Surface Pro

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JohnR

Surface Pro
« on: 21 Jul 2017, 05:07 pm »
Some time ago I started a thread asking about the Lenovo Yoga -> http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=145735.0

In the end, I decided on a Microsoft Surface Pro. Mine is the "old model" i.e. Surface Pro 4. For me, this is a second machine so I wanted something super-portable. My primary machine is a 15" MBP.

Super good stuff

I love the form factor. I did not buy the Microsoft Type Cover. My previous impressions of the Surface were colored (in a bad way) by the Type Cover. Toss the Type Cover and the Surface Pro itself is a beautiful piece of engineering, easily Apple standards and probably better (JMHO).

Instead of the Type Cover, I bought a Logitech K810 keyboard and a Logitech T630 mouse. Both of these are very light and work great. The keyboard can be paired to 3 bluetooth devices and the mouse to two.

I got a Crumpler Skivvy S bag. The Surface Pro 4 fits in it perfectly, as does the keyboard and mouse. I'll post a picture sometime but it's such a compact and lightweight package I scratch my head every time I pick it up to take it somewhere.



The thing I love about this is that you have "levels of engagement." I can take the Surface Pro out of the bag and use it like a tablet. If I need serious typing, I take out the keyboard and turn it on. If I need to draw something I take out the mouse and turn that on.

Yes, you will read criticism of the Surface Pro when used as a tablet. For example, the onscreen keyboard could still be improved. But the way I've just described using it bypasses that.

It's a proper Windows 10 Pro machine with a beautiful screen.

When it comes to really portable yet actually useful computing devices, Apple has lost the ball as far as I am concerned. The Surface Pro is what Apple should have done. Instead, they just made the crippled iPad bigger, and did away with the 11" Macbook Air (after never giving it a Retina screen).

That's a lot of super good stuff!

Good stuff

Windows 10 is pretty good. I've jumped back and forwards Mac-Windows for 30+ years and am not really religious about it. But since OSX I have a large investment in it. There are things I'm still working out how to do on the Surface that I can easily do on the MBP.

Performance is fine. This machine wasn't bought to be a powerhouse but I've not noticed any performance issues so far, except for X-based applications like Inkscape. Oh, it's the i5 version. The 2017 model is supposed to be a bit faster.

It actually works well in "laptop mode" with the stand out sitting on my legs, keyboard in front, and mouse on the chair arm. It's a little unwieldy compared to a laptop but I've gotten used to it.

Not so good

Battery life is not super. I felt that it "could have" been made a bit thicker and heavier to fit in a bit more battery capacity. However the current 2017 model is claimed to have about 50% greater battery life.

As I said before, don't buy the Type Cover. It makes the Surface Pro feel dinky and doesn't do it justice. Also, it's expensive.

I haven't used the Pen for anything useful. Fortunately with the Surface Pro 4 it was included (not so with the current model).

You can't really get a useful "case" for it AFAICT. I bought the Kensington "Black Belt" case and it makes it top heavy when using in "laptop mode." Reviews on Amazon indicate other cases don't work that well, with issues like screen breaking when removing the case (!). Hence my decision to stick with the nice Crumpler bag.

And... that's it. Not so many not-so-goods at all.

Summary

I'm not sure why I haven't heard more about it. I think it's a brilliant machine.

mr_bill

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #1 on: 21 Jul 2017, 07:16 pm »
I agree with you except I have no problems with the type cover. I think the type cover works really well unless I'm misunderstanding you.
I loved mine even more before my daughter dropped ours on the floor on the corner of it and broke the corner of the screen!  I just put some protective glue on it to hold the screen together - not sure if you have those screens replaced easily.
I need to check out that Bag you are using. Seems cool.

Live our Surface Pro 4.

tme110

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 55
Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #2 on: 21 Jul 2017, 09:52 pm »
I thought the pro 4 type cover was rather nice.  My pro 4 is my main machine and no issues.  The old type covers weren't very good but they made a point to advertise how much better the new(er) one was.

Scott F.

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #3 on: 21 Jul 2017, 11:27 pm »
Hi John,

I've got one too. Mine is the i5 with 8g ram and the 250g hard drive. It's my daily beater. I drag it everywhere, filthy construction sites, owners offices, work trips, work and I use it as my netbook here at the house. I use the type pad cover with the touch pad mouse. It feels a bit cheesy but it does fine. I've also got a BT mouse that works fine when I use it on the road.

I ended up getting the UAG outer armor case for mine. It's pretty rugged. I haven't had a major drop...yet...but the few minor ones, it's held up fine. No issues whatsoever. I like it a lot. Granted, it isn't my Dell laptop but for a portable it's pretty good....except for one thing...it's bloody heavy, and as you said, the battery life isn't great especially when you are doing heavy processing or video.

mr_bill

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #4 on: 21 Jul 2017, 11:49 pm »
Hi Scott
I should check out that UAG case. Looks like you really like it.

Scott F.

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #5 on: 22 Jul 2017, 11:12 am »
Hi Bill,

It works pretty well. Here's a link to the one I bought.
https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Feather-Light-Composite-Aluminum-Military/dp/B016ATD48O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500720614&sr=8-1&keywords=uag+case+surface+pro+4

They claim it meets some military drop test when you use it with the MS keyboard cover. Mine has held up really well for over a year. The kickstand is used constantly and still works fine. The keyboard hasn't had any issues either.

I forgot to mention, when it comes to the pen, I use it fairly often. As I go out on construction jobsites (I'm a mechanical engineer), I load building plans in PDF format on the Pro. I open them and then take notes directly on the plans with the pen. It's actually quite handy, for me.

