Looking from the front, the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is only slightly smaller than the Surface Pro 4, but the biggest difference is that Samsung's 2-in-1 is 26 percent thinner. It feels incredibly thin for a full-blown Windows PC.
The TabPro S also feels noticeably lighter in hand. Comparing the lighter versions of each device, the TabPro is 10 percent lighter.
Part of that, unfortunately, comes from the fact that Samsung used a plastic back on the Galaxy Tab (though it does have a magnesium alloy frame). The Surface feels higher-end, with its entire body – back included – being made of magnesium.
Both tablets have snap-on keyboard accessories, but the Surface's is more versatile (see the next category) ...
The Galaxy TabPro S relies on the keyboard to prop up the tablet in laptop mode, and can only be positioned in two or three (if we remember correctly from our demo) fixed positions. The Surface has a built-in kickstand which you can position dynamically to find just the right angle.
Samsung will be selling the TabPro S in white and black options, while the Surface only ships in a silver (with black front) hue.
The Surface Pro 4's screen is 5 percent bigger. If you've ever used a Surface Pro 3, that's the same screen size/ratio you'll get from the TabPro S.
The Surface has a big resolution advantage, with a 24 percent sharper pixel density. The TabPro will look great in laptop mode, but once you pull it closer for tablet use you're more likely to notice pixels.
This year at CES we saw several Windows-running laptops or 2-in-1s with AMOLED screens, but Samsung is saying the TabPro S will be the first to market. You can expect a higher-contrast, deeper-blacked presentation than you're used to seeing on these kinds of devices.
The Surface Pro 4 includes Microsoft's excellent Surface Pen. Samsung says the TabPro S will have a pen accessory as well, but we haven't yet seen it (and it sounds like it will be sold separately).
Once you get past the entry-level model, the Surface Pro 4 has a big raw horsepower advantage. The entry-level Surface joins the TabPro S in using a lower-powered Core M chip.
Both of those models are also fanless, while the Core i5 and i7 Surfaces have fans.
The Galaxy TabPro should have the same integrated graphics as the entry-level Surface Pro 4. Go up a notch higher, though, and the Surface beats it.
RAM is tied up until you get to the $1,300 (third-tier) Surface Pro 4, which jumps up to a more generous 8 GB. If you throw down $1,800 or more you can get a Surface Pro 4 with 16 GB of RAM.
We see a similar theme with storage, as the TabPro S has a lower ceiling than the more expensive Surface models.
The Surface Pro 4 has a microSD card slot. If you want to expand the TabPro S' storage, you'll need to use an external hard drive.
The Galaxy TabPro S has a more future-proofed, but less supported right now, USB Type C port. Though the Surface Pro 4 has a lone USB 3.0 port, you'll want to keep the next category in mind ...
Standalone charging port
Like Apple's 12-inch MacBook, the TabPro S also relies on that USB-C port for charging, meaning you'll need to buy an adapter if you want to charge and use a USB accessory at the same time.
The Surface has a separate charging port, letting charging and data transfer remain independent from one another, no adapters required.
The Surface also has a separate port for video out. You can add video out to the laundry list of tasks Samsung is pinning on that lone USB-C port.
Dear Samsung: why not add a second USB-C port to give the device some versatility without using adapters? Just because Apple did it doesn't mean it was a good idea.
The TabPro has a slightly higher-capacity battery, but we'll have to wait for a full review to test its actual uptimes.
Though the Surface has a higher-res rear camera, we can't think of one time we felt the need to use an enormous tablet as a camera (apart from testing for reviews).
Microsoft has yet to release an LTE-enabled Surface Pro model. You will, however, be able to buy a cellular version of the Galaxy Tab.
Both 2-in-1s are Windows 10 devices: Windows 10 Pro for the Surface and either Windows 10 Home or Pro for the TabPro (Samsung hasn't specified what will determine which version you get ... perhaps the higher storage tier will run Pro?).
That means that, unlike the iPad Pro and Google Pixel C, both of these 2-in-1s have desktop operating systems, including desktop apps, file system access, non-sandboxed apps and advanced ("real") multitasking.
Samsung is saying the TabPro S will launch globally in February. The Surface went on sale this past October.
This is the big mystery with the Galaxy TabPro S, as Samsung has been silent on pricing – making it hard to put everything in perspective. We do know that, unlike the Surface, the TabPro's keyboard will be included in the box. Then again, its pen will likely be sold separately, while the Surface's is included in its box.
If total prices for tablet, keyboard and pen end up around the same (a big "if"), then the TabPro looks like a solid alternative to the entry-level Surface Pro 4. If you want more power, though, the more expensive Surface models will quickly take the lead over the Galaxy Tab. And no matter which model you choose, the Surface will have a slightly bigger and noticeably sharper screen.