Getting started with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 notebook-like tablet can be a bit confusing at first. Collectively, we’re all used to notebooks and tablets being two different devices, with their own features and own ways of doing things. Surface Pro 4 tips for new adopters can help with some of that confusion.
Here’s some quick tips for new Surface Pro 4 owners. They’ll help you understand how Windows 10 makes moving from notebook to tablet modes easy. They’ll also help you decide which accessories and add-ons you should plan to purchase for your new Windows 2-in-1.
Gotta Be Mobile described the Surface Pro 4 as the best Windows 2-in-1 available last year. It is, but that’s only after you load it with software updates designed to fix bugs and introduce new features.
During the setup, be sure to provide your Surface Pro 4 with Wi-Fi so that it can download any of the immediate software updates that it needs. After the setup is done, go to the Settings app, Update & Security and manually check for more updates.
The Surface Pro 4 can and will download updates automatically, but it’s better to get them as soon as possible. Software and firmware updates fixed a ton of early issues, including display driver failure, lock-ups and problematic app upgrades.
Microsoft made some small mistakes with the Surface Pro 3, despite its status as beloved device. The company bet that users would want a detachable fabric loop to hold their included Surface Pen. There’s no telling how many people lost their Surface Pen by using these loops. Certainly, they weren’t a great idea.
The Surface Pro 4 leaves the loop behind for a magnetic strip that runs the length of the Surface Pro 4’s left edge. Some have said that this magnet isn’t good enough. They think the Surface Pen could fall off in a bag. A year of personal use have confirmed my theory that this worry isn’t based on reality. The only time that I’ve misplaced the Surface Pen is when I didn’t attach it to the device itself. Stick your Surface Pen to the Surface Pro 4. It’ll be fine.
Microsoft promises year-long battery life for the Surface Pen, but your results will vary. Keeping the pen clipped to your pants or a shirt seems to have a big impact on how long the AAAA battery lasts inside. If you’re heavily dependent on the Surface Pen for productivity — like you take notes with it in lectures and classes — be sure to have a spare battery in case yours dies at the worst time possible.
Forget having three separate devices, the Surface Pro 4 could be your notebook, desktop and tablet. Switching between notebook and tablet is pretty easy, just remove the Type Cover. Getting a great desktop experience requires some extra work, I’d say.
If you’re into large displays and have one already, consider purchasing the Surface Dock. The dock allows you to connect a few USB devices, Ethernet and a display with just a single cable. It’s perfect for making your Surface Pro 4 into a desktop PC.
If you’re comfortable with the Surface Pro 4’s built-in screen, definitely consider ordering a tablet stand to give you a little more flexibility at your desk. The Surface Dock is $199 from the Microsoft Store. Amazon has the dock for $124.99, and it stocks a ton of different tablet stands to let you get a better angle for your Surface. To be clear, the built-in kickstand is just fine, but height adjustments make a separate tablet stand at your desk necessary.
One of the big feature additions for the Surface Pro 4 is its built-in support for Windows Hello. It allows users to ditch their password for a passcode and facial recognition software. The passcode is in the rare case that Windows Hello fails to recognize you. Hit the power button and Windows Hello unlocks your device immediately — provided that it can see you. If it can’t, it’ll stay locked.
Note that you’ll need to install the latest software and firmware updates for your Surface Pro 4 to get this feature running.
Upgrading to the Surface Pro 4 from the Surface Pro 3? The Surface Pro Type Cover that you already own will work fine. That being said, you should unload that old keyboard and upgrade to the latest Surface Pro Type Cover.
The new Surface Pro Type Cover has island-style keys, with spaces between so that it’s easier to type. Each key is covered in a soft touch plastic that feels comfortable below your fingertips. What’s more, the cover’s trackpad is more glass than it is plastic. The trackpad is also bigger than the trackpad in the older Surface Pro Type Cover.
Definitely invest in the new Surface Type Cover if you have the money to spare. It’s better than the earlier versions. $129 isn’t a lot to spend for a significantly improved input experience. Microsoft also makes a $159.99 version of the Surface Type Cover made of a soft Alcantara material.
Windows 10, Microsoft’s latest operating system, still has two very distinct user experiences. That much hasn’t changed. The difference between it and Windows 8 is in how it stitches these two experiences together. Windows 8.1 kept them mostly separate. Windows 10 binds them together.
The Surface Pro 4 is one of the Windows 2-in-1s that can automatically switch in and out of Tablet Mode when a keyboard is attached. For the best experience, turn this automatic switching on in the Settings app under System. Look for the setting area labeled Tablet Mode.
Admittedly, not a lot of people are big on cases. That makes sense, who really wants to ruin the device they’ve spent a lot of money on with a thick, unattractive shell. The Surface Pro 4 is durable, but it needs some kind of protection.
If you’re determined to not put your device in a case, consider a skin to cover the metal back and sides of the Surface Pro 4. Toast makes a great real-wood skin to protect from scratches and kicks.
This is less a tip and more wise buying advice. In the event that you lose your Surface Pen, pick up an extra to keep around. It doesn’t matter whether you purchase the Surface Pen for $49.99 or the newer Surface Pen for $59.99, they’ll both work just fine. Note that you won’t get the 1024 different levels of sensitivity with the cheaper Surface Pen. Also, the older model doesn’t attach well to the Surface Pro 4.
Once you’ve got everything running. Look for the Surface app in your list of installed apps. In that app you can adjust the Surface Pen’s sensitivity and decide what you’d like its button to do when you click on it. By default, it’s configured for OneNote, but you can add screenshots and reminders. It can also launch other Windows Store apps or programs.
Download these essential apps to get you going.
Note that versions of Microsoft OneNote and Drawboard PDF are available on your device already. Go to Microsoft’s Office website to start a month-long free trial of Microsoft Office 365. You’ll need a subscription to take advantage of the Office apps available in the Windows Store since the Surface Pro 4’s screen is bigger than 10.1-inches. Don’t forget to install the programs that you liked from your old device. Remember, the Surface Pro 4 can install apps from websites and from the Windows Store.
Once you’ve finished all of your updates, don’t forget to configure your Surface Pro 4’s device tracking. This option lets you track the device from Microsoft’s website in the event that’s it’s ever lost or stolen. To be clear, the Surface doesn’t have built-in GPS, but uses internet connections for tracking. This information is only available to you, Microsoft says.
On your Surface Pro 4, Ink WorkSpace is accessible from the pen icon to the left of the clock in the Taskbar.
Good luck with your new Surface Pro 4.