Samsung Chromebook Pro vs New Microsoft Surface Pro: Below the Surface
The real difference between the two 2-in-1 laptops is below the surface. That is, below the surface of their magnesium bodies and 12.3-inch displays with high resolutions (2400 × 1600 in the case of the Chromebook Pro, and 2736 ×1824 in the case of the Surface Pro). For starters, each convertible greets users with a different operating system. As the name suggests, the Chromebook Pro comes with Chrome OS, which now lets you install Android apps. Unfortunately, Android apps also cause an identity crisis for the convertible laptop. In some apps, you can right-click to bring up a context menu, while the same action does nothing in others. Other apps let you drag and drop files between app windows, but don’t expect this to work across all apps. We’re sure Google will fix this over time, but, for the time being, the value of Android apps for serious productivity on Chrome OS is questionable. With the Surface Pro, you get the same Windows experience you’re already familiar with, so no surprises there. The Chromebook Pro and the Surface Pro both come with a stylus. Samsung includes the same S-Pen as the one that comes with the Galaxy Note 5 smartphone. Microsoft includes their Surface Pen, made of aluminum. The S-Pen has twice as many pressure levels as the Surface Pen (2,048 compared to 1,024), but it doesn’t exactly feel like a tool for a serious artist. It works great as a smudge-free substitute for fingers, but drawing and writing feels more natural with the noticeably thicker and heavier Surface Pen. One look at the specifications of the high-end Surface Pro compared to the Chromebook Pro should be enough for you to understand that comparing the two devices in terms of their raw performance isn’t exactly fair. The top-end Surface Pro comes with 16 GB of memory, an Intel Core i7 processor, and up to 1 TB of storage space. The Chromebook Pro comes only with 4 GB of memory, an Intel Core m3 processor, and 32 GB of storage space, which is roughly the configuration of the entry-level Surface Pro. Things get more interesting when you consider that the entry-level Surface Pro costs twice as much as the Chromebook Pro, and the high-end model will cost you three times as much. For everyday tasks such as web browsing, basic image editing, and multimedia consumption, both convertibles perform equally well. But the further you go from passive content consumption toward active content creation, the more the Chromebook Pro starts to feel underpowered. In reality, we expect that most won’t ever reach its performance limit. Partially because most of the professional apps that require powerful hardware to run well aren’t available for Chrome OS, and partially because the Chromebook Pro seems to attract writers and students over graphics artists and 3D designers.