For the better part of a year I’d been contemplating about getting a new laptop. Not that the laptop I was using (and still own) wasn’t getting the job done. Contrarily, my 2012 11-inch Macbook Air was holding up perfectly fine. It was still (and still is) fast, reliable, and oh-so beautiful. But OSX was simply getting a tad dull. It was becoming mundane. Having been exposed to the OS for practically my entire life – even having gone to 7 different schools, across 3 different continents, you’d think one of them would be a Windows-centric building, but nope; it seemed that OSX simply would not leave my back – the entire interface began to feel a bit too familiar. Now admittedly, I’ve run away from Windows devices, and would get shivers and look to find body-armour and tell my loved ones that I love them if I were to ever come in contact with one. Because not only were my experiences with the software – and the companies who forcefully plugged it into their bulky, choppy, and frankly pathetic excuses for hardware – provided horror stories to tell my grandkids; but it seemed the same consensus had been reached amongst the masses (by which I mean the less tech-savvy, over-privileged, cool kids). Especially during the dark days of the Windows 8 era.
But after the release of Windows 10, and the continuing success of Microsoft’s poster child, The Surface Pro, my interest in making the bold move and hacking the long-running saying, “Once you go Mac, you never go back” into bloody shreds, was growing exponentially. Moreover, my rekindled passion for gaming, and need to get my game on during the comfort of my reception desk at work, meant that I needed to find a portable machine that didn’t make getting games on it as difficult as Chad Michael Murray finds as difficult to muster an emotion. If you didn’t understand that reference, I’m pretty much saying that Apple is as racist towards video games as Mel Gibson is to your lawyer. That was racist.
So I did it. I took the plunge. I bought the Surface Pro 4 in April and began my journey into the dark-side. And for the first couple weeks, I was quite blown away. This device – the one that I’m typing on right now – is fantastic. It’s fast, extremely versatile with the detachable keyboard, pen, and kickstand; making it perfect to use on a regular desk for longer periods of semi-intensive work/gaming, and perfect for when you simply want something to grab and surf the web or watch a video on in bed. Everything works as it should, and I was genuinely surprised as to how fast I got used to Windows 10. Actually, there are even some features that I can’t imagine how I’ve survived this long without them. Honestly, the only major gripe I had for the first couple weeks was the battery life; but even that didn’t bother me seeing that I never strayed from an outlet for too long.
But after the initial, as I like to call it, “look at my awesome new device that I know I’ll never suffer buyer’s remorse with” period, things started to get…troubling.
The pen would randomly stop working, either entirely until I did a manual reset, or would write but not erase or open One Note. The device sometimes wouldn’t come out of sleep. Microsoft Edge would hang far too often, even on media light websites, and would sometimes even crash completely. Windows Hello wouldn’t recognize me 1/5 times, even though I know that my face hadn’t changed drastically to Steve Buscemi from the last time it’d worked. The screen would become unresponsive to touch, and would sometimes even go into a frits and begin flickering while watching a simple YouTube video. And simple everyday tasks, that you’d think should be of no issue for a device of this caliber, would become a bit of a teeth-grinder. Everything works, just not as seamlessly as you’d want it to. It seems that everything you do with the Surface Pro 4 has a quirk to it. Quirks that, I know aren’t Windows based. Or rather, aren’t solely Windows based. They’re quirks and issues with the device itself.
Now being a patient man who isn’t excreting money, I held on to the Surface Pro 4, wanting to justify my purchase. But as the weeks went by, I began to get more and more frustrated. When you have three devices sitting on top of your table, which include the Surface Pro 4, the aforementioned Macbook Air, and a first-generation iPad Mini, and are going for the latter two devices than the first one…You know there’s a problem. I keep going back to one word: Refinements, refinements, refinements. The one thing that Apple, like it or not, have mastered. Yes they are no where near as dominant when it comes to variations and technical prowess. And yes they are ridiculously obnoxious for asking such a high price for their, quite frankly, weak devices. And yes they are even more obnoxious to keep all of their apps and other devices so “Apple-centric.” But they’ve mastered their OS. Tinkered with the tiniest little knobs and doo-hickies to make the computing “experience” as refined as possible. Again, it’s not perfect. You have no idea how I’d love to have a split-screen function on MacOS, or a proper way to organize your documents and files like in Windows, or a proper built in disk defragmenter, or even a damn start button. But what Apple does perfectly is have their machine simply work. And it’s in the microscopic details and day do day use that you’ll notice these things.
It’s simply unfortunate that for a device so sleek, so versatile, so solid, it lacks in the simplest (yet most essential) of ways. And it sucks because when it works, it works like a dream. Playing games like Mass Effect 3 and Civilization one minute, then jumping to write a quick article, to flinging off the keyboard and watching YouTube videos in bed all so seamlessly, was a blast, and was exactly what I was looking for. I just wish doing these things were as quick and painless as the hardware wants it to, without the software bogging it down. So after about 3 or so months of hair-pulling and expletives, I made the decision to take this device to Craigslist. I was willing to bite the bullet of the $300 loss, which I could then put forward to yet another Macbook.
Then came July 14th, 2016. The day that stopped me from selling my Surface Pro 4. On this day, Microsoft released a major firmware update to many of its devices, primarily focusing on the Surface devices. This update consisted of many promising fixes that would definitely make other Surface users like myself, very happy. But whether or not this update was actually going to be our knight in shining armour, or simply our Shrek disguised as our Prince Charming, was still to be seen.
Well it’s been a few days since the update, and I can say that I am…cautiously optimistic. So far there have been no screen flickering, pen disconnection, touch screen finickiness, or other former stability issues. This update has rekindled that initial love I had with this device. It brought me back to the first time I used it at a BestBuy, where it seduced me with all its components, dressed in a full metal chassis. This update actually made me take down the Craigslist ad and give the Surface Pro 4 one more chance. Let’s just hope this is finally when I put the ring on this device.