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Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 was one of the choices that I had to consider when I had to “refresh” my laptop as work at the lease on my previous one ended. I have so far been using the IBM/Lenovo laptops running various versions of Windows. I had stayed with Windows even though Apple Macbooks have been offered as choices for several years now, mainly because of some of the desktop applications that I have been using, which are easier to run under Windows.

This time, I had to decide between several models of Lenovo laptops running Windows 10, Apple Macbook Pro, and the newly-offered Microsoft Surface Pro 4. The Surface is being offered as part of a pilot program, which means it is experimental, and comes with little or no “official” IT support; most of the support available is from a user-group community within the company. The Surface looked like a good choice: it’s virtually a miniature laptop, can be used like a tablet, and has some nice free-hand drawing capabilities using the included pen. It runs Windows 10, and so for most practical purposes, it would be like using a laptop running the same OS.

I read several reviews, and followed the discussions in the user forum. I posted some questions that I had: how do I connect to two external monitors, how do the usual collaborative applications work, and so on. Not only did I get very prompt and helpful answers and tips, but also very encouraging stories from other users’ experiences.

So I decided to be a guinea pig and ordered the Surface for my replacement laptop. It arrived in a few days, along with the docking station to connect to external monitors. Over the Thanksgiving break, I decided to go to work one morning and set up my new work “laptop”. I followed the instructions from IT to set up the Surface while being on the company network, and it went quite smooth. I had my Surface up and running in about an hour. Then it was time to transfer all my “data” — emails, documents, etc. — from the cloud backup storage to my new device. That took a couple of hours, and here I am, two days later, typing away this post.

I have so far been really happy with the way it looks and feels. Logging in to my work account using my fingertips is really convenient. All the usual tools and applications — Microsoft Outlook, Office, VPN, web browsers, VNC — load and run quickly. The keyboard and the display are very pleasant to use. I am able to connect to my 24-inch TV monitor using a mini-DP to HDMI adapter. The audio and video are impressive. I have played with the Surface pen with some applications that come with it, and I can see how taking notes or drawing diagrams for discussions is going to be fun.

This is a review after only a couple of days of use, but I can say that so far, I have no regrets that I chose the Surface over Lenovo and Macbook this time.

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