1. James Denaro's Avatar
    Review of Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (i5 / 256 / 8 model)

    This machine has two distinct modes: tablet and desktop. You are explicitly in one mode or the other, so we should look at each one separately.

    In tablet mode, the Surface running Win 10 doesnt make any sense. Heres a great application for this machine: Lets run Acrobat and markup a PDF using the pen. If you select the highlight tool, your pen (and finger) are a highlighter. Thats good, but you cant use your pen (or finger) to scroll by touching the page (because you are now a highlighter). So you have to use the scroll bars at the margins. Whats the point of being a tablet here? Its just easier to use a mouse wheel and be done with it. It's a great novelty to do this in tablet form, but ultimately much less efficient.

    As a tablet, it absolutely needs a home button and corresponding home interface, like both Android and iOS have (for good reason). Every time you want to launch an app, you have to get to the Start icon, and then find the desired app icon on the Start menu or dig it out somehow from a hierarchical menu off of Start. The text and icons are small, which would be fine on a desktop, but much less fun with your finger. The whole time you are thinking this would be so much easier with a mouse.

    In tablet mode, you can look at the pretty weather app and surf the net well enough, send an email maybe. But then you basically have a $1,299 iPad, only without the depth of the iTunes store offerings and with an awkward interface. If I can't actually *do anything for real, I might as well run Android or iOS where the tablet experience has been refined.

    On the positive side, OneNote seemed really interesting with the pen. You can click the eraser on the pen to launch OneNote and make freeform notes. The eraser on the end of the pen erases parts of notes when you turn the pen around. Very neat.

    The overall experience is of a desktop running on a tablet form. iOS doesnt feel like MacOS running on a tablet. On the S4, the screen keyboard didnt always show up when you needed it. Very often you find yourself touching into a textbox and then touching the taskbar icon to bring up the screen keyboard.

    As a laptop, its a modest effort. The keyboard cover is atrocious as a keyboard while being decent as a cover. The entire experience with the keyboard (especially when angled up) is very squishy. The keys are surprisingly noisy and soft. The touchpad is also loud to click and relatively resistant to click. The touchpad appears to be hinged at the top, so the bottom half is better than the top half for clicking.

    The screen looks great; very highres and bright. However, beware of the backlight bleeding issues (Google it) which persist on the S4. My copy had the same bottom right glowing patch about an inch from the corner as everyone else seems to have. The fault on mine was only noticeable when watching a letterbox movie, when it was quite apparent. This should not be considered a manufacturing defect, its just a result of their loose tolerances.

    The cooling fan is absolutely horrific. When on AC power, the slightest provocation will send the fan to the highest speed. I reformatted, reinstalled with just the basics (Adobe CS, Office) and ran only Chrome. Even at <10% CPU and downclocked to .5GHz, the fan would blast away. While it was wasnt clear what causes the fan to engage, it seemed that if you got to about 50% CPU for even a brief moment, you would have full speed fan for the next five minutes or so. But if you booted up and didn't actually do anything, the machine was absolutely silent. It was only when you start to use it that the fan would crank.

    Battery life was mediocre. With the screen at 100% and under a relatively light load of web use, I saw four or five hours to deplete a fully charged battery.

    As an actual "laptop" it is completely unrealistic. The combination of the floppy keyboard, magnetic keyboard attachment, and kickstand back make using it on your lap a balancing act. You can do it, but one mistake and the Surface is hitting the deck.

    That all leaves me typing away on the worst keyboard ever devised while the machine sounds like an airplane about to take off, combined with a marginal tablet experience. Id rather cart around both an iPad/Android tablet and a proper laptop.
    11-04-2015 05:14 PM
  2. StevoPhilo's Avatar
    I'm not sure I understand your complaints about the keyboard. In what way is it floppy? Are you talking about when you're using it on your lap?

