Monday, 28 March 2016

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review

You never know how good you've got it until it changes to..... how good you had it.

I had an iPad, but due to circumstances I needed to be mobile and have Windows. The Surface Pro 4 sounded ideal and ticked all the boxes. I read the reviews and most were positive, they did mention not having a place to put the pen was annoying, but I thought What did you need a pen for? I prefer typing to writing anyway!". I had a Samsung note and hardly used the pen, I just played with it when I was bored.

So I looked for the cheapest price and was very happy to find an excellent price on Orange. I've always wanted to shop there. The device arrived a few days later than I expected, but I wasn't concerned because I was busy.  Once it arrived it was nicely packaged in a box that was much larger than the device and I enjoyed unpacking it. It was fully charged so I went about setting it up immediately.

Touchmail's interface demonstration on their website as of 28 March 2016The first irk was the keyboard, typing on a touchscreen means you often make typos and I've always had these little errors corrected for me. Whereas on the Surface only some apps do it, on Chrome (the app I use the most) it never happened. Even MS Edge doesn't do it.  The only app so far that I can remember is my email which is called Touchmail.
Then of course there is the pen. To browse some websites you have to have it, those menu options that the mouse needs to hover over, well you need the pen for that. Nothing happens if you just tap your finger, so you're forced to go fetch the pen.  Of course, because the pen is not securely attached to the device you need to try remember where you used it last, go look for it and when you finally find it you've been signed out of your internet banking platform.

Then suddenly, just over one month of using the device I saw a hairline crack going from the top middle of the device all the way to the left middle of the screen. I hadn't dropped it, I hadn't banged it,
You can see the crack clearly from the middle bottom to the right and up
I hadn't treated it roughly at all. The iPad 2 I had got treated badly in all sorts of ways. Towards the end we didn't really care and its corners were reshaped into a "dropped on" shape, that's how many times it got dropped, bumped and badly handled.
So, is there any way to sort this out? Of course Microsoft doesn't guarantee the screen, they know its rubbish. Therefore any of you out there with kids, DO NOT get a surface, it'll be unable to be used within the first week!

When that happened I thought I had better get the Surface keyboard. At a premium of about R2000 I never wanted to, but its better than losing the whole device. So I got one and  few days later I flipped the keyboard around the back and started playing a driving game. Immediately one of the keys came off.  So now every time I was to play a game that uses the movement of the tablet I have to remove the keyboard and plug it back in again.  Then, because of the changes there are times the keyboard doesn't register.  Another frustration to annoy you on a "busy" day.

Finally there are the freezing problems. Windows has always had problems of programs crashing and your computer freezing, but when the Surface freezes I tried to hold in the power button to switch it off.  All that happens is it sometimes comes up with a "Slide down to Shut down" screen. However you can't slide the bar down! It's extremely annoying, all I've managed to do so far is leave it until it decides it wants to cooperate again.  Sometimes that is only the next day.

While the device is nice and functions reasonably well it lacks the refinement of Apple products that just make using them so easy.  They have introduced a product before properly solving the problems of differentiating between a click and moving the mouse cursor, the problem of somewhere to put the pen and delivering a hardy product at a reasonable price. The Surface Pro was very expensive and to cut costs on the most common breakage item, the screen, is absolutely annoying.

So, my rating, out of five stars, would be three stars. It's great having a PC in this small form, but it doesn't work well as a tablet. To enjoy it you still need PC accessories, and the build quality isn't suitable for this form factor.

Rating: A poor 3\5