F*ck it, I’m getting Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4! I have been using a late 2008 15” MacBook Pro for graphic design work. It’s still working but after almost a decade of service, it’s showing signs of aging. Sadly, what I’m seeing in Apple’s line is not really convincing. So I’m going back to Windows.
REASONS FOR BUYING MICROSOFT’S SURFACE PRO
As I’ve mentioned in my past article, like most people in my generation, I’m an ex-Windows user. So this shift in OS is not really the end of the world. Besides, there’s plenty to like about Windows 10 on a Surface.
I know people have an attention span of a mayfly so here's the TL; DR version of my reasons why I would buy Microsoft's Surface Pro vs Apple's MacBook Pro with Touchbar:
The Surface Pro Pen tops my list of the biggest reason to ditch my Mac and Cintiq for that matter! To get an on-screen digitizer on a Mac you would have to buy a Wacom Cintiq, then connect it to your Mac with a bunch of cables. Not a very elegant solution, not to mention double damage—you pay an arm and a leg and a tail for a MacBook Pro, then pawn the wife and kids to buy a Cintiq.
The alternative is, The Surface! This device is like MacBook Pro and Wacom Cintiq rolled into one. Not to mention that the original Surface Pro 4 comes with the pen, while the 2017 Surface Pro 4 Pen costs $99 with its increased pressure sensitivity and tilt function. A hundred bucks I think is a small price to pay compared to the Wacom alternative.
SURFACE TOUCH INTERFACE
Microsoft’s Surface Pro has a touch interface. Period. The 2016 MacBook Pro has a touchbar. For a company that perfected the touchscreen, that’s very disappointing. And as if to rub salt on an already festering wound, Microsoft released The Surface Studio in the same time period—graphic designers have dreamt of such a machine for years!
I've been lusting and dreaming of a touch and gesture-based user interface ever since I saw the movie Minority Report back in 2002. Then Westworld comes up with their supercomputers to control hosts--humanoid robots... I'd say the future is here and The Surface Pro is as close to that futuristic fantasy as we could get, at least for now.
Hand-eye coordination is one the primary skills of creative people like graphic designers. A machine that allows graphic designers to manipulate visuals directly on screen using their fingertips is much preferable and more natural than a mouse, trackpad, or a non-Cintiq Wacom tablet.
RELATED STORY: Should Graphic Designers Ditch Their MacBook Pros For Microsoft's Surface Pro or Surface Book?
SURFACE PRO FORM FACTOR
The Surface Pro is a computer in tablet form. So it has the full capability of a laptop but without the bulk. I used to marvel at how thin, light, portable, and beautiful a unibody MBP but I now look at a laptop’s traditional clamshell design with horror. This traditional form factor now looks like an ancient relic compared to the Surface Pro’s hybrid form factor.
With the Surface Pro, you don’t have to have a Cintiq snaking wires everywhere. All you need as a graphic designer is in that small machine. The Surface Pro simply lessens the objects that you have to worry about and it makes for a cleaner more convenient work experience.
MAC IS NOT FOR CREATIVES ANYMORE
As a graphic designer, I think that Apple stopped focusing on the creative professional. They once catered to us but now they seem more intent in high-end mass-produced tech. Whoever thought that a touchbar is what graphic designers and other creative professionals need is severely misguided or mentally retarded.
The era where an Apple computer was reserved for creative professionals is gone. Just about anyone including my grandpa has a Mac. With that I predict that Apple’s devices would be more and more designed and intended for non-techie and non-creative professional use.
SELLING OLD TECH
A minor reason that convinced me: with the purchase of the Surface Pro, I would be able to sell my Wacoms and my old laptop before they officially become ancient tech. While everybody is clamoring for Macs and while there’s still enough people who haven't realized the impending extinction of the clamshell form factor; I believe that there’s an opportunity to make money out of these aging equipment. There are still people who would buy these things second hand. Better have a bit of cash than a hi-tech brick.
Microsoft's Surface Pro is a legitimate challenge for Apple. Microsoft understood the needs of graphic designers and creative professionals. We want a digitizer pen, check! We want touch, check! We want a convenient form factor, check! We want sexy design, check!
Though some people groan at the absence of USB-C on the Surface Pro, I would argue that for a graphic designer, at the time being, USB-C is not an issue. Most of my equipment is still using USB-A. Buying dongles or replacing equipment is not a very compelling proposition. I'm not a consumer who just want a shiny new toy. I'm an entrepreneur who wants to squeeze as much life out of my tools—acquiring the best possible tool for the budget and making money is the goal, not spending money for shiny new tech.