Product Review of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 from a Die-Hard Apple User

by Kailey LaValliere


As a long-time Apple user, I never imagined myself even batting an eye at anything other than Apple for the purpose of using Adobe products. As with most Apple users, I thought it was the only option; but when my iPad couldn’t do the things I needed it to when I was traveling, I began looking elsewhere.

Back in March, I sold my 2011 MacBook Pro laptop. It was just too bulky and heavy for my needs. I wasn’t traveling as much and was settled in with a 27-inch iMac, using a basic Wacom Intuos along with Photoshop to do my editing. Although I was getting rid of my laptop, I still wanted something mobile to take with me on trips. I didn’t really think it through and ended up purchasing an iPad, because of course, Apple. I went on a few trips and it turns out, the iPad wasn’t cutting it. Although I could access my school work, the iPad wasn’t much for editing photos. For one, it has no USB port for me to import my images. Second, you don’t get the full controls of the mobile Photoshop and Lightroom apps.

So I began exploring other options. My first option was to go for the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2, but I couldn’t afford the $2000 price tag right now. I then came across the Windows Surface Pro 4. It could essentially do everything the Cintiq could do at half the price. The Apple user inside of me was screaming and saying, “You will be shunned!” Just kidding, but I was very hesitant, mainly because of my concern for compatibility. I didn’t know if my Creative Cloud subscription was specific to Apple products. After some quick research, I discovered that I could download the Creative Cloud on multiple devices, Mac or Windows, no problem. I was sold. Here are some of the specs since this is a product review:

Display: 12.3”, 5 million pixels
Pen: Bluetooth connectivity, 1024 levels of pressure
Processor: Intel Core i5
256 GB Storage
1 USB port
1 Micro SD slot
Mini display output (connect with other monitors)

If you purchase the Windows Surface Pro keyboard, it snaps into the device, allowing for more of a laptop feel. The device does have a kickstand that is really nice for being able to prop the screen up. It also has palm detection so that you can rest the side of your hand on the screen as if you were writing or drawing. I have had some sensitivity issues with that but read that if you touch the tip of the pen to the screen before resting your palm on the screen, it should work better. It might just take some practice.

I purchased the Surface Pro the day before a trip. I knew I would need it to do some major editing and be able to submit assignments for school. I am so pleased with my decision, so far! I was able to download FULL versions of Photoshop and Lightroom, no problem. I did the bulk of one of my composites on the plane ride. The battery life is pretty good and I would say it is comparable to most laptops on the market. It obviously depends on your usage and what you are doing, but it lasted a couple hours in the airport and died just before landing on a 3-hour flight. I was using Photoshop which I am sure drains the battery faster than other apps on the machine.

All in all, I am very happy with my purchase. As a long time Apple user, I can say that there are other products out there that are even better than Apple. Like I said earlier, the Wacom Cintiq Companion was my first choice, not an Apple product. I just found the iPad to be more juvenile in usage and felt very limited in my abilities to edit photos on the go.