Get on this totally relevant picture.
When lockdown was first announced in England, I made a very concious decision to not buy anything but food. In my opinion, nothing but emergancy services should have been open. I’ll admit, my views can sometimes veer to the extreme; but as far as I was concerned, the goverment should have bought out the stock of supermarkets, and distribituted it fairly, so people didn’t even have to go shopping (but then there are other logistics in that…at least it would have stopped panic buying.) I took the pandemic very, very seriously.
Of course, as much as I tried, I found it was impossible to not buy anything but food. I ran out of pet supplies much faster than anticipated. My dog had a growth spurt and needed a new harness. He also learnt how to open cupboard doors. He also smashed a few things. So I re-invented my rule; if I’d still have to buy it urgently out of lockdown, then I could buy it. This way I cut out any unnecessary, impulse boredom buying.
I stuck with this for two months, even though I wanted to jump on the renovation bandwagon with everyone else. I didn’t want to give my money to shops who’d opened too early and put their workers at risk. When it hit the end of May, though, and lockdown rules began to ease, I made my first unnecessary purchase, and it was a bit of a splurge. After a whole two hours of considering it, I bought myself a Surface Pro 7.
I justified it to myself in a few ways. Firstly, my Personal Injury Claim had been paid, so I thought I deserved a treat. Secondly, my current laptop is a gaming laptop so it has no portability, and no battery life to speak of. Thirdly, I was intruiged by the idea of being able to handwrite notes out and have them convert to word documents. Finally I needed something I could tuck away quickly and easily should the dog decide to jump on me while I was writing my essays – the MSI wasn’t coping very well with puppy paws all over it.
I’ve used it for nearly two months now, and religiously for three weeks, and I’ve got to say I have almost no regrets. It’s an absolutely fantastic piece of tech; fast, reliable, responsive, and most of all useful. Its battery life doesn’t quite match the claims online, but I can get a solid six hours out of it at high use. It runs Microsoft Office, Photoshop and Fresco with little to no issues (Photoshop takes a long time to open, but when it’s open it works fine.)
You have to buy the keyboard and pen separately, which is a bit of a con in my opinion, but I’m glad I did. The keyboard is very sturdy considering it is incredibly thin, and though I was convinced my heavy handed typing would damage it, it’s standing up to my fat fingers. The pen is comfortable to use, and 9.5 times out of 10, the screen responds to your pen, rather than the bit of your hand that nudges the screen while holding the pen. It’s a fantastic tool for digital artists. I can’t draw, but I managed to create two pieces I’m really proud of.
I drew this fish, which I then tried to make in to a new layout. It didn’t work.
The handwriting to text option is very accurate, even with my uneven-but-swirly handwriting, but it is a little slow. Punctuation and spaces in particular are hard to place, it couldn’t be used in a fast note-taking environment. That being said, the pen is great for highlighting and editing documents in a school-teachery way.
Neither of these things are necessary though, as without them, the Surface Pro just functions as a very sophisticated tablet. The pen and the keyboard do make life much easier, and make using the Surface Pro very comfortable. If you want to do artwork, grab the pen. If you’re going to be doing lots of typing, grab the keyboard. If you just want a reliable tablet but you don’t want an iPad, buy neither.
There’s a mouse too, but I didn’t buy that, so I can’t comment on it.
It does have some issues, though, but they’re almost not worth mentioning. The tablet has a decent stand build in, but if you’re using it with a keyboard as a laptop (on your lap) it’s not particularly stable. Sometimes the whole set-up just collapses on you, but in a testament to its robustness, it survives this. Another annoyance is the charger, which stays in place with a fairly weak magnet. More than once, I’ve plugged it in and put it on the floor next to the couch, only for the force of putting it down to knock the charger out. It’s probably the worst flaw of the Surface Pro, but that’s not a negative, just a minor inconvenience.
My only regret is not getting the i7 model. I have a sneaking suspicion that after six months, this product is going to slow down massively.