Microsoft Surface Pro – Now the Bad Parts

With all the recent flourishes and praise I’ve been giving the Surface Pro, you might be surprised that now I bring up the things that have annoyed me about the Surface Pro. Indeed, with all that I feel the Surface Pro does right, there are things that it doesn’t. You should read this section if you’re on the fence about buying a Surface Pro, and if you can live with some of these issues and shortcomings.

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

First up, is the system, when running, it’s pretty stable, I’ve not had any crashes or blue screens. But it has happened on a few occasions where upon putting the system to sleep, it wouldn’t wake up later. This has happened either just sitting there asleep, or if I pack up and move to another location. Hitting the power button or any button doesn’t bring the device back on. I know it still has power. Pressing the Windows Logo on the Surface Pro produces a small vibration, like it normally does when on, but it just won’t wake up. The only resolution is to hold the power button down for a few seconds to force a shutdown, and click it again to power it back on… The only saving grace here is Windows 8 boots up very fast on the Surface Pro, so waiting to get back into the system isn’t that agonizing, but you’ll lose any unfinished/unsaved work. Hopefully this is only a temporary glitch that can be repaired with a system update.

No Pressure.

I’ve reported in my past posts that the Surface Pro is currently suffering from a driver issue with the Wacom digitizer pen. In applications like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter, and Manga Studio, there is no pressure sensitivity. The pen still works, but the true power of a Wacom pen is the ability to sense varying levels of pressure, and having this not work at launch is a pretty serious oversight. The missing driver also makes the top pen button useless. In my past Wacom enabled tablets Wacom’s Penabled drivers allow you to assign a function to the top button, so you can use it as a right button or a middle button. But for now, it doesn’t do anything. Once again, this should be repairable in a system update. Microsoft has mentioned that they are looking into the issue, but there is no date to a fix. Oh, before I forget… It’s seldom mentioned, but Penabled tablet pc’s, like the Surface Pro, all have a slight issue with tracking in the extreme corners of the display. I don’t particularly find this to be a major problem, but it’s something people don’t really talk about and it’s worth mentioning. 

We’re Being Jammed!

When the Surface Pro is capable of waking up properly, sometimes the wireless adapter doesn’t. This doesn’t happen often, but I’ve had issues with the wireless adapter not properly picking up a new wireless router if it’s been moved to a different wifi location. The only fix I found has been to do a system restart.

My Eyes!

The Surface Pro’s screen is excellent, but it’s small. Yes, this is pretty obvious, since it’s only an 11 inch screen. But being 11 inches and packed with a full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution makes things pretty tiny. At times, my poor eyes (which I often moan about in my blog) gets a bit strained at reading the small text in apps that don’t support zooming. Fortunately, Microsoft set the default zoom level of the system to 150% (Large), but some applications appear blurry at this zoom level, and games don’t like it. Switching zoom levels requires you to sign out, which is annoying. Luckily, having the ability to hook up a second monitor helps to remedy this situation.

My Ears!

There’s not much to say here. The Surface Pro’s speakers aren’t much to praise, they’re pretty clean and adequate, but are easily drowned out. You’ll definitely need some headphones. 

She’s Dead Jim!

No, my Surface Pro hasn’t died – yet. But ifixit.com dissected a Surface Pro to determine repair-ability, and the Surface Pro ranked a abysmal 1 out of 10 (worse than the iPad!). Indeed, Microsoft has made a truly disposable computer, and an expensive one at that. Any hopes of really servicing the Surface Pro is pretty dim, since to even get to the guts requires a heat gun to remove a pretty serious adhesive that binds the screen to the magnesium body – you’re not going to just pop this one open… Some estimates on repair costs for any component failures or battery replacement is almost half the cost of a new one… This may be one of the only devices out there that I would consider buying an extended warranty for. 

We Need More Power!

The last two items of potential dismay, which haven’t bothered me much, are the battery life and the magnetic power connector. Some folks have complained that the 4 hour battery life is too short. But for me, that hasn’t been an issue, it’s better than what I’m accustomed to in a Windows based device. The power connector, although magnetically clasps onto the side of the device, isn’t as fine tuned as Apple’s MagSafe adapters. It requires some maneuvering into place, which sort of eliminates the convenience. On the bright side, it’s better and more durable than the standard straight pin plugs found on your standard Windows laptop. 

Final Word

The above are pretty much the items that I have any complaints over. With all the things that the Surface does right, it’s not entirely perfect, but a few of the issues I’ve shown here are software related and can be fixed with future updates. The only thing that can’t be fixed is the next to impossible to repair construction. So hopefully the majority of my complaints will be addressed in the coming weeks and months – if my Surface Pro doesn’t require any repairs in that time.