Before you wade into this, it might be helpful to know that I’m in the graphic arts industry, working as a trainer, writer, production artist, and retoucher. Thus, my primary applications are Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Only rarely do I venture into Microsoft Word, and I only launch Excel when I have to fill out an expense report. Consequently, my requirements are that a laptop have a good color display, plenty of RAM, and good performance.
I’m a Mac user of 25 years’ standing, and I still regard the Mac as my native habitat. But because most of my clients in the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) space are on Windows, I need a PC laptop for training sessions. I’ve had ThinkPads for years, because I value their reliability and excellent keyboards, but they were heavy. After years of carrying around heavy MacBook Pros and ThinkPads, I switched last year to a MacBook Air and a Surface Pro 3—together, they weighed about what my 15-inch MacBook Pro did.
So, why buy a Surface Pro 4 when my SP3 is only a year old? Well, the increased RAM (16GB; the SP3 maxes out at 8GB), the new model weighs a skosh less (1.7 lb, as compared to the 1.8 lb SP3—big deal), has a slightly larger display (a whopping 12.3 inch in versus the 12 inch SP3), and the supposedly even better stylus and keyboard.
The package is Apple-like in its elegance and simplicity (put down the pitchforks, fanboys). There’s a clear plastic tab on the lower right corner with a subtle pointer indicating that you should make an incision so you can pull out the innards. There is almost no text, no instructions, just a lovely photo of the SP4 on the sleeve. If you lack the spatial reasoning skills to open it, you’ll never get to enjoy the SP4.