Is a Surface Pro 4 a good solution for my situation?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 4' started by Arachas, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. Arachas

    Arachas New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2016
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    My Device:
    None
    Hi guys,

    Just registered here. Great to have a place for Surface enthusiasts.

    I'm still on the fence about buying a Surface (and if so, which one), hence I'd like to ask for your (honest) opinion.

    My situation:

    I'm a freelance marketing automation consultant (if you have no clue what marketing automation is, check out my website). This means my job is split up between my home office, various other spots for when I want to escape the house and on-site work with clients.

    My work takes place almost entirely in browsers and email clients: I work with Google Docs, Airmail and approach SalesForce (and other marketing tools) through my browsers (usually Chrome and Safari). I suppose the stuff that takes the most power is the occasional graphical work in Pixlr or Canva, when I slap together a pic to accompany blogposts. I've played the occasional game on my Mac, but I'm not into the latest graphical stuff anyway.

    You've guessed it: I currently operate from a Mac. It's a 2012 13" Macbook Pro. I bought it when I was just starting out with my business and wasn't sure whether I'd need the processing power of a Pro (I didn't) and whether I'd be gaming on it (as mentioned: I have, but not that much really).

    I love my Macbook: it's been four years and it's never let me down since. It still runs as good as day one. OSX was breath of fresh air coming out of Windows 7 (on an admittedly crappy Acer laptop at my old job) in terms of stability and snappy performance during day-to-day tasks.

    So if you like your Apple so much, why even consider purchasing a Surface device?

    Couple of reasons:

    1. I don't own a tablet yet and I really want one. For two reasons: first, I play in a band and my buddies are using iPads instead of paper. It looks sweet, saves a lot of hassle fiddling around with paper and finally you can transpose songs on the fly with a touch of a button.

    Secondly, I would love to spend my afternoon or late evening in bed (just the evening in bed, don't read that the wrong way :p) with a tablet reading comics, news, etc... right now I do all of that on my phone, since I don't want to lug my Macbook around (I prefer to leave it in the office, hooked up to the monitor). I would really like a proper screen to look at, instead of squinting at that small screen!

    2. I was more productive when I used Windows. Well, save for the constant crashing and freezing, of course. But the thing is that I freaking love Outlook (and I hear Windows 10 is a huge step forwards). I'm a big fan of the Getting Things Done method and despite the love that this approach has been getting on the Mac, the combination between email and task management in Outlook is unparalleled for me.

    "So get Outlook for Mac," you might say. Not the same thing. The Mac version simply doesn't work the same, in terms of functionality, shortcuts, etc. If it did, I would have been all over it (I have friends who even run Parallels with Windows, just to get to work with proper Outlook or Excel!!).

    With these two things in mind, a Surface device seems like a no-brainer. The Surface Pro 4 looks sexy as heck (not unimportant when you're a consultant, let me tell you) and the reviews show it's equally awesome as a tablet as well as a laptop.

    However, I have some concerns:


    1. First, I'm wondering which one I should actually pick. The SP4 is obviously the most developed, but also the most expensive. But do I really need it for my type of work? Productivity is very important to me, so is portability as a tablet. So maybe I could just get a Surface 3 (or wait for the Surface 4?).

    2. Second, battery life is apparently an issue with these devices. Now, for laptop mode, this isn't a huge issue for me: my 4-year old Macbook is hooked up to power whenever I get the chance, anyway. It lasts a few hours, but it's older and I prefer not to have to worry about the battery running out.

    As a side note, I wonder if the cable for a Surface is as long as my Macbook cable (and I'd need it to be!!).

    However, when using tablet mode (which I would definitely be using to take notes during meetings on the one hand, and watching video or browsing on the other) I don't want to be forced to put it in the charger twice a day.

    3. If I get the cheaper Surface 3, how long will it last? My Macbook Pro has an i7 processor and even though it's massive overkill for what I do on it, it does still run super-smooth. I love that and I hated the constant lagging on my old Windows machine. I hate having to wait for stuff to load, even if it's webpages. I worry a cheaper Surface might start to annoy me in a year's time (and I do want to be using it for at least 2 years).

    In short, my workflow would be as follows:


    1. At home, hook up the Surface to a monitor, mouse and keyboard and use it as a desktop computer.
    2. After work is done for the day, I'd detach the tablet part and take it downstairs for casual surfing and maybe a movie or something.
    3. When abroad, it works as a regular laptop, preferably for several hours without charge. I can take out the tablet part when I want to make notes. I don't really want to hook it up to power if I have to, until I get home. However, the tablet parts will rarely take the entire day: I will use it in laptop mode more often and if the cable is long enough, I will hook it up.
    4. As a tablet, it'd need to last about 5 hours for practice sessions and church services with the band.

    With all of that in mind, what would you guys recommend for me? A Surface 3, a Surface Pro 3, a Surface Pro 4... or something else completely?

