Surface Pro 4 – Tablet Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have a circa 3 year old Surface Pro 4 to review. It is 64 bit with 8GB memory and a Core i5-6300cpu @2.4GHz.

So here goes…

Summary

  • It is thin, fairly fast, and better than any other Windows 10 laptop I have ever tried. 
  • The touchscreen feels like a gimmick at first, until you start to miss it, on laptops that don’t have it. 
    I actually tried to “Pinch to Zoom” a magazine photo. (MacBook trackpads also drive this behaviour)
  • Windows 10 works well on it, and the screen is rather good, but it reflects everything
    I never got to try the Surface Pen, as that did not get delivered with it. 
  • It is easy to switch between Desktop and Tablet mode, but it is a really annoying tablet. 

The kickstand

  • The kickstand is quite annoying. At first I thought it was flimsy and would break but I was wrong. The plastic is seriously tough and the hinge is solid. 
    Two things drove me mad though:
    1. Needing a kickstand means that short people (me) can’t balance this on your lap as the kickstand rolls off my knees. In fact I came upon quite a lot of situations where it’s inability to stand up unaided was terminally limiting. If you are out of the office a lot this could become annoying. 
    2. The kickstand sticks out the back of the laptop and on a crowded desk, train, plane, etc… it either takes up space or gets pushed in and the laptop collapses, thus dropping your screen flat onto the desk. If you travel or hot desk then this can become annoying. 

Pros

  • Weight: It is seriously light and you hardly notice it in your bag. 1.7 pounds.
  • Screen: Nice and the touchscreen works reasonably well (in desktop mode)
  • Form Factor: Excellently slim and has a small sized power supply
  • Keyboard: Reasonably good. 
  • This is a fairly tough tablet
  • It drives a large monitor well
  • Power supply has USB A port on it for charging phones etc…
  • USB A Port

Cons

  • It makes a lousy tablet
  • The keyboard is a dirt magnet (Alcantara…Suede)
  • The trackpad is awful and can get confused by the touchscreen if you are using both
  • The kickstand is a living nightmare (but not as flimsy as I initially thought)
  • USB A Port (Only 1 and where is the USB C)
  • Proprietary power connector. I love this connector. It is similar to an old MacBooks MagSafe, but the rest of the world is moving onto USB C. I left the admirably small power block in work a few times and couldn’t find any of my friends with a surface pro power supply.
  • Windows 10. It is way better than 8 or 7 but it is still trying to be a laptop and desktop OS. 

Battery Life

  • Battery Life is terrible (2 hrs 15 minutes on a sub 3 year old tablet)
  • Microsoft claim 9 hours
  • Most review suggest 4 to 5 hours or 3 hours of heavy use.
  • Many review suggest that sub 3 hours is not unusual. This laptops history is unknown. It might have had a hard life.
  • The latest Surface pro 6 claims 13.5 hours. Reviews suggest that this will be more like 9 hours of light use
  • They both have only 45WH batteries. 60WH or low energy components seems to the way most manufacturers are getting better battery life.

The Surface Laptop 2 has a claimed battery life of 14.5 hours and reviews suggest you are more likely to get near 10 hours of light use with this one. 

Would I have one

  • I like this so much that I wouldn’t buy it. 
    I would buy its sibling, the Surface Laptop 2” 
    The Surface Laptop 2 has most of the good bits and almost none of the bad ones. (If I couldn’t have a MacBook instead)
  • I could happily live with it though, as a replacement for my office computer.

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