Surface Pro 4 for Programming & Photography

I am always looking for lightweight laptops. For last few years, I have been using Chromebooks. Chromebooks are great; I can log into my servers using shell and work with most code easily. But lately, I have been playing with Android and there is no practical way to code Android on a Chromebook.

So I had been eyeing new laptops for a while. Final showdown was between Dell XPS 13 and Surface Pro 4 (Affiliate Links).  The specs were i5, 256GB, 8GB. These specs are probably bare minimum for a PC. Both, Dell & Surface Pro 4, with these specs were priced around $1300. I was leaning towards Dell XPS 13 as it is a regular laptop. But then I found Surface Pro 4 with Type Cover at Target for almost $400 cheaper. It became hard to justify spending extra $400.

So I purchased Surface Pro 4. So far I am liking it. I really love the size and the screen. Surface Pen & OneNote are really great; I didn’t think I would care about them, but now I am a fan.

Programming Performance

Performance is not bad at all. I am able to open two Android Studio sessions, Android emulator, Chrome with several tabs, Cygwin windows, and Task Monitor. Also I have, Dropbox, OneDrive sync, Google Hangouts, Windows Defender running in background. At this point, I am using almost all 8GB of RAM. Music or videos playing in Chrome might stutter during compilation. But there is no slow down in Android Studio. CPU is usually not even more than at 10% until compilation. Of course, during compilation CPU is 100% or close to it.

I haven’t tried any other IDE yet but I am going to test Netbeans and PHP Ed soon.

I use Sublime mostly these, it runs great on Surface Pro.

Photography Performance

For photography, I use Lightroom. It loads fast with no issues. One thing though it may take half a second or so before a new photo is fully rendered. My five years old i7, 8GB laptop with SSD takes the same amount of time to render each photo. I was hoping that Surface Pro 4 would be faster but it is not.

Also photos appear a bit too small for me in Lightroom with default panels around it. I can make photos bigger by hiding panels and then I can easily work on them using keyboard shortcuts.

Battery Life

Battery life estimates are usually around 3-5 hours when I am working on Android. I have been charging it at night and then using it throughout day like I would normally use it on weekends or in evenings. So far, I haven’t gotten close to battery dying on me.

If this was my main laptop at work, then I will be carrying charger with me.

Type Cover

Type Cover keyboard is not bad at all. In fact, I really like it. When resting my hands on it, it feels like that I am bending it but if it breaks, I can replace it easily.


Right now, my biggest issue is that I cannot use it in my lap easily. It is not impossible but it is not comfortable. Also when in bed or on uneven surface, it is really hard to move around. You almost always need to use both hands to move it, versus one finger for laptop. When working on it in bed, I am using lap desk.

Lastly, I was hoping to read books on it is a tablet too but I think it is just too heavy to hold in your hand for more than a few minutes. I will stick with Kindle for book.



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