    Thank you so much for your time.

    Henrik
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  2. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    6,334
    Likes Received:
    1,279
    Trophy Points:
    113
    If you like zippy you'll be disappointed at times by a Surface 3. Will Surface 4 fix that? Doubtful. There's currently a big performance gap between the high end Atom X7 and low end Core m3 which I doubt Intel will close very much for fear of undercutting the bread and butter Core series chips. (Id like to see them close it by 50% but I'll believe it when I see it even though they are lagging behind leading ARM SoCs like A9X, Exynos 74xx, & 8xxx, Snapdragon 820).

    An i7 might be overkill: "wasn't sure whether I'd need the processing power of a Pro (I didn't)"

    I believe an i5 model will give you the balance on performance, zippy without so much overkill.

    SP3 or SP4 is a tough call although it shouldn't be. The no-brainer answer should be SP4 but currently you might suffer some pains with SP4 unless you get lucky and get one that has no issues (I'm not sure that's even real despite the claims). In time the issues will get tamped down and battery life will be improved somewhat but cant say how much (WAG 10-12%). I cannot in good conscience recommend an SP4 today, its getting closer but not there yet. To me buying an SP4 is a leap of faith that they will get the issues under control and at least match the SP3. If they haven't got it in another 3-4 months they probably never will as focus will turn to new product.

    Chrome will still put a hurting on your battery life. use Power Profiles to your advantage, with this it's possible to straddle the Pro/non-Pro performance level and extend battery life and you can switch profiles with a couple touches.

    So I think I didn't answer all your questions and maybe added some new ones; I'll leave the rest for others.
     
  3. Philtastic

    Philtastic Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    75
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Canada
    My Device:
    SPro4
    I will second a Core i5 as a good balance of power for your money and I will mention that I am one of the "lucky" ones with what seems to be a fully working SP4 at this point. This wasn't always the case: for basically the first 3 months of release, there were some serious issues, namely sleep mode using up tons of battery, automatically waking from sleep, crashes on waking from sleep, and Intel display driver crashes. My first unit also had a keyboard port fail within the first week which caused me to get an exchange for a brand new unit at a Microsoft Store (rather than being sent a refurb which might be why many people here have issues with their exchanges). As of today, however, as far as I can tell, most everything works as I'd expect it, including sleep mode and how long the battery lasts.

    I can expect about 8 hours of battery if all I'm doing is viewing offline media (I have actually tested this a few times now during my monthly Dungeons & Dragons games where I'm viewing and editing my .pdf character sheet with the pen, referencing the Player Manual, and looking up spell details for basically the whole day on battery. I cheat a little and turn on power saving mode just to make sure that it makes it through the whole game), about 6-7 hours if surfing the web on Chrome (I don't have the same problems with Chrome as some people do UNLESS the page has animated ads, in which case, it does use a bit of CPU... but I don't see most of those due to AdBlock), and anywhere between 1-4 hours if I'm doing something that actually uses a lot of CPU and GPU (eg. games, watching movies).

    I've had both a Surface Pro 2 and now the 4 and I've been quite satisfied with both. They've been my favourite tech gadgets ever, allowing me to conveniently carry around and use a full computer wherever I am, including analyzing and editing data in Excel while standing on a subway train (I've also played Civilization V and the DOS game Betrayal at Krondor on the same trains and Diablo 3 tethered to my phone on really long bus rides using the pen for a mouse). If you like the smooth operation of your Core i7 MacBook, then I'd recommend sticking with at least a Core i5 Surface Pro 3 or 4. The Surface 3 and a hypothetical Surface 4 will probably feel a lot more sluggish in comparison to those.
     
  4. Arachas

    Arachas New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2016
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    My Device:
    None
    Appreciate the replies, guys. :)

    In response to some of the things you've said:

    1. Zippiness. Is this solely due to the fast processor? I also hear SSD has a big impact on how fast stuff is loaded. I have an SSD in my Macbook Pro. My point is... the i5 seems like overkill for what I want to be doing on the device, compared to say the Core M3 (which also doesn't have a fan... that does appeal to me in terms of silence and fewer moving parts).

    2. Wouldn't the Surface Pro 3 have enough power on board to provide said zippiness? Or is the Surface Pro 4 that much better overall?

    3. If Chrome is a problem for this device, I just won't use it. I like Edge fine (my wife has a cheaper Windows laptop and I use it on there, since she does everything in Chrome).
     
  5. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    6,334
    Likes Received:
    1,279
    Trophy Points:
    113
    1. Zip is not just the processor as the S3 has slow, by comparison, eMMC storage also and lower graphics capability which might matter in your use case. The m3 sp4 is not much slower than an i5 SP3 but its only available with 4gb RAM and 128gb storage. If your graphic editing fits in 4gb you'd probably be ok if you can work with the 128gb storage thus the i5 8/256 gets to headroom all around.

