Thought the device could do with a longer review. In the main, I’ve not used it nearly as much as I expected. Almost to the point where I think I would have been better off just getting a HDMI-Lightning connector for my aging iPad. But that’s being coldly logical…. but where’s the fun in that?
Whatever, it has worked excellently in the areas that I purchased it for. It has surprised me in areas that I secretly hoped it might work out (gaming). Overall I’m happy with it, though as it’s been about 10 years since I bought a PC, and more than that since I last purchased a PC laptop, I can’t really compare it to anything. Oh, except the heavy, large, cumbersome and slow work laptops I sometimes need to use. (Which reminds me, my new work laptop is due soon – wonder what rubbish that will be).
Not really what I picked it up for, but anyway. Playing some scrollers, it is fine. Trine and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles : China seemed to run without much problem. I can hear the fan start up, so even these will have a effect on battery life. Remember, it’s only onboard graphics, not a discrete card. Massive slow down when I tried Rise of the Tomb Raider though, enough that I deleted it straightaway. Mechwarrior Online wouldn’t even start.
It does play Wow alright, at least for questing, I’ve not tried it in a dungeon. The Arc mouse isn’t great for WoW, as I usually use a 17 key Naga. But it’s workable. Enough to grind out some solo questing.
It works well for this and I have no complaints. Being a full system, it has the full versions of applications. I find the keyboard pretty good to type on. It does have a little more flex than a standard laptop keyboard but not enough that its noticeable. The keys are well spaced for my normal man sized hands. I like the hot keys up the top, as they are used much more frequently than F keys these days. I really like the backlighting too, the first keyboard I’ve used with it.
I do have the Creative suite installed (well some of it) but haven’t had cause to use it yet. I imagine Photoshop will work well, but it might be a little slow when generating high def movies in Premiere, but I don’t know yet. I do most of my video work on my iMac.
Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity are excellent. GSM connection would be nice to have (I think the Surface Pro X has that option), but I just hotspot my phone. For that I use the USB-A, as it charges my phone as well and is more secure.
The USB-C I have a dongle left over from an Apple, that gives me USB-C to HDMI and that works well.
Discovered the nicely tucked away microSD slot. Massive expansion in storage if you buy a large card. Most of my stuff is cloud stored, so it’s okay. I do have to watch how many games I load though!
You’re not going to be able to connect a whole lot at once, but the USB-A, -C and microSD pretty much covers everything these days. You can get a range of USB-C dongles to connect other stuff even all at once. I haven’t been motivated to do that yet.
I’ve not really pushed this so far. Obviously gaming pushes the battery, I can probably play WoW for a couple of hours. Using it in class to play videos and put things on the screen, it happily goes all day and then some. Even while charging the phone. It would be an unusual day if I took my charger with me.
Tablet / Laptop Mode
It switches readily between the two. I sometimes find the screen a little unresponsive to my finger, but I put that down to the screen protector I’ve added. Keyboard folds readily underneath and you’re in tablet mode. Most controls are workable with your finger, but if I get stuck I just use the stylus.
Using the stylus in the little writing box mostly works well. I also haven’t actually done that too much, so I know some my feeling of being underwhelmed is about practice. The Apple Pencil on the iPad was the same (and needed an OS update or two).
I do like the face recognition for unlocking it. It works quite quickly even in darkness and opens the device.
Physically, it slides nicely into my backpack.
I’ve added a glass screen protector and a case. The case is a Procase Cover. I liked this one as it covered the whole device, seemed moderately rugged and covered the fold out stand. I don’t actually use the Surface’s stand when its in the case. While some of the colourful or picture cases were inviting, I needed something more substantial, where if I’m carrying it about at school, I can relax about it. Been a solid cover so far.
The pen is still great. I use the buttons to open other apps which it does quite quickly. One press and I have OneNote open, two and Whiteboard opens. Handy. As above, more practice.
The Arc Mouse is a fine mouse, and it’s slim nature when stored is a big plus. As above, not so good for MMO gaming 😉
Battery wise both have lasted some time.