Thursday, May 02, 2024

Surface Pro 9 Review

Please note that the following post contains affiliate links.  If you click on the links, I may earn a small commission from your order at no cost to yourself.

I've been using the Surface Pro 9 for over a week now, although the type cover and pen combo I ordered only just came. After over a week, I feel like I have enough experience with the computer to write up a quick review.

I've used a Surface before, so a lot of it is familiar, and I am finding I like it better than the experience of working on the Lenovo.  It ranges from small things, such as liking the feel of the keyboard better, to preferring the smaller size of the screen (the Lenovo was a much bigger laptop than what I'm used to).  I did order a different kind of case than I used to have.  This case is clear to show the blue of the Surface, with a blue bumper around the edges.  (I feel very insecure about the safety of the Surface without a case, so I've gotten cases for all of my Surfaces.)

One of the things I've had to adjust to is using Windows 11, since I had never upgraded my Lenovo from 10.  I do have 11 on my Surface Go, but since I was using it much differently, I dealt with the differences in the operating systems much less.

One major difference is because I don't keep my writing business files on the Surface Go, so I wasn't familiar with the changes in the file directory.  The file directory in Windows 11 is designed to make you use OneDrive.  The OneDrive documents folder is readily available in Windows Explorer, and meanwhile you have to dig through the directory to find a documents folder that won't automatically sync to OneDrive.  Of course they're doing this to try to get you to go over the 5GB limit for the free OneDrive account, so that you'll buy more storage space in OneDrive.  I'm cheap though, so I did my digging and found the non-synced documents folder, and divvied my documents up between "important enough to store in the cloud" and "I don't use this often so I'll just back it up on flash drive and call it good."

I'm also still keeping my active writing projects in DropBox, with backups on OneDrive.  I like the redundancy of having files stored in two different clouds, just in case something fails.

As for the computer itself, here is a quick rundown:

What I love about the Surface Pro 9:

1) The type cover:

Okay, I'm a writer, so the keyboard will always be one of the top things I look at.  I love any computer that gives me a good, tactile typing experience.  I want clicky keys!  The Surface type cover is nice and clicky, despite the button design.  The Lenovo wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as the Surface type cover, in this respect.  I also really like the fact that with the type cover in the uppermost position has a comfortable slant to the keyboard and a little bit of a bounce when you type.

(Amusingly, I ordered the type pad online, so I did go into a local computer store over the weekend to type on it and make sure I was going to like it.  I assumed I would because I liked my old Surface's type pad, but it was nice to type on it and make sure.  I discovered the perfect way to test a keyboard is by using the browser to go to a typing speed test page.  Why have I never thought of that before?)

I also love that I can replace the keyboard individually if needed.  This is a big deal for me because as a writer, I tend to kill keyboards before any other part of the computer.  I have old computers and keyboards with significant wear to the keys, even to the point of creating holes.  So a keyboard that is completely separate from the computer and easily replaceable is a big advantage for me.

2) The screen:

The Surface really has a great screen.  While I don't love the reflection on a glossy screen, I love the colors and clarity of the Surface screen.  It way outpaces my Lenovo, which was matte to minimize reflection, but had a dim quality, especially when I tried to turn the screen down to conserve battery.  The Surface screen can get considerably lighter and darker than the Lenovo, which is great for working in a variety of lighting.

3) The price:

Did I mention I'm cheap?  I really like that the Surface Pro 9, being an older model, was super affordable.  I don't need the latest tech or the biggest available storage.  I just want something I can write on.  The price varies a little up and down, but seems to be right around $800, depending on the day.  Or, if you care more about speed than I do, there's another Surface Pro 9 for a couple hundred bucks more with a faster processor and twice the RAM.

4) The color:

I'm basically a sucker for anything blue, so of course I got the blue Surface Pro 9, the matching blue type cover and mouse, and a case with blue accents.

What I don't love about the Surface Pro 9:

1) Putting it on my lap

For most things, I love the easel design of the Surface and the 2-in-1 ability to take the keyboard on or off (or to replace it if you tend to destroy keyboards, like I do).  For putting it on your lap, though, the easel design kinda sucks.  Your lap has to be level or the top-heavy screen topples the computer over, and you have to have the easel on your legs.

I used to use a lap desk for this exact reason.  I no longer have that lap desk, as I got rid of it in a fit of Kondo-ing my condo, so I ordered a new one that should actually give me a little more depth than the old one did, perfect for those space-taking easel-and-type-pad combos.

2) The storage space

The Surface also has half the storage space of my old Lenovo, but that's partly because I got a slightly older model Surface to save money.  Granted, I could have gotten a terabyte of storage if I had gotten another Lenovo, so regular laptops probably still have better storage than even the newer Surfaces, but that actually wasn't the most important thing to me.  The only thing I'd need that much space for would be pictures, and I already have a terabyte of picture storage through iCloud.

The Big Picture

All in all, I'm really pleased with my decision to get a Surface this time around, instead of another traditional laptop.  There are things I don't love as much, but they're not dealbreaking things, and they are definitely outweighed by the things I do love.  When it comes down to it, I only got the Lenovo last time because I was in a pinch and needed a computer right away for NaNoWriMo (it was 2020 and we had to host all our write-ins online, and my old Surface was overheating when I tried to use Zoom).  If I'd had more time to choose a computer and more funds with which to buy it, I almost certainly would have gotten another Surface, as I remember looking at them and wishing I could get one.

So I'm happy with my purchase, and looking forward to using my new writing machine!

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