Surface Pro 4 :: A bit of a love story

by Volker Weber

staad interior

Photo: Waterfield Designs

I am a sucker for great bags and while I read Waterfield backpacks are an expensively acquired taste I came across this picture and it hit me that we are now making bags that can hold a MacBook and an iPad. A MacBook is a great laptop and an iPad is the best tablet, but what if you need both? You carry two machines, plus your phone. Ever since I had the Surface 3, I left the MacBook at home and carried the iPad (Pro) or Surface 3 on travels.

This has changed with Surface Pro 4. Ever since I had this machine, I shut down my Macs when I am not using them. That had never happened before. I just put them to sleep because I would need them the next minute. Not any more.

IMG 9222

These two-in-one machines have a lot going for them. I have my working set of documents in the cloud, replicated to several computers, the rest is in background storage. With Surface Pro 4 it's all there. I can go from notebook to tablet in a second, I love how well inking is integrated into Windows 10. I love how the pen is more useful than Pencil on iPad Pro. There aren't many "apps" for Windows on Surface, but frankly, I don't need a Youtube app. I just use Edge for everything. And with Creators Update, even for reading books. Some of the apps are really good, like Instagram which displays photos at high resolution, or Netflix which lets you download shows to watch them later.

While I found many devices that end the quest for the best one -- Sonos for music at home, Dyson for vacuums, iPhone for smartphones, Apple Watch for fitness trackers, AirPods for wireless earbuds -- the journey for the perfect computer isn't over. But at this point in time, Surface Pro 4 is the best answer for me.Why is that? I love beautiful objects. Windows 10 is beautiful, the machine itself is beautiful, the fuzzy keyboard and the pen are as well. I love functional objects, and Surface Pro 4 has it all: pen, touch, keyboard, trackpack, screen, all of them outstanding. And the thing that Microsoft really nailed is the kickstand. I use it all the time, even while Surface is in tablet mode.

I currently have three (active) Macs and quite a few (read: more) Windows machines. Surface Pro 4 is the one I use.


Warum nicht das surface book? Hat ja einen größeren Bildschirm!

frAnk Büttner , 2017-04-08

Surface Book is also a very beautiful machine. But for my use case it has a couple of disadvantages:

1. It's heavier.
2. The fulcrum hinge is a bit wobbly, which does not help touch use.
3. The display does not fold down all the way.
4. The clipboard has a small battery that does not charge from the base.
5. The clipboard does not have a kickstand which I find essential.
6. Reconfiguring takes a bit more of an effort. The machine has to be on first.

All of that is a bit whiny. I am sure I'd enjoy Surface Book just the same.

Volker Weber, 2017-04-08

What is you're experience with the battery life on the Surface Pro 4? My company is starting to go this direction versus macs and iPads but the battery life on my MacBook Pro makes me hesitant to give it up.

Tristan Stutzman, 2017-04-09

I think the same way about my Surface Book. It really is the ultimate machine for me, though I got it just recently in November... After they patched most of the quirks.

I opted for the book instead of the pro because:

1. I was used to a 14" screen Asus laptop and the 13.5" 3:2 Surface actually gives me more usable area, while retaining a compact form.

2. I do like the extra power of the NVidia gpu, even if it's only just a bit more than the Iris one found in the top Pro. Most games I've tried run fine, and it helps for certain productivity tasks.

3. I had the Surface Pro 3 for a couple of month and I loved it... It really is more practical for switching from laptop to tablet, however I only use the clipboard mode of the Book for short burst (to show something to a friend or client).... And I turn it around for taking hand notes in a course I'm taking.

4. The kickstand is great but I don't really miss it much, for when I need the Book to prop itself for a movie or something, I plug it backwards and it is just as good.... (when I need to draw I fold it flat)

5. The battery life is crazy good, and the extra USB port was a must for me. And having around 75% of the battery life in the keyboard is a potential way to revive it once its life cycle dies... Maybe I can find another one in good condition.

Diego Quintero, 2017-04-09

Tristan, 6.5 hours for the i7/8/256. i5 may have an hour more.

Volker Weber, 2017-04-09

Weiß jemand, wo man die original Stiftspitze her bekommt? Meine Kinder haben sie kaputt gemacht.