    I'm not sure how people sit, but I never had a problem using it and I feel like people must sit really awkwardly to experience this balance issue. The keyboard itself isn't that loud and has a nice soft feel, but it's very easy to type on this unit. The spacing and the size of the keys are perfect in my opinion. The trackpad to me is a little too sensitive, but it's very responsive. I think this is one of the better keyboards around as it closely represents my mechanical keyboard.
    11-04-2015 06:02 PM
  3. sanshiro's Avatar
    You basically reviewed a hybrid device as a comparison to two separate devices. If you are going to do that, at least have the integrity to factor in the cost, support/maintenance, and portability of two devices vs one. Your review also reads like it's the first time you used a hybrid, a digital pen, and Windows 10.
    RichBrown68 likes this.
    11-04-2015 06:33 PM
  4. BCL_WA's Avatar
    Review of Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (i5 / 256 / 8 model)

    The cooling fan is absolutely horrific. When on AC power, the slightest provocation will send the fan to the highest speed.
    I have i5 16gb model. I had the fan come on once when I was editing photos between Lightroom and Photoshop- makes sense. Another time when the last firmware update was installed. I just watched an hour on netflix plugged in and no fan. I'm just not seeing it....or hearing it:)
    11-05-2015 12:27 AM
  5. ioaniro's Avatar
    If this is a user review I think you might want to start with why you wanted/needed a surface pro in the first place. I fail to see that from your review, it rather reads as if you bought it to convince yourself you don't need it and then return it? While SP3 was/is a successful device, these are still for a niche market that needs extreme mobility, note taking ability and all the perks that come with a full windows computer in one device. I only have the SP2 for the moment so can't comment on the SP4 problems and while the SP2 is not a perfect device is the best device for my workflow at the moment.
    For pdf's I could recommend, if you are reading/learning from pdf files, to send them to onenote and annotate/comment there, is the best way to use the pen and pdf's. You then end up with one or several notebooks (depending on topic) where you have all your interesting pdf's and notes and whatnot. I usually change the settings so that a full pdf is sent on one continuous page rather than each page from a pdf on a separate onenote page.
    For the battery life these devices are not perfect but for your quality of life I can recommend that unless you live on the sun you should never use any of your devices at 100% brightness, it's really bad for you. Again, not a critic at your battery life review, just an advice.
    For tablet mode, while since windows 10 I rarely switched my SP2 to tablet mode it is actually pretty well implemented. Any windows program launches full screen with minimal interface so maybe extend your search for programs outside the store and you'd find more useful things than browsing and weather app. In desktop mode check out some of the settings, you can pretty much make it touch friendly without too much fiddling around.
    For the dedicated start button, since I don't have the SP4 I cannot comment but I use it quite often on the SP2 so I tend to agree with you, these devices should have it. I usually have the task bar on auto-hide on my SP2 so without that button I'd be a bit lost.
    11-05-2015 03:19 AM
  6. excalibur1814's Avatar
    As an actual "laptop" it is completely unrealistic. The combination of the floppy keyboard, magnetic keyboard attachment, and kickstand back make using it on your lap a balancing act. You can do it, but one mistake and the Surface is hitting the deck.

    That all leaves me typing away on the worst keyboard ever devised while the machine sounds like an airplane about to take off, combined with a marginal tablet experience. I’d rather cart around both an iPad/Android tablet and a proper laptop.
    I'll simply just state that I do not agree with your last comments. I'd actually like to say that you might just want to consider returning the device as it's not for you. Why? Last year I travelled around Europe, with my SP3, typing in various locations, hotels, airports etc and thaty meant finishing a 68,000 word short story. At no point did I experience and issues with the keyboard or stand. Sure, yes, it's obvious that it's not as flat as a laptop's base but come on... You adapt where possible.

