Two Weeks with the Surface Pro 4

This post was originally published on my old blog on December 13th, 2016.

Two weeks ago I purchased a Surface Pro 4 during the Black Friday sales. I’ve been interested in the device for some time but wasn’t actively looking to buy one due to the high price point but luckily a good deal came up at the time of year a lot of good deals tend to come.

For the cost of £743 from PC World, I received a Surface Pro 4 (i5, 4GB, 128GB) with the TypeCover and the Surface Pen in Red. This was already a £250 saving on the normal retail price of that bundle but combine that with selling my Lenovo Z50-70 for £250 I ended up saving £500 on the standard retail price. My only issue with the entire purchase was having to wait a day for PC World to ship my unit from a storage warehouse to my closest store which was likely caused by me ordering it online.

Unboxing and Initial Setup

Microsoft did a very good job with the packaging on the Surface Pro 4 and despite having a pair of scissors and a knife at the ready, I didn’t have to use either of them. The other good thing about the packaging was the step-by-step process by which it all opens which will make it much easier to repackage the device if needs to be returned or if I decide to sell it on in the future.

After removing the device and the accessories from the packaging I powered the device and did the initial setup which was very quick and simple. There was minimal input along the way and all I had to do was connect to my home WiFi network, sign into my Microsoft account then setup Windows Hello with a backup pin so I could quickly and easily sign into the device when using it on a day-to-day basis.

Microsoft didn’t ship any bloatware with the device which is expected but the trial of Microsoft Office was a bit of a waste as I needed to remove it in order to install my copy of 64-bit Office 2016. Luckily there is an efficient Microsoft Office 2016 removal tool provided by Microsoft themselves which did the entire removal for me.

Using the Device

The Surface Pro 4 is a very pleasant device to use on a day-to-day basis. I can get the device powered on and into the Windows desktop in under a minute even when Windows Hello decides it can’t detect my face and I have to use my PIN to sign in.

The Surface Pen and Windows Ink provides some great functionality. Being able to take a screenshot of the desktop by double tapping the button at the top of the pen is great but also having a friendly and intuitive system for drawing on top of that screenshot was a very good design choice by Microsoft. The pen functionality also works well in Office 2016, especially OneNote, which is handy as it allows me to make notes to the side, highlight or underline and even sign documents before I print them out.

Microsoft Edge, the modern replacement for Internet Explorer, is reported to integrate well with Windows Ink functionality but I’ve not actually tried it. As a user of Google Chrome on my desktop computer and Android smartphone, I’m not going to miss out on the functionality that Chrome provides me just to make using the pen easier in the web browser.

The battery life is also fantastic. I can use the device for an entire day without having to plug the charger in. While Edge is much better for the battery life than Chrome is, I counter this by keeping the Battery Saver mode on as most of the tasks I complete on my Surface Pro 4 don’t require a lot of resources to complete. I have tried playing some games on the device, Minecraft and Football Manager 2016, both of which run great but do bring the battery life down to around 2-4 hours. The device does take a few hours to charge but the USB port on the power brick means you can also charge a phone or tablet at the same time.

My only other comment on using the device is the display which is one of the best screens I have ever used. The colours and overall image quality are fantastic. I like using the HiDPI display on a day-to-day basis as it makes reading text much easier and the HiDPI scaling is pretty good as well. The only issue I’ve had with the scaling are a few installers being really small or having blurry text as well as PowerPoint not scaling down correctly when I dragged the window to an external display I had connected one time. However, these are software issues that will get fixed over time when HiDPI displays become more widespread in the market.

Accessories

Microsoft sells a range of Surface accessories online to go with their products which can be rather expensive in my opinion. I ended up buying a Bluetooth Mouse and a Small Case from Amazon for a total of £30. Both of these are great but I’ll probably buy the Surface Mouse in the future as that will fit in the front pocket my case, unlike my current mouse.

Final Thoughts

Overall I am extremely satisfied with my purchase. Not only did I get myself a great deal but now that I’ve used the device in my own workload on a day-to-day basis for two weeks, I can say that I would buy a newer model in the future even for the full retail price. I would also recommend other people to consider the Surface Pro 4 if they need a lightweight but powerful device for use on the go in an office environment.