Johannes Matzke, 2017-04-09

Volker Weber, 2017-04-09

Das habe ich auch schon gesehen. Aber da ist doch die ursprüngliche Spitze nicht dabei oder etwa doch? Ich habs mal bestellt.

Johannes Matzke, 2017-04-09

Noooooo... stop tempting me!

Bill Greenberg, 2017-04-09

Die ursprüngliche Spitze hat die Bezeichnung "HB" und die ist im obigen Nachkaufset dabei.

Abdelkader Boui, 2017-04-09

Use case for the Backpack with the Notebook and Ipad space:
I used to travel with my work laptop and my private Ipad. In that way I can keep business and private stuff separated.
There I was traveling with my big laptop bag which fits both easily.
After the Ipad 2 lying around at home unused for quite some time, it's now sold.

Patrick Bohr, 2017-04-09

@Abdelkader: Danke für die Info

Johannes Matzke, 2017-04-10

Warum dann immer noch parallel das iPad Pro, Volker?

Dietmar Liehr, 2017-04-10

Nur zum Testen.

Volker Weber, 2017-04-10

Hallo Volker, sollte ich bald schwach werden: Weißt Du, ob der i5 Prozessor deutlich langsamer ist als der i7? Und machen die 8GB RAM gegenüber 4GB einen deutlichen Unterschied? Alles wie immer eine Preisfrage, und mit dem i5 (4 oder 8GB RAM) sähe es schon viel besser aus.

Jochen Kattoll, 2017-04-10

@Jochen: Ich habe das SP4 i7 mit 16GB. Davor das SP3 mit 8GB. Und davor das erste SP mit 4GB. Ein guter Bekannter nutzt die SP4 m3 Variante mit 4GB.
Fazit: 4GB sind heute zu wenig und das merkt man. 16 sind nicht nötig und eher für VMs interessant. 8GB scheinen der Sweet Spot zu sein.

Tobias Hauser, 2017-04-10

Danke, Tobias!

Und gute Besserung, Volker!

Jochen Kattoll, 2017-04-11

Hast du trotzdem ein Waterfield backpack bestellt?

(Das ist doch hier die interressante Frage ;) )

Matthias Welling, 2017-04-11

Nein, ich habe mehr als genug Taschen.

Jochen, ich habe ein i7/8/256 und würde ein i5/8/256 empfehlen, weil es billiger ist und mehr Laufzeit hat (kleinerer Motor, gleicher Tank). Achte auf die Sonderangebote. Regelmäßig um die 200 € und die Tastatur kostenlos. Und dann droht ja auch schon SP5.

Volker Weber, 2017-04-11

Danke, Volker!

Jochen Kattoll, 2017-04-11

Wäre übrigens auch meine Empfehlung. Und, auch nach einem Jahr bin ich vom SP4 wirklich begeistert. Ich nehme mein IPad auch kaum noch mit und auch ich nutze den Kickstand u.a. auch sehr gerne ohne Tastatur als praktischen Tablethalter.

Übrigens: von allen .epub Readern habe ich, nach langer Suche, Book Bazaar als den Gewinner auserkoren. Bestes Lesevergnügen vor allen im Landscape Modus. Sollte man unbedingt mal testen wenn man auf dem Gerät auch liest und ist schon komfortabler als die Edge Variante.

Roland Dressler, 2017-04-11

Danke, Roland. Wir haben bisher nur das Surface 3. Der Kickstand ist in der Tat genial. Insanely simple würde man andernorts sagen :)

Jochen Kattoll, 2017-04-11

Alles richtig so, aber das Schreiben mit dem Stift auf dem Surface Display fühlt sich im Gegensatz zum IPad an, als ob man es zerkratzt. Traumhaft beim IPad, Surface furchtbar.

Wolfram Votteler, 2017-04-14

Another nice usage of the pen:

"HookSur is a free windows desktop application for remotely controlling PowerPoint presentations using a Microsoft Surface Pen’s top button."

Frank van Rijt, 2017-04-14

@ Frank, thx for the link! Nice little tool.

On my wish list for the next surface pen is a small gyro sensor inside. Then you could additional gestures like the baton of a maestro or Harry Potters wand :-) Sounds curios but i would love it!

Roland Dressler, 2017-04-18

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