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Living with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4: The best tablet-laptop hybrid around

Posted: , by John V.


Living with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4: The best tablet-laptop hybrid around

Mobile World Congress 2016 has come and gone, leaving a wake of awesome smartphones behind it. Lots of work was put into covering all the cool smartphones and mobile stuff announced at the show, but behind the scenes, Microsoft’s latest tablet undeniably helped me to crank out some serious coverage – not only for editing videos on the fly, but also in keeping my spine’s curvature in place. Tradeshows are no joke, especially when you’re having to lug around all your gear from one place to another.

For mobile’s biggest show, I decided to travel as light as possible, so rather than bringing along my trusty Asus ultrabook that I’ve used for the last few tradeshows, I opted to go with sleeker, more compact sized Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Size alone, there’s a vast discrepancy between the two – whereby the Surface Pro 4 gets the upper hand. While some colleagues of mine were skeptical about this decision, especially when work consists of heavy video editing and rendering, I was actually far more impressed by how well the Surface Pro 4 stacked up against my workload.

More than just media consumption

Living with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4: The best tablet-laptop hybrid around
When I think of tablets, I normally envision those $500 priced ones that I’ve used in the past mainly for media consumption. The iPad, Samsung’s line of Galaxy Tabs, and the occasional Nexus, they all pretty much offered me the same experience. However, they’re not suitable for getting any real work done – you know, the stuff beyond just replying to emails, cropping images, surfing the web, and much more. To be fair, though, I’ve used them for word processing, which is the extent of what I’d use them when it comes to ‘getting work done.’

For everything else, however, they continue to pale in comparison to my ultrabook. And that, folks, is why I find the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 so impressively useful. It’s designed to be a tablet first and foremost, but it has the horsepower of a laptop – and that’s the recipe I’ve been looking for when it comes to traveling light. Now, just for some clarification, I’ve been using the entry-level version of the Surface Pro 4, which can be customized to fit the needs of some many users.

That entry-level model turns out to the $899 Intel Core m3 variant, which comes with 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD. Indeed, the price is more than the other ‘premium’ tablets, but its versatility goes nicely to justify its higher cost. And the cost even includes the Surface Pen, which of course, adds yet another layer of depth to what it has to offer. Still, for those who still prefer the laptop experience, the Surface Pro 4 offers that with the optional Type Cover, which will set you back another $129.99. We won’t lie, it’s a stiff cost for a detachable keyboard, but if you want that seamless integration, it’s the best solution.

Good enough for video editing, but not 4K editing

One of the main reasons I loved using the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is because it handles video editing to my liking, unlike how some Atom-based things tend to crawl and bog down for the occasion. The Surface Pro 4, on the other hand, doesn’t lose its responsiveness when it comes to editing, trimming, adding special effects, and all the sorts of functions needed in getting a good video stitched together. It honestly works rather well, nearly as good of a performance to my ultrabook.

In fact, all the videos on our YouTube channel voiced by me were created using the Surface Pro 4 and CyberLink’s PowerDirector. The 1080p videos captured by my Panasonic Lumix GH4 were all able to play and render smoothly on the Surface Pro 4, but seeing that the GH4 is capable of shooting in 4K as well, I thought it’d be worth a shot to see how the Surface Pro 4 can handle them.

While 1080p videos pose no problems at all, 4K videos on the other hand, just prove to be too much for the Surface Pro 4. Playback isn’t an issue, however, things just begin to crawl the moment we throw in a 4K video into the timeline of our video editing software. You can forget about cropping, just because this Intel Core M variant just can’t handle the pressure – there’s just significant delay in its handling.

The only tablet that can truly double as a laptop

Apple’s new iPad Pro has been on this quest of bridging that gap between laptops and tablets, but people forget that Microsoft has already done it – for a long time even. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the 4th generation in the line, improves upon everything about its predecessor. From its upgraded hardware under the hood, to its even slimmer chassis, the Surface Pro 4 ensures that there’s no compromise in achieving that laptop performance, but in a tablet form factor.

Price wise, the $899 starting cost can definitely be perceived as exorbitant for those who are traditionally aware about these ‘premium’ $500 priced tablets. Those around that range are obviously media consuming tablets, with just a small pinch of productivity thrown into the mix. They simply don’t offer the customary software we’re used to using on our computers day in, day out. As much as some people will vouch otherwise, especially when word processing and spreadsheet apps are at their disposal, we all know that Windows 10 based devices just offer more of the stuff we need to get stuff done.