    I'm actually thinking that maybe, just maybe, you don't even own a Surface device.
    Drayk likes this.
    11-05-2015 04:09 AM
  7. FXi2's Avatar
    Sorry you don't like the device. Working on pro keyboards the new keyboard is easily a match for them. Tablet mode is quite nice but maybe you missed the START menu and the need to organize that a bit (maybe easiest with a mouse at first but fingers work fine too) and pin the apps that you want to use there so you can reach them easily in tablet mode. Once you have it reorganized the way you like it you should be have many more tasks at your fingertips. Practically everything can be pinned to the START menu if it isn't there to begin with. Right click on something and "pin to START". This will pin it to the next available spot in the group it's related to but you can move those around so the things you want are near the top. I can check stocks, update and run virus scans, connect/disconnect devices and launch all the MSOffice apps all from tablet mode. Composing email can be a bit more cumbersome using an onscreen keyboard but the layout and text prediction is night and day better than the entire range of IOS and Android products.

    Fan triggering is an interesting issue because several reviews have yet to encounter this. If you have, there could be some hardware issues with your device. It's difficult to say exactly remotely but fan noise has been described as far lower than the Surface Pro 3 which I have now. Between that and the light bleed I have to wonder if you got a bad device. And if you don't think that doesn't happen in the IOS world I'd be surprised.

    In the end it doesn't fit your goals. I returned the iPhone 6S Plus because that user interface and browsing experience was atrocious (despite the many glowing opinions) so I'll be the first to tell you that not every device suits every user. But since you are very IOS focused it will take some learning to get yourself more accustomed to the approach with the SP4. Browsing is faster by a multiple than IOS devices and that is something I appreciate.

    You could try it a bit longer to see if it suits you but of course if it does not you are allowed to return it in the end.
    11-05-2015 07:04 AM
  8. RichBrown68's Avatar
    I have i5 16gb model. I had the fan come on once when I was editing photos between Lightroom and Photoshop- makes sense. Another time when the last firmware update was installed. I just watched an hour on netflix plugged in and no fan. I'm just not seeing it....or hearing it:)
    I can go you one better: In the week I've had mine, NOT ONCE have I heard the fan come in. This was clearly a review done by someone intending to find things to complain about... even if he had to exaggerate a bit
    11-05-2015 08:09 AM
  9. RichBrown68's Avatar
    Why would you use Acrobat to mark up your PDF documents when the Windows Store has an app specifically FOR the purposes you mentioned called DRAWBOARD, where marking up PDFs is as easy as drawing on paper?
    11-05-2015 08:12 AM
  10. polbit's Avatar
    Worst keyboard every devised?

    This statement alone makes it clear that the OP hasn't actually used the SP4 and is simply trolling because he got bored with his Mac forums.
    Last edited by polbit; 11-05-2015 at 12:16 PM.
    RichBrown68 likes this.
    11-05-2015 10:59 AM
  11. John M Beauchemin's Avatar
    Guys, obvious troll. New member, 1st post, cartoon 'review'.

    Just ignore and block. Legitimizing this creative writing exercise with serious responses is a futile waste of time.
    11-05-2015 11:43 AM
  12. sanshiro's Avatar
    Why would you use Acrobat to mark up your PDF documents when the Windows Store has an app specifically FOR the purposes you mentioned called DRAWBOARD, where marking up PDFs is as easy as drawing on paper?
    Which by the way comes pre-installed in SP4 sold in the US.
    saintforlife likes this.
    11-05-2015 12:55 PM
  13. sanshiro's Avatar
    I have i5 16gb model. I had the fan come on once when I was editing photos between Lightroom and Photoshop- makes sense. Another time when the last firmware update was installed. I just watched an hour on netflix plugged in and no fan. I'm just not seeing it....or hearing it:)
    I have run various tests on the SP4 i5/8GB/256GB:
    7.5 hours of 1080p video playback - no fan activity.
    7 hours of web browsing, youtube, etc. - no fan activity
    Multitasking with office, Edge, pdf viewer - no fan activity.
    Converting 35GB of RAW format photos using Adobe DNG converter - fan activity.

