Surface Pro 4 & Logos - Initial Review

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Posts 391
Geo Philips | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Oct 27 2015 7:22 AM

Hi everyone,

I know a few commenters had asked me to write my thoughts on the new Surface Pro (SP) 4 and Logos. This is very much a review in progress and I intend to update it as I spend more time with the device.

I got the i5 with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD, yesterday. I installed Logos on it and allowed it to index overnight. I brought it to work today to test it on my train ride. So these are very much initial comments. Apologies in advance for the wall of text.

General Comments

Screen: The screen is excellent, no questions asked. This is in the running for the best screen on a mobile device (it beats the Retina Macbook in my opinion which I have seen and played with). Colors are very accurate with the only slight drawback being a slight bluish tinge to whites, a problem I have seen with other IPS screens. There have been reported issues with backlight bleeding but I have very minimal bleeding at the bottom which is not noticeable in use (this is again an IPS issue - if the bleeding is bad and the screen is not uniform when you have a full black background, replace it).

The resolution is also top-notch. Everything, from text to DSLR pictures in Lightroom are crisp and sharp. It is set to default to 200% scaling but I had no issues dropping it down to 150%. A positive benefit for Logos is that there is enough text to view in landscape mode with the default text size option that I did not feel the need to make the text size any smaller or switch to portrait for reading.

Type Cover: I have not used the earlier version so I cannot compare the new one with it. But the keys are definitely laptop-class, on par with my 2014 Macbook Air. The touchpad on the other hand is more temperamental. It feels great, with a glass surface but it is still a bit too small to use for scrolling all the time - The Microsoft (MS) apps scroll well with two-finger touch on the pad, but other apps are not so fond of it. I do not know if this is a driver issue that MS can fix. The worst offender is Chrome, which is both slow to scroll and inconsistent - sometimes it wont scroll at all though you are doing the gesture. I believe this has something to do with how the driver is communicating the friction of the fingers on the touchpad back to the application. Unfortunately, Logos does not fare much better. Scrolling can go from not scrolling at all to skipping multiple pages in one shot. I tried fiddling around with the settings for scroll in Windows settings but this did not seem to have much impact.

But the reason this is not a big issue for me is because I use the touchscreen to scroll, which is so natural and quick that I will have a hard time going back to using the touchpad. It probably is easier for me because I used a tablet everyday but I recommend that if you get the SP4, you just scroll using the screen and use the keyboard for typing and the touchpad for normal mouse functions like left-click and right-click. There are other useful gestures too such as a three finger swipe to switch between apps (Alt-Tab).

Pen: There is a reason the Pen comes in the box. It is the best way to select small targets (non touch-optimized apps) and select text for copying. The top button primarily serves to open One Note (single press), capture One Note screen clips (double press) or open Cortana (long press). You can change this to other actions if you are willing to download AutoHotKey and tinker with it. The bottom button serves as right-click, which is good in conjunction with text selection.

There definitely is many degrees of sensitivity (1024 spec) but I am not an artist so I cannot comment on this vis-a-vis other Windows styluses. But it definitely beats every iPad and Android stylus and I was able to draw everything from a thin wispy line to bold strokes in One Note intuitively, so take that as you may :) This has an unfortunate side effect in Logos (check the Highlighting section below).

Build Quality: This is a premium device and it feels like one. It is elegant to hold and to the touch - it is deceptively light in a tablet sleeve. It is still a bit too long and thick to comfortably hold in portrait for long periods of time as a tablet - but holding it in landscape is the way to go if you do want to use it as a normal tablet.

I prefer to use the kickstand - on the bed, table and on my lap. Its the same kickstand as SP3, it works well enough for typing on the train with the SP4 on my lap but its natural habitat might be a desk or an airline tray. The screen doesnt wobble when you type with it on the lap and it does not feel any different from a laptop most of the time, but every once in a while, you do sense the top-heaviness of the screen. I might get used to that though in the long run.

Logos Comments

Speed: This thing is fast. After indexing, Logos opens to the full home page in 10-12 seconds always. Its faster going to a blank screen or working offline. Let me put it this way: this beats the speed of a fresh Logos installation on a fresh Windows 10 install on my desktop (Sandy Bridge i5 with a 256 GB Crucial SSD.)

Searching is similarly fast. It is on average the same as my desktop Logos install. A search for Jesus NEAR "Son of Man" in my whole library took 2.5 seconds. Obviously, my library might not be as big as others but I don't think speed will be a concern for Logos users. I will add more details to this section later. If you want me to perform certain searches, let me know.

Scrolling: See comments above in Type Cover. Long and short of it is, use the touch screen to scroll, not the touchpad on the Type Cover.

Highlighting: So this is where I find an issue with the Pen and Logos. I was very excited to try the pen for highlighting and it works. So whats the issue? Well, like I mentioned earlier, the pen has various degrees of sensitivity. So if you press the pen down in Logos and get a word selected, you would naturally drag it to select the full verse or sentence. This works fine in most cases. However, often, I would lose the ability to select the next block of text or the selection altogether. I am pretty sure this is because I was loosening the grip on my pen as I went along and Logos (or the Windows API) interpreted this as the end of the selection action. Trying to keep a consistent pressure (aka pressing really hard) seemed to work better but this seems unnatural to me.