And that is exactly why I’ve chosen the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 as being my daily driver, for now, that is. It’s more than effective in dealing with the work I have to accomplish each and every day, while also sufficing for those downtime moments for media consumption. Sure, I might eventually start experimenting with 4K video, which this current configuration is unable to handle, but I presume that the better spec’d variants of the Surface Pro 4 will do better. Best of all, its compact size is a delightful treat I’ve been relishing because I’m no longer having to struggle lugging around my heavier and larger ultrabook.

  • Options

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 13:11 1

1. F154V (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Mar 2016)

Whatever happened to the "Living with the LG V10" series?

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 13:21 33

2. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4270; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

He couldn't live with it.


posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:51 1

14. Wiencon (Posts: 1709; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)

Oscar for best comment goes to you

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 16:26

23. MSi_GS70 (unregistered)

not the best.. MateBook from Huawei is best

posted on 02 Mar 2016, 09:41

41. gaby1451 (Posts: 114; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)

I'm dead

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 13:22 12

3. Pattyface (Posts: 1510; Member since: 20 Aug 2014)

This is hands down the best tablet/laptop available

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 13:42 2

5. bucky (Posts: 2442; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

agreed. I see them everyday at my work and they are outstanding. If i were shopping for a portable pc, it would certainly be down to the 13" macbook pro and this.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 19:50

30. yoosufmuneer (Posts: 1456; Member since: 14 Feb 2015)

13" MacBook Pro doesn't have dedicated GPU but it has integrated GPU. Which isn't worth it IMO to shell the extra cash out to get the MBP unless you use FCPX. Even the excellent XPS 13 is cheaper tho

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 13:56 1

6. Unordinary (Posts: 996; Member since: 04 Nov 2015)

best "tablet"..maybe, if youre stupid enough to consider it a full blown tablet lol.

best laptop; you gotta be f&*%#ing high lmfaooooo.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 15:12 7

17. marorun (Posts: 2872; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)

This thing with an i7 is about the best tablet and laptop you can get beside if you are gaming then a gamer laptop is better.

Its offer the most easy to move around factor and a full windows experience not like some limited mobile OS tablet trying to look pro.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 19:13 4

28. NoToFanboys (Posts: 1008; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)

I think he meant best hybrid, not best tablet or laptop

posted on 02 Mar 2016, 07:55

39. Shocky (Posts: 2065; Member since: 16 May 2012)

Yes, best tablet is the Pixel C, best hybrid is the Surface Pro 4. :-)

posted on 02 Mar 2016, 00:14 2

36. MrElectrifyer (Posts: 1861; Member since: 21 Oct 2014)

What's a "full blown tablet" to you? One of them bastardized ARM tablets?

posted on 08 Mar 2016, 14:36

47. NumberingYourFate (Posts: 87; Member since: 21 Jan 2016)

You only disagree because, at the same time, you comment on every single doom and gloom article directed towards Microsoft. If this was Apple you'd be polishing their trombone.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 19:08

27. S.R.K. (banned) (Posts: 678; Member since: 11 Feb 2016)

The Sony Vaio version is much better and sexier.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 13:40 5

4. Wulfgardr (Posts: 66; Member since: 29 Oct 2014)

Definitely a nice machine

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:00 14

7. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 7802; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

So you go an buy the entry-level Surface Pro 4, and you're complaining that you can't edit 4K video? DUH!

That's like buy a Ferrari and complain you cant get 400 miles of driving from a tank of gas.

Didnt you even see the release video with the guy (I forgot his name)?

If you want to edit such it is obviously you can't use a base mobile processor...ON ANY LAPTOP or desktop. ANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Editing 4K needs at least an i5. The guy stated that in the release video because I watched it.
You can expect a Core M to handle high-end tasks and games, it just can't. I mean you may as well have a Celeron in the thing.

I bought the i5 version because and I want the i7 Surface Book for $2000. I'm only waiting for the price to come down a bit. I dont want to pay more than $1500 or so.

Eve the tasks I throw at it, the only thing I dont like is the things runs hot all the time. The fans are constantly kicking in, especially when web browsing or watching YouTube.

But it is a perfect machine. The only other downside is when I open Photoshop. The resolution is simply too high for this app. It makes everything way to small, and then when I lower the resolution, it looks ugly and with the display being so tiny compared to my 17" laptop, it makes it hard to work on sometimes.

