With the Surface Pro 4 rumored to be coming just around the corner and Intel's Skylake processor architecture now arriving with promised improvements to battery life, processing power and graphics performance, it may be wise to hold off on buying a Surface Pro 3 if you're in the market for one. However, if you can't wait, Lenovo has just beat Microsoft to the punch by introducing its IdeaPad MIIX 700 slate ahead of the Surface Pro 4.
Like the Surface Pro 4, the IdeaPad MIIX 700 is a two-in-one convertible slate that comes with a 12-inch screen, kickstand on the rear, stylus support and a keyboard cover. All this is packed into an extremely thin and light package, making the MIIX 700 a good alternative for Surface users.
Users can configure the slate with up to Intel's Core M7 Skylake processor, 8GB DDR3 RAM and 256GB SSD.
It's unclear what Microsoft will offer on the Surface Pro 4, but the Surface Pro 3 offers more storage options, with a maximum 512GB SSD on the highest configurations. If you like local storage, and need plenty of it, the MIIX 700 may not deliver enough in this department.
Additionally, the Surface Pro 3 uses a Broadwell-based Core i series processor, whereas Lenovo is using a more power efficient Core M processor. We'll have to see how the second generation Core M processors hold up against a Broadwell or Skylake Core i series, but Intel is promising big performance gains with the Core M. According to Intel executives, the new Core M could deliver twice the performance of today's popular tablets.
Lenovo is calling its keyboard cover a folio case, but the cover offers similar functionality to the Type Cover. Both cases provide protection for the tablet's display when not in use.
The kickstand activates using a similar hinge mechanism that Lenovo uses on its Yoga 3 Pro.
Where the MIIX 700 edges ahead of the Surface Pro series is the optional 4G LTE modem. The Surface Pro lineup so far has not come with an integrated mobile broadband modem, leaving users to either tether or search for a Wi-Fi hotspot. This will make it easier for users to stay connected on the go.
Measuring just 0.35-inch (0.89cm) thick and weighing 1.7 pounds (0.77kg), the 12-inch slate can be configured with either a full HD or 2K 2,160 x 1,440-pixel resolution display. The MIIX 700 starts at $699 (£453, AU$979) when it becomes available in November. For comparison, the Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, with similar display, weight and thickness measurements.
Lenovo rates the IdeaPad MIIX 700's battery for nine hours of use.
Getting real with RealSense
The MIIX 700 comes with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel camera with flash on the rear. The rear camera, also known as the world-facing camera, is also a RealSense 3D camera.
Because of the rear placement of the RealSense camera, you won't be able to use it with Windows Hello to log into Windows 10, but you can use it for 3D scanning, mapping your environment in 3D and more.
Surface Pro 4
Not much is known about Microsoft's next Surface Pro 4 at this time. It's been recently rumored that Microsoft could go with an even bigger display on the Surface Pro, possibly stretching the tablet to a 14-inch screen. This would make multitasking easier, and the large screen places the convertible slate toe-to-toe with 13- and 14-inch Ultrabooks on the market today.
Likely the Surface Pro 4 will come with Intel's latest processor, and we're hearing that the tablet could get announced at an October event alongside Microsoft's new Lumia phones and the Windows 10 Mobile operating system.
- Read our Surface Pro 3 review
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