I got this mostly for portability and durability. Dragging a laptop around jobsites or to meetings can be cumbersome plus as dirty as some of the places are I go to, I'd kill a laptop pretty quick. Over the years I've been using Android tablets or pads. They worked OK (I guess) but I always had to buy programs that weren't completely MS compatible. Now with this being Windows 10 based, it's like having an extension to my main laptop at my office complete with having access to MS One Drive where all our corporate documents are stored. Toss in a 128g MicroSD car and I've got plenty of on board storage to load some tunes to listen to when I travel.

I like it :thumb:

JohnR

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #6 on: 13 Feb 2018, 07:42 am »
Hi fellow surfers :), a quick update here. Still loving the SP4, although I haven't really gotten used to context switching between Windows and Mac as easily as I thought I would. I have to dis-recommend the Logitech K810 as the comma key came loose after a few months and is now lost. I purchased an Apple Magic Keyboard to replace it as I have never had such a silly issue with any Apple keyboard. And it's lighter as well!

(If you want full function key operation you would need to install a key mapper, but I don't really care about that as I use the screen for things like volume and screen brightness)

The Logitech Touch Mouse cuts out for a few seconds every now and then, which is pretty frustrating. Not sure if there is an alternative as I have trouble with scroll wheels.

Unimpressed with Logitech, to say the least  :evil:
« Last Edit: 13 Feb 2018, 08:59 am by JohnR »

charmerci

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #7 on: 13 Feb 2018, 09:15 am »
I got rid of a MS Surface 2? because 1) I couldn't use FF or Chrome - HAD to use IE only and 2) if I wanted to download a free program I had to buy a MS App.

Maybe this MSS4 doesn't do that?

Bleah.

JohnR

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #8 on: 13 Feb 2018, 09:21 am »
As far as I can tell, the Surface Pro 4 just runs Windows 10 and any software you install the exact same way every Windows machine is supposed to.

It would be very peculiar if Microsoft's own hardware did not run Windows properly... maybe you got something that had some sort of corporate/OEM install on it rather than a standard install?

JohnR

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #9 on: 13 Feb 2018, 09:24 am »
Also, I guess the SP2 would have had Windows 8 on it, which is widely considered to be a "disaster" - https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2411445,00.asp

charmerci

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #10 on: 13 Feb 2018, 10:28 am »
As far as I can tell, the Surface Pro 4 just runs Windows 10 and any software you install the exact same way every Windows machine is supposed to.

It would be very peculiar if Microsoft's own hardware did not run Windows properly... maybe you got something that had some sort of corporate/OEM install on it rather than a standard install?

Yeah, the SP2 was a basic machine with I think only a SD slot, one USB and a HDMI port and built-in memory.

JohnR

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #11 on: 13 Feb 2018, 11:30 am »
In terms of ports I guess that description would apply to the SP4 except that it has DisplayPort instead of HDMI and a MicroSD slot instead of fullsize SD. In terms of hardware and I/O I guess I would put in the realm of machines like the (discontinued) MacBook Air 11" and the current MacBook, although with a far better screen than the former and a more useful set of ports than the latter. Plus it has touch.

GentleBender

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #12 on: 13 Feb 2018, 01:34 pm »
I got rid of a MS Surface 2? because 1) I couldn't use FF or Chrome - HAD to use IE only and 2) if I wanted to download a free program I had to buy a MS App.

Maybe this MSS4 doesn't do that?

Bleah.

That is why not many folks liked the plain lobotomized version of the Surface. It ran on really low powered processors and could only run software that was made uniquely for that Windows 8 phone (Metro) platform for the most part. It confused most and was bad for marketing in my opinion.

The Surface Pro is great and versatile platform that uses current laptop processors and is a great choice when you need a compact PC to get stuff done. I've had a MS Surface Pro 2 with the i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD and it is a real nice machine now that it is running Win 10 Pro. Boots in less than 10 seconds! Great speakers for movie watching too. I hook an external Bluray drive to the USB port and everything works great.

JohnR

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #13 on: 13 Feb 2018, 01:55 pm »
That is why not many folks liked the plain lobotomized version of the Surface. It ran on really low powered processors and could only run software that was made uniquely for that Windows 8 phone (Metro) platform

Oh... that would explain it. I didn't realize there was a Surface before the Surface Pro  :duh:

(Reminds me of the iPad...)

GentleBender

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #14 on: 13 Feb 2018, 03:40 pm »
Oh... that would explain it. I didn't realize there was a Surface before the Surface Pro  :duh:

(Reminds me of the iPad...)
That is exactly what the Surface was, an answer to Apple's iPad. But they were late to the show and were never able to get the support from developers to get it off the ground. Instead it caused confusion and a lot of bad perception from consumers that didn't know the difference between the standard and the Pro versions. I use my iPad Pro for casual internet surfing and texting most of the time thanks to it's simple interface and stable platform, but sometimes you need more options and that is where the Surface Pro 2 comes in for me.

charmerci

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #15 on: 13 Feb 2018, 06:36 pm »
That is exactly what the Surface was, an answer to Apple's iPad.

Well, I knew it was not a much more expensive Pro at the time but I guess I forgot that and confused JohnR - oops.  :duh:   But nonetheless, it had 32GB of memory and got rid of it because of the two above reasons.

mr_bill

Re: Surface Pro
« Reply #16 on: 13 Feb 2018, 07:03 pm »
I have Surface Pro 4 and like it.