But I have no regrets. Its much more than what Tim Cook stupid ass tried to claim about the Surface. As soon as Apple does it, everyone is going to love it.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:03 4

9. bucky (Posts: 2442; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

This is an excellent product but to call it perfect is far from the truth. Being called a laptop and yet struggling to balance on one's lap is my biggest issue. Also as a tablet, its large and lacks any apps.

Its a cool, good quality hybrid. But FAR from perfect.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:51 5

15. aleunge (Posts: 30; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

Well, with that view, no device is perfect (which might certainly be technically right). It is still the best solution if you want both form factors and that's what the writer is getting at. And there's still a Surface Book if the laptop functionality is more important to you... or tons of other detachable keyboard laptops out there.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 19:30

29. jojon (Posts: 329; Member since: 11 Feb 2014)

..well said

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:13 2

10. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 2072; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)

That's funny, because the iPad Pro does 4K video editing with no problems. So, where is it that the Surface Pro 4 is better? The iPad has over 700k tablet specific apps, it runs cooler, it has a better stylus, and it doesn't suffer from scaling issues because it doesn't use legacy garbage that isn't meant for touch use. SP4 sounds like a lot of fail for $1k+.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:38 14

12. Ordinary (Posts: 2136; Member since: 23 Apr 2015)

You can do 4k video editing with i5 version on a much higher level and it cost roughly the same as iPad Pro and you get a stylus as extra. Apple Pencil costs extra. Windows Store has 700k + Steam games.

iPad Pro does sound like a fail with high end hardware but mobile OS.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 16:45 2

25. NoToFanboys (Posts: 1008; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)

Chill bruh, the Apple fanboy will never understand.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:44 2

13. aleunge (Posts: 30; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

Haha you're the type that thinks the iPad Pro is really Pro right? My old Android phone can "edit" 4K video. Heck my WP can too. We're talking about production level video editing here, the same distinction between editing photos in Snapseed or iwhatever you have on your phone and real Photoshop that runs on a SP (or Fallout shelter vs "legacy garbage" like Fallout 4). I wouldn't be surprised if the Windows store has a basic splicer/filter video editor (or maybe not since it is a little dead). If you look at the Pro/highend capabilities, the other device sounds more like the ultimate fail for $800 (neither are $1k+, both don't include keyboards, one doesn't even come with a stylus).

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 15:17 9

18. marorun (Posts: 2872; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)

Napalm you prove how moronic some apple user/lover can be ( nor all of them are like this luckyly.. )

The i5 version cost less than the ipad pro and can do 4k editing no problem.

Its can also run full fledged video editing software not tone down mobile one.

With the i5 or i7 version you can even play games on it real PC game with much higher resolution and texture , lightning ect than on the ipad pro.

you are the fail.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 15:38

20. bucky (Posts: 2442; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

This isn't a gaming machine, don't kid yourself. The CPU will jump into the mid 90's at the first site of a game. Do it for a few months and it will burn. Out.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 16:06 3

21. Ordinary (Posts: 2136; Member since: 23 Apr 2015)

You can easily play majority of the games.

posted on 02 Mar 2016, 08:04

40. Shocky (Posts: 2065; Member since: 16 May 2012)

No, no it can't.

Games worth playing are designed around high end systems, nobody with a high end system would even attempt to play games with crappy onboard graphics.

The Surface devices are not fast enough for PC gaming, but too fast for mobile games on their pathetic app store.

You might get away with lowest settings on some PC games but it won't be pleasant, unless they're fairly old.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 14:26 1

11. Furbal (Posts: 884; Member since: 22 Sep 2012)

Any laptop with the dual core mobile ships is probably going to be a failure at 4k editing. I know my T450s does not handle it well.