Hopefully, someone at Microsoft or even better, someone at Logos can take a look at this issue.

Touch Optimization: So yes, Logos is not touch optimized but you will not notice it most of the time because of the high-resolution and the high DPI scaling settings which makes things big enough to touch. Worst case scenario, the pen is present as a secondary touch input. The type cover works great as a keyboard and for normal mouse actions like clicking buttons, changing program settings or moving tabs, the touchpad on the type cover works decently as well.

Among the issues I found, one was that on the Home Screen (not in resources), you could not scroll using touch. it would always select text. Secondly, turning it from landscape to portrait with an active layout of multiple tabs is not a good experience - of course, that is not Logos' fault. Finally, highlighting is a key value of a device like this and I find the need to keep the highlighting tab open a slight waste of space. Perhaps a brush palette on the top like One Note (you could select the palette you wanted displayed) would be ideal!

Initial Conclusion

Is this the ultimate Logos machine? No its not. That is still a decent desktop with an ultrawide or multiple monitors. Plus, there are compromises to be had with this form factor. 

But if you already had a desktop, or were a student or missionary or someone who is always travelling, it is hard to see how you can beat this combination of power and portability. (That being said, if you wanted a pure laptop, I would also look at the Dell XPS 13. Not the Surface Book which I think needs another year to work out its quirks.)

What about the Macbook Air? Again, if you think Windows is poison or you dont like the form factor, the Air is hard to beat. But for me, as an owner of the Air, I prefer the SP4. The screen is a big factor in that but I also find Windows 10 to be a very pleasant operating system that mostly gets out of your way unless you need it for something. Secondly, the apps I prefer to use are better on Windows; this includes Logos, Lightroom, Office and Steam (many games are not available on the Mac).

Thanks and let me know what you want to see in terms of further updates. I will definitely do some search benchmarks. 

 

Posts 41
Ritchin Eapen Sen | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 7:31 AM

Thanks for your thoughts, Geo. Much appreciated. =)

Posts 2878
Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 7:57 AM

Thanks for your excellent review.  I am a Surface Pro fan.  Being so poor / cheap, I tend to run a few years behind the latest technology.  I used Surface Pro 2 happily for a couple of years.  Now with Surface Pro 4 coming out, I decided to upgrade to Surface Pro 3, because they are on sale to make room for the newer model.  It is fantastic.  Rund Logos like a dream.

But down the road a few years, I am sure I will be upgrading again.

Really enjoyed the review.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 391
Geo Philips | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 10:42 AM

Thanks Michael. 

Michael Childs:

Thanks for your excellent review.  I am a Surface Pro fan.  Being so poor / cheap, I tend to run a few years behind the latest technology.  I used Surface Pro 2 happily for a couple of years.  Now with Surface Pro 4 coming out, I decided to upgrade to Surface Pro 3, because they are on sale to make room for the newer model.  It is fantastic.  Rund Logos like a dream.

But down the road a few years, I am sure I will be upgrading again.

Really enjoyed the review.

Posts 68
Shane Lems | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 12:37 PM

Thanks for these comments!  I was just looking into a new computer/laptop, since my old 2011 model is starting to fade.  Does anyone else have comments on this to help me out? I know I need an SSD, which will help with speed.  Any comments would be helpful.  Thanks much!

Posts 602
Bill Anderson | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 12:43 PM

Geo, thanks for your review. I, too, am a Surface Pro fan having owned the previous three versions at one point. The SP is a wonderful solution if you want one convergence device (other than a phone) and can accept the trade-offs. Ultimately for me, I came to the conclusion that I wanted the best tool for the job. That meant getting a regular laptop and an iPad mini. The limitation of the SP as a tablet was that it was too big and heavy when all I wanted to do is read. The SP keyboard was too cramped when I needed to do a lot of typing (this applies to the previous SP keyboards; I've heard the new SP4 keyboard is much better). When I wanted to use the SP on a plane flight, some seat trays would not accommodate the SP kickstand. But I will say this: having a SP means that you no longer have to complain that you can't always have your personal books with you because you are running the full blown Logos desktop program.

Posts 68
Shane Lems | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 12:48 PM

Bill - if I may ask, what laptop did you get to run Logos on?  Thanks!

Posts 391
Geo Philips | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 12:51 PM

Thanks Bill.

I think what you cite are actual flaws with the device and I think those carry over to the SP4, apart from the keyboard in which the keys have actually been spaced out to be just like the Air and similar laptops.

I am in the reverse situation actually, I used to carry my tablet everyday on the train but found that I had so much time during my commute back and forth that I could get some actual study and sermon prep done. Secondly, I recently moved into a house which means that my desktop is in the basement.

For reading, I got a Kindle Paperwhite. The new Logos Send-To-Kindle feature is great, albeit with the loss of highlights in Logos.

