-thirds of the survey responses selected these two from the list. Apparently if Microsoft does nothing else but boost battery life by 20 percent and cut the price $100 the Surface Pro 4 will be a blockbuster.
In second place was bundling the Type keyboard cover with the tablet by default. I’ve maintained all along that the keyboard cover isn’t really optional and Microsoft can’t market the Surface Pro 3 as the “tablet that can replace your laptop” if customers have to buy extra accessories to use it as a laptop. Microsoft can kill two birds with one stone. If it bundles the keyboard cover and leaves the price the same—basically throw in the keyboard cover for free—the net result will actually be a lower price.
There were a number of write-in votes but two themes that showed up repeatedly. Survey participants would like the Surface Pro 4 to have more USB ports and possibly a built-in Ethernet port, and some would like dedicated or more powerful graphics processing. The challenge for Microsoft is how it can add features and capabilities like that without raising the cost, impacting the battery life, and possibly also making it thicker and heavier.
One interesting result that stands out from the rest is the fact that almost nobody is interested in a smaller Surface Pro 4. There was rabid speculation going into the unveiling of the Surface Pro 3 last year that Microsoft planned to launch a smaller Surface tablet. That obviously didn’t happen and it looks like most people don’t care. Almost a third of the survey participants would like a larger Surface Pro 4, though.
The all-important question, though, is which of these features or capabilities is the most important. Survey participants were presented with the same list of options but could only choose one. Lower price came out on top with 75 percent more votes than the second place choice of longer battery life. 4G / LTE wireless connectivity came in third as the single most important feature even though it was a distant sixth place on the list of desired options.
There you go, Microsoft. You don’t need to reinvent the proverbial wheel. If you can just figure out how to extend the battery life and possibly add 4G / LTE connectivity while dropping the price a bit the Surface Pro 4 will be a winner.
What do you think? The survey is closed but the discussion can continue. Share your thoughts and opinions about the Surface Pro 4 in the comments below.