    2. Yep an SP3 would get the job done and again in that Id go with 8/256. I think its the sweet spot in the Surface Pro lineup.
     
  6. conan1600

    conan1600 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    3
    My Device:
    SPro2
    surface PRO 3 or 4 are good choices but it depends on your extended needs honestly. you will spend 1500 dollars on an i5 model (you need that) with 8 GB ram and keyboard. if you want all the convenience of a tablet then yes this is great. if you can deal with a laptop there are some VERY sexy laptops with far far far more raw power and dedicated graphics solutions that you could find for much less money. my surface pro 2 and 3 and what little I've played with the 4 make me very happy until i game or video edit. they will do it but my desktop with i5 and gtx 970 will do it in half or less the time or with 10 times the graphics and frames. photo editing is far less demanding and i find it easy to dock and work on a big screen. so if you are going for an all around package and money isn't a concern then this is for sure for you, this machine is beautiful and powerful. otherwise buy 2 separate devices to do all your jobs and sync through the cloud.

    please keep in mind that the I5 in the SP IS NOT THE SAME AS AN I5 in a desktop.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  7. Arachas

    Arachas New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2016
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    My Device:
    None
    @GreyFox7 : is that 4GB of RAM really a problem, then? I can't really see how, considering I don't do any video editing and only very, very light graphics editing. Also, 128GB storage is only the base. I can put a fat MicroSD in there if of course.

    I found this thread which expounds upon the topic: m3 or i5 128Gb and 4 Gb of RAM

    A SP3 does come with a fan and all its problems. I really like that the M3 is silent, as I'll be using the device both in meetings as well as in bed at night.

    @conan1600 : price is one of the reasons the i5 seems overkill for me. Money is not the biggest problem (I can deduct tax anyway for my business), but I'm not going to spend cash on things I don't need.

    Again, I appreciate all the replies. :)
     
  8. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    6,334
    Likes Received:
    1,279
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I don't know the size of your media files which is why I stated it the way I did. Id say get an m3 and test it out if it doesn't meet your needs you can return it within 30 days and get an i5. The m3 very well may do everything you need, it is a capable little device.

    Performance comparisons in this thread
    Forum member hands on reviews SP4
    Here , here , here , & there
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  9. hughlle

    hughlle Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Messages:
    2,693
    Likes Received:
    422
    Trophy Points:
    83
    For reference my partner now has my old 4gb i5 sp3 and uses it a lot for final cut pro and illustrator and she has never had an issue.
     
  10. rbur

    rbur New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    My experience with the SP4 i5/4gb/128gb.
    I was recently on a project in the UK which involved:
    1) converting 75 images from Canon CR2 raw format to jpg.
    2) processing each image to straighten, crop, colour correct with photoshop.
    3) import 50 of the above images into ProShow Gold (by photodex).
    4) import a further 175 images into proshow.
    5) created 30 text slides (with animation).
    6) add sound tracks.
    NOTE ... still never heard the fan come on
    7) render the slide show to mp4 video and then html5 video.
    NOTE ... the fan then started up although whisper quiet. Rendering took around 40 to 45 minutes.
    8) while rendering, I did email via browser, surfed a bit, did a basic Word document.

    Next task:
    1) imported 15 minute mp4 video into proshow.
    2) added 20 text slides and image files.
    3) added sound before and after the mp4 segments.
    5) rendered to mp4 and html5
    6) took around 45 minutes .... but not sure because I just let it run.

    I had brought my Dell M3800 workstation class laptop I7, 16gb, 256ssd, QHD touchscreen .... and never even took it out of my backpack.

    Undoubtedly, I could have done the project a bit faster with the laptop but for me the SP4 was very satisfactory.

    My only issue with the SP4 is the well documented battery and power settings but none of that holds me back.

    Your experiences may be different but I was impressed with it's performance during my usage case. I am away again on another project and left the laptop at home (now that's confidence .... or foolishness!!).

    BTW .... I also have a sandisk 128gb class 10 sd card (80mbps) and reading/writing is very fast.

    Good luck !
     
  11. Philtastic

    Philtastic Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    75
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Canada
    My Device:
    SPro4
    The fan doesn't come on unless you need it. It won't come on for web browsing, most uses of Office, drawing programs, etc. It only turns on when you're seriously using the CPU and/or GPU, eg. rendering a movie, 3D modelling, playing a demanding game.
     
  12. Arachas

    Arachas New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2016
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    My Device:
    None
    I read things about getting an i5 and then underclocking it, actually lengthening the battery life. Is that a valid approach?

    Overall, though, it seems like the only reason to get an i5 in my situation is to double the RAM and storage space. Which takes me from €922 to €1449, a rather huge step for stuff I might need.
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page

do i need a tablet if i own a surface pro

,

how good is my surface pro 4

,

surface pro 4

,

what should i buy to accompany my new surface pro 4