Surface Pro 4 Review

I recently traded in my old 2011 MacBook Pro at the Microsoft Store for a gift card. I then used it to put towards a Surface Pro. Here is some background before I proceed. I am a web developer that works on PHP and some .Net stuff as well as use databases. I was primarily on the MacOS platform to do my development. I have recently switched over to Windows and for development and have almost completely converted my development workflow. Why? The recent Apple announcements made me feel that Apple and I are headed in different directions. I felt it’s time to look back at what PC can offer again.

I currently have a Dell Inspiron 7568 laptop. Here is the spec.

  • Intel Core i5-6200U
  • 8GB DDR3L-1600 ram
  • It came with 500GB HDD but I swapped it for a Samsung 840 Evo 500GB SSD for obvious reasons.
  • Intel Graphics 520
  • 15.6″ LED touch display FHD (1920×1080)

The plan was to either get a supplement device and/or replacement. This is why the Surface Pro 4 model I chose closely resembled my Dell. Here is the spec I got.

  • Intel Core i5-6300U
  • 8GB ram
  • 256GB SSD
  • Intel Graphics 520
  • 12.3″ PixelSense Display (2736×1824)

What I like

  • The display is great. PixelSense is nice. I mainly write code and hardly have use for the pen but it’s an added feature.
  • The power adapter is held with a magnet. Remember MacBook Pros used to have those? I can remember an instance or two in the last 10 years since I’ve started using MacBook Pros that the magnetic power adapter saved me from a catastrophic event. I’m glad they have this for the Surface.
  • Windows Hello is pretty cool. Being able to log in using my face is quite handy. It even works in a poorly lit room. I’m impressed.
  • The size and weight is nice as well.
  • My development workflow works with the hardware configuration I chose.

What I didn’t like

I used it in the bedroom at night and found two things that bothered me a lot.

  • When lying on the bed and having the laptop and keyboard on my lap, the kickstand is a sharp. Not sharp to the point I’ll be injured but more of discomfort. It made me realize I really need a laptop or a case with a different kickstand (additional expense).
  • The room is dark with only a night light. The screen began flickering and trying to adjust. At first I thought it might be trying to adjust to the ambient light in the room. It could also be the power saving setting since I was running on battery. I checked the settings and even turned off the automatic adjustments. At first it stopped. After 10 minutes it started flickering and adjusting again. I searched online and found many reports of this issue, even as recent as a few months ago. Not sure if it’s the same issue but it was an issue for me.
  • The device itself was $1299 and no keyboard. The keyboard is an additional $129. Kind of pricey in my opinion.

Other Thoughts

  • It has one USB3 port and a Mini DisplayPort. There might be a good chance you’ll be using a dongle. I didn’t really think of this as a like or dislike.
  • During installation of software and initial configuring I thought I’d try not to use the keyboard. I was successful and being able to do what I needed but it was very cumbersome and tedious. It is possible but it’s highly recommended to use the keyboard. Therefore, there’s a good chance you will be purchasing that keyboard.
  • From my experience with it, it will not be a replacement to my laptop. I figured if this is the case, there’s no point in getting matching specs. Save the money and get the lower spec version and do less with it. Not everyone will have the same experience. I’m sure those who use the pen and PixelSense display will have a different experience.

Conclusion

I have decided I will be returning the Surface Pro 4 after a few days of use. For what I will use it for and the current device I already own, it’s not a good fit. This is not to say the device isn’t good, but it does not fit my current workflow. I will continue to use a laptop when I’m not at home or in the office. If you are considering and price is the issue, check out the refurbished/open box deals from the Microsoft Store website. You can save a few bucks going that route… if you don’t mind the condition. Or consider the hardware spec. Maybe you don’t need all that hardware and get something lower.

If you are torn between this or the iPad Pro, in my opinion the Surface is a better choice. Depending on what you’ll do with the device, you can be more productive with the Surface. But if you’re in it for apps and games or you’re current workflow surrounds Apple’s ecosystem, then the iPad Pro could be a better choice.

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