“Desktop or Laptop?” a guy behind me in line at Starbucks asks his companion. “Macbook!” he replies confidently and proudly. “Lot of RAM?” …. “16GB! It works pretty well!”… wait…. what? pretty well?
“I do have the i7” he announces proudly, “but I don’t find it to overheat . Wait…what? You pay top dollar for a machine (>$2000 prolly for that config) and it overheats in a professional setting? You’ve GOT to be kidding me. When the other dude starts talking about ‘cooling pads’ for laptops the hilarity is complete. I mean, that’s what Windows gamers were using 15 years ago to much ridicule from Apple heads… this is too rich!
On a brighter note, I picked up a Surface Pro 3; incredibly cheaply by the way thanks to a less than accurate listing on Ebay! It was billed as a “Surface 3”, but in the picture it clearly showed a Pro, with even a sticker on the back stating the i3 processor! Add a messed up Windows 10 Educational install, a little dent near the USB port (not affecting operation at all) and nobody bid. I low-balled him at $80 and he took it! With shipping it came to $96. When I got it, I made a fresh Windows USB installer and did a fresh install. A few driver updates and 10 Pro activated just fine with the embedded BIOS key. All was beautiful except……oh no!…….there’s a one inch strip across the screen where touch doesn’t register! Don’t worry, all it needed was a digitizer calibration and everything is perfect now. My styli from the Surface 3 work and even the Type Covers attach and work perfectly, although they’re a little smaller than a Pro, so I start looking for a matching one.
Mind you, the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover fits as well and is much improved, with a bigger trackpad and better keys, but it’s $150 new… ouch! There are used ones for $50-$60 all day on Ebay, but there’s an even better option and it’s thanks to something I care very little about: the NFL. You see, they had a partnership (still do? don’t know!) and made a whole range of Covers for all the different teams. A Packers one is more than an unbranded one, but I guess nobody is proud of the NY Giants because a new-in-box cover with their logo cost me $68 shipped. I did have to buy a charger for $20 but for under $200 total this is now one of my favorite machines. The XPS 13 I’m typing this on still has a better keyboard, but the Pro 4 Type Cover is quite good really, much better than the old ones, and with the tablet together weighs barely over 2 pounds. The screen is gorgeous, its 3:2 aspect ratio wonderful; full size USB port, good speakers and surprisingly good battery life and sleep behavior. I love the magnetic charger connection (credit where credit’s due: thanks Steve Jobs!)
Installed Cakewalk on it, with the Lounge Lizard, B4, Ivory piano: flawless. It sits perfectly on the sheet music stand on my P115 together with a Korg Nanokontrol, Zoom G3X on the floor as an interface, Korg Microkey velcroed to the piano: incredible sounding super-compact gig system. Apple users eat your heart out, you can’t even get this from the big fruit if you took a second mortgage out on your house! I’m having a flashback to seeing my dear friend with a touch screen hooked up to his Mac, trying to figure out how to make the drivers work on this (Windows 95 days….ouch). Mac OS does not natively support and thus understand touch… and that’s not because Jobs is gone; quite the contrary, it’s because of him, because he said that touch is for iPads, and because he decided to separate development between ‘computers’ and ‘tablets’. Microsoft was fucking right! CPU power will catch up sooner than later and tablets ARE computers! Windows 10 is awesome and touch works on software that was never even designed for it (Ableton Live 9 I’m looking at you!)
So there it is: I can HIGHLY recommend the Surface Pro, even the 3 that I have with i3 and 4GB of RAM. You can pick these up for $350 or $400 used with a Type Cover and Stylus, they’re incredibly well made and as long as there are no cracks in the screen I would not worry about buying used. If you fly a lot, it’s amazing to be able to take the keyboard off and use it as a tablet which is allowed during taxiing and landing. The battery will last for 7 hours on mine watching video in airplane mode, and probably for 12 on a new one. The screen is gorgeous, headphone output sounds excellent and loud, and operation is super snappy. Oh, and you can add a micro SD card. Another thing Jobs thought was a bad idea…..