Still an awesome 2 in 1, would love to have one.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 19:56 1

31. yoosufmuneer (Posts: 1456; Member since: 14 Feb 2015)

"Editing 4K needs at least an i5""

Wrong. The 2015 MacBook with the same Intel Core M can edit and export 4K video faster (on FCPX) than a PC running Premiere. It depends on how the software is optimized for the specific hardware.


posted on 02 Mar 2016, 11:09

42. Unordinary (Posts: 996; Member since: 04 Nov 2015)

My iPhone 6S+ seems to edit 4K video just fine :)

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 15:33

19. hado86 (Posts: 69; Member since: 15 Oct 2014)

I just hope they stop their aggressive throttling, ship it with keyboard and give it thunderbolt 3 for surface pro 5

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 16:19

22. Jason2k13 (Posts: 1114; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)

All though this is a good tablet/laptop, the battery life is not very good for its price range, and it did not improve since the SP3.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 16:44

24. mixedfish (Posts: 1144; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)

The 'best' tablet is the Vaio Canvas, anything below it are just toys for media and light office work. These ULV chips aren't very good, even my 3.5yr old i7 3520m Laptop still benches higher or close to the top spec i7 on the Surface.

posted on 02 Mar 2016, 02:38

37. Fellwalker (Posts: 283; Member since: 04 Apr 2014)

I'm disappointed with recently available 6th generation processors too . I'm struggling to find a replacement laptop or preferably surface-pro type that can match My core i7 2720QM processor in my 4 year old Dell XPS

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 19:07 1

26. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1513; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)

This man got a Surface pro with an Intel M processor and dis 1080p video editing Ok !
I am glad he could that well with a Surface pro M. but everyone who knows about the
The surface pro 3/4 will tell you the all round cheapest do it all is the Surface pro 3 or 4 with an Intel I5 cpu with 8 gigs of ram and 128 or 256 gigs of main storage memory. this device Rocks but an i7 CPU is great too if you can afford to buy one

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 20:49

32. theBankRobber (Posts: 676; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)

I just got the Dell Inspiron 7348 2 in 1 laptop/tablet and its blows this away. I7 5th gen processor with 8gb of ram and 500gb hard driveand includes a stylus built in. I use it as a tablet a lot and its just great. Got it on sale for $700 and I just dont see why people would waste money on the very limited Surface Platform when you get any 2 in 1 units that gives you much more bang for you money.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 21:06

33. dizzyup (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Mar 2016)

I've been using an i7/16GB Surface Pro 4 w/Fingerprint ID Type Cover since Thanksgiving, but still have a few problems:
1. The touchpad stops functioning and the mouse pointer just disappears as I'm using it. I have to tap somewhere on the screen to get the pointer to return. This happens several times a day. This occurs along with random Type Cover disappearing acts, where I have to physically disconnect/reconnect to resume functionality.
2. Wake from sleep is still broken. If I wake the device after an hour of sleep, it seems like it's completely off except for the fact that the keyboard backlight can still be controlled through the Type Cover. I have to long press the power button to reset the device and it's really annoying. I've gone back to setting it to hibernate instead of sleep in power settings, but that's not really a fix for the problem.

posted on 02 Mar 2016, 06:42

38. elitewolverine (Posts: 4991; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)

I would check the type cover for any kind of hardware issues, have not had that issue with our SP4, got ours in December.

As for sleep, ours seems to work fine, we mainly use it for coding and database analysis though. So there may be things installed that can be acting up. I hate resetting software, but you might want to try resetting it all.

Also are you in the preview program? Mine is not

posted on 07 Mar 2016, 12:55

45. dizzyup (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Mar 2016)

Thanks for the reply! I'll see if I can borrow a friend's Type Cover and see if the problem persists.

This problem has occurred since stock, so I don't know if it's an application that's causing the freeze. I heard that Chrome was a culprit that caused the mouse pointer to freeze, but I can confirm this happens in several apps, including Chrome.

No, I'm not in the preview program.

Your info is appreciated!

posted on 04 Mar 2016, 23:53

44. kevin91202 (Posts: 514; Member since: 08 Jun 2014)

The sleep issue is well known, and Microsoft was supposed to have sent out a fix for it in january. I would search online for the software updates.

posted on 07 Mar 2016, 13:01

46. dizzyup (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Mar 2016)

Thanks. I just checked updates and I'm current. I was extremely excited for the February 17th update (which was supposed to fix the Sleep Issue), but unfortunately, the update hasn't fixed my problem. I did research a bit and saw that others are also still experiencing the sleep issue after applying the update.
Here's hoping for universal fix in the near future.

posted on 01 Mar 2016, 21:18 2

34. Navi_m (Posts: 779; Member since: 09 Jan 2016)

How can some1 just justify , ipad pro over surface 4!! Surface 4 is best out there, no one comes close !!

posted on 03 Mar 2016, 16:41

43. lalalaman (Posts: 627; Member since: 19 Aug 2013)

should have said that 4k vid editing is impossible with the entry level version u are using and not wholly all the SP4

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