Surface Pro 4, Two Months In

Image credit: Microsoft Store.

Update: I’ve made some additional remarks after having used it for four months. Many of my observations still hold.

Having read many reviews of the underwhelming Macbook Pro and the uncertain direction Apple has taken in recent years, I decided to try the Surface line. I’ve been quite pleased with it, for the most part.

The Surface line was first released in 2013 to mixed reviews. Over the next two years, Microsoft has refined the Surface line iteratively in response to user feedback.

What I Liked

  • Lightweight My computer before the Surface was a 5.5 lb (3 kg) MacBook Pro. I hardly noticed the Surface’s 2 lb (1 kg) at all.
  • Powerful and versatile I opted for the baseline model. I don’t need much to get work done: my main vehicles are Chrome, Spotify, and OneNote. Throwing in VMware Player on the occasion hasn’t trigger the fans, really. In fact, for the past week or so, I have been running six Chrome windows — about 15 instances — in addition to all of the apps mentioned, and the Surface has stayed silent. Amazing.
  • Surface Type Cover It’s kept my Surface display from scratches and my unintentional abuse. The hinge is flexible, and the keyboard is a necessity to make the most of your purchase. I have noticed that the material used in the cover tends to erode given enough stressors, especially the edges of the keyboard. Try not to rest your palms on it and it should last quite a long time. The connectivity of the magnetic attachment leaves a bit to be desired, but recent firmware updates seem to have mitigated it.
  • Surface Pen How many times have you wanted to mark something up or write down something, but you couldn’t because you didn’t have a proper stylus? Microsoft has included the Surface Pen with the Surface, and it is a pleasure to use. Writing with it feels natural. The one AAAA battery lasted about four months before needing a replacement. Superb. Have I mentioned Windows Ink?

What I Didn’t Like

  • Buggy firmware There were the occasional blue screens, likely due to firmware updates. Windows Ink wasn’t always invoked with the Surface Pen, necessitating manually launching it from the Surface. There was an issue with the Surface Dock maintaining connectivity when connected to a display as well, which I have resolved temporarily through visiting the Settings app and opting for the display to be always-on.
  • Cannot balance on lap I knew I was going for the Surface without the keyboard, because I couldn’t justify the US$2000 price for the Book. It isn’t meant to be used as a laptop — strictly on one’s lap — but no complaints otherwise. There are always tradeoffs when choosing a product, and I have chosen portability over performance. To each his own.

Despite its few minor shortcomings, I would recommend the Surface Pro 4 to anyone wanting a versatile device. It’s got me excited about the future of computing once again.

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