Posts 391
Geo Philips | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 12:51 PM

Hi Shane,

What is your current laptop and what is your budget?

Shane Lems:

Bill - if I may ask, what laptop did you get to run Logos on?  Thanks!

Posts 68
Shane Lems | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 1:14 PM

Geo - appreciate the response.

I have an old Acer Aspire - 2011 - it's a DOG!  Since I'm a pastor, the church will cover a laptop, but I want to be a good steward.  I'm guessing they will tell me to stick around $800 or so? Give or take...

Posts 391
Geo Philips | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 1:21 PM

hmm thats a tough price point.

My two top Windows laptops right now (from what I read on review sites, and from a normal consumer perspective) is the Dell XPS 13 or the HP Spectre 360.

The XPS 13 non-touch has a regular price of about $1000, and the Spectre is probably more expensive but better value for money.

I would wait to see if there are some Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals on these two.

Also, to consider, the Surface Pro 3 which has some great deals going on now as Michael was alluding to. You would need to buy the type cover extra but if you are a Costco member, there are some great bundles on sale.

Posts 602
Bill Anderson | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 27 2015 9:11 PM

Shane Lems:

Bill - if I may ask, what laptop did you get to run Logos on?  Thanks!

Well, I didn't get a laptop to run Logos on it this time around! I got a Chromebook Pixel 2, which handles my laptop needs nicely and in a very elegant package. But for your budget Shane, you ought to be able to get a laptop that runs Logos acceptably. Not top tier, though. I'd check out the Lenovos. The Yoga 3 14" is a little over your budget at $885 on Amazon right now, and it has an i5, 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM.

Posts 68
Shane Lems | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 5:07 AM

Thanks again for the suggestions!  I'm thinking I'll keep an eye out for one of the two you mention; even if they come down a little, it should be a "go."  Blessings!

Posts 68
Shane Lems | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 5:09 AM

Thanks Bill!  Appreciate the comments!

Posts 391
Geo Philips | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 6:17 AM

Just a quick update on a couple of issues.

1) Highlighting with pen: Using the Surface app, I increased the pen sensitivity to about 7 from its default low value. Now highlighting works much better to the point that I am rarely having to redo selections. I am not sure what impact this has on drawing but it is a fix if you find the same issue I had.

2) Battery: I forgot to mention battery life. I am getting about 6 hours now (Logos, browsing, watching video but also installing apps and desktop programs). Once I am done with the initial flurry of activity, I am guessing this will settle into the 7-8 hr range, which is what most reviews are getting on web browsing benchmarks.

Posts 2170
Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 7:04 AM

Thanks for the review

Posts 2313
David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 10:19 AM

Shane Lems:

Geo - appreciate the response.

I have an old Acer Aspire - 2011 - it's a DOG!  Since I'm a pastor, the church will cover a laptop, but I want to be a good steward.  I'm guessing they will tell me to stick around $800 or so? Give or take...

Shane, I found myself in a similar situation (a church that wanted to stick to the $800 price point). I took the volunteer to lunch who handled our tech purchases and shared some posts from the forum about the way that SSD and discrete graphics GREATLY enhances the logos experience. (Plus the fact that the youth pastor had received a MacBook Pro the year before because he appealed that "its what all my peers use"). I was able to convince the church to get a refurbished Dell with specs that ran Logos well (this was in 2012 so we went with the Dell 15z) that was a few hundred dollars more than they originally planned.

Using a similar strategy, you may be able to make a case for an SP3 (one generation older) with the new type cover (which I hear is a huge improvement) that would be a usable device for several years and is still a good stewardship of the Lord's resources.

Making Disciples!  Logos Ecosystem = Logos8 on Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Win10), Android app on tablet, FSB on iPhone, [deprecated] Windows App, Proclaim, Faithlife.com, FaithlifeTV via Connect subscription.

Posts 251
Michael | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 2:14 PM

For the sake of a battery life I would recommend switching to a different browser.  Chrome is a resource hog and eats batteries for lunch.  Opera is also Chromium based.  So I'd recommend using either Firefox or Edge.

Glad the SP4 is working well for you.  I have a SP3 and it's practically made for using Logos.  The form factor is great and the 3:2 screen ratio is really useful.

Posts 68
Shane Lems | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 2:57 PM

Thanks, David - good points.  I think you're right - a few hundred dollars more in this case is justifiable, because it will honestly help studies and sermon writing.  I think your points will carry weight in my situation - without anyone being upset.

One more question for anyone: can you plug in an extra monitor to the surface pro?  I thought I read you couldn't; could be a deal breaker for some Logos users (such as myself!).

Thanks again,

shanw

Posts 507
Greg | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 28 2015 3:10 PM

Has anyone here gotten a Surface Book yet?

http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/devices/surface-book

I played around with one at the Microsoft Store the other day and it was really cool! The screen part was actually lighter than the Surface Pro 4 they had nearby.

I haven't owned a Windows laptop for years, but I may reconsider with this one.

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