    The reviewer obviously doesn't know what he's talkign about, or had a defective unit or didn't have the latest firmware.
    hasasimo, polbit and ttsoldier like this.
    11-05-2015 01:01 PM
  14. bo_woods's Avatar
    I don't undersea your complaints on not having a home button...

    The start menu IS the essential home screen function when it comes to Windows in tablet mode or on a phone. App not pinned as a tile? Well guess what you have to navigate the left menu and select "all apps"

    It is no more complex than on Windows Mobile. Want to go home? tap the start button? want to access all your apps and not just pinned tiles? Swipe to the right for all your apps.

    If what the complaint is centered on is more so the absence of an actual home button, then well there's always an on screen one in the bottom right and if your in laptop mode with the official type cover then there is a windows button on that as well. The capacitive button on the SP3 very much needed to go. Many artists were having issues as drawing on the tablet with the right hand while resting your hand on the display often meant tapping the button constantly. There's no need to have an on screen one and a capacitive one.
    polbit likes this.
    11-05-2015 05:30 PM
  15. Arsenic17's Avatar
    I can go you one better: In the week I've had mine, NOT ONCE have I heard the fan come in. This was clearly a review done by someone intending to find things to complain about... even if he had to exaggerate a bit
    Maybe you just aren't observant? Or you are lucky? Not sure, but had my SP for 2 weeks almost and the fan comes on quite loud and at random times. Like last night, I was browsing the web and doing some light computer programming. Started around 6pm. By 730, the fan came to a roar and continued. The device wasnt all that hot, just a bit warm to the touch. At the same time the battery got destroyed. Went from 100% to 5% in about 3 hours, not doing all that much, and 100% brightness. Though, my fan doesnt kick on like this all the time, and when it doesnt, I average around 4.5 hours of battery, which is also quite pathetic.
    11-05-2015 05:47 PM
  16. Iain_S's Avatar
    I am on my 2nd sp4 because of the light bleed. and the 2nd unit has it also. I will be returning this one also because of the bleeding before my 30 days are up and again trying a different one.
    11-05-2015 06:30 PM
  17. polbit's Avatar
    I'm with sanshiro, my 2nd SP4 is silent except when I work it really hard, and that's expected. I can be running Chrome Canary, VS 2015, and Kindle, and no noise at all. I have other issues, like slow wakeup with type cover folded back, or sometimes inconsistent trackpad speed, but I trust those will be fixed soon via software. This is FINALLY the SP I have wanted since day one.

    Arsenic17, you mentioned screen brightness at 100%. Since the screen is probably the biggest battery drain in a system like this, I think 4.5 hours is fine. My average so far is over 7 hours, with screen at 45% most of the time.
    ttsoldier likes this.
    11-05-2015 09:49 PM
  18. ttsoldier's Avatar
    I have been using the SP4 for the past couple days. I have never heard the fan.

    i've been streaming youtube, browsing the web (with edge) watching movies, store app updates, one driving syncing... It's all good...

    I have not updated my surface pro from the OOBE though so i'm not sure if that has something to do with it.

    I also just disabled connected standby so with regular sleep, that battery drain nonsense will stop.
    11-05-2015 10:56 PM

Similar Threads

  1. Here are a couple of external batteries that work with SP4
    By pdt in forum Microsoft Surface Pro 4
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 11-11-2015, 07:06 PM
  2. Join us for Microsoft's #FutureUnleashed with Satya Nadella
    By WindowsCentral.com in forum Windows Central News Discussion
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-04-2015, 05:11 PM
  3. Cortana Flicker Bug on Surface Pro 4
    By DeFNaTioN in forum Microsoft Surface Pro 4
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-04-2015, 04:11 PM
  4. Band Store is the one app you need for the Microsoft Band
    By WindowsCentral.com in forum Windows Central News Discussion
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-04-2015, 04:00 PM
  5. Should you install Windows Insider builds to the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4?
    By WindowsCentral.com in forum Windows Central News Discussion
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-04-2015, 03:20 PM
LINK TO POST COPIED TO CLIPBOARD