With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft delivered a revolutionary piece of hardware. The narrative we’ve all read since Microsoft announced its successor, the Surface Pro 4, is all about “evolution” and shoring up the issues that were present with the Surface Pro 3. All of that is true.
Problem is, there’s so much more to the Surface Pro 4 than what has been said. Yes, most of the changes are inside. Microsoft eliminated a fan in the case of the Surface Pro 4 with Intel Core M3 processor. The display is stunning, the entire device is thinner and lighter than any previous Surface. The Intel Core i7 and Intel Core i5 versions are very fast. Microsoft has added more options to the Surface Pro 4’s online order utility than we’ve ever seen.
If you pre-ordered a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 earlier this month, you should have received the device by now. Whether you’re a new-comer or owned a Surface before, here are some Surface Pro 4 tips for getting the best out of your new device.
Activate Windows Hello
The Surface Pro 4 – really, every Surface – is a model for what is possible with its respective version of Windows. This is the first time that Microsoft has created and sold a device built specifically for its new Windows 10 operating system. Almost all the features included in Windows 10 work fine on older devices, but Windows Hello doesn’t. To login without your passcode or password requires a fingerprint sensor or just the right camera array.
The Surface Pro 4 comes with the required camera array, but doesn’t have the necessary software to use it at first. You need to manually update the firmware required to enable Windows Hello from the Update & Recovery area in the Settings app. Then go to the Sign In area within the Accounts area in the Settings app to enable it.
The Old Surface Pro Power Supply Works
One side effect of Microsoft only providing versions of the mid-range Surface Pro 4 to reviewers is that almost no one knew Microsoft had switched power cables. Anyone that purchases the Intel Core M3 version of the Surface Pro 4 can expect a tiny power brick. It’s small because this version of the device doesn’t require a lot of power. Also, it’s missing the full-size USB port that allowed users to charge their smartphones and Surface Pros at the same time.
Don’t worry, you can use your old Surface Pro Power Supply with the Surface Pro 4 and get the same experience. Microsoft sells the Power Supply for Surface Pro 4 with the USB port in its online store for $79.99
Use the Surface Pen As a Shortcut
The refreshed Surface Pen doubles almost doubles as a wireless remote for your device. Click the pen top once and it’ll open Microsoft’s OneNote application. Hold the pen top down and you’ll get access to Cortana. Click the pen top twice to take a screenshot and send it to OneNote.
Your Old Surface Pro 3 Type Cover Works Fine
Make no mistake, the Surface Pro 4’s Type Cover is the best the company has ever produced. It’s more rigid when compared to old covers. Island style keys and more key travel improve the typing experience greatly. Also, there’s a wider glass trackpad that your finger just glides across. Unfortunately, it’s still a $129.99 upgrade at least.
If you have an old Surface Pro 3 Type Cover, don’t throw it away. Instead, use it with your new Surface Pro 4. For new comers, the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover is on sale for around $90 at Amazon.
Don’t Bother With the Volume Buttons When the Keyboard is Open
Microsoft moved the keyboard buttons on the Surface Pro 4. Now, they’re on the top of the device, making them pretty uncomfortable to press if you’re using the device in landscape mode.
Don’t bother trying to use them when you’re outside of Tablet Mode and have the new Surface Pro 4 Type Cover attached. The new Type Cover has dedicated buttons for raising and lowering the volume just above its main keys. Use those buttons instead, you’ll thank yourself later.
Don’t Expect Big Battery Gains, Create Your Own
Intel’s Skylake processors are better for battery life. Most assume that this means the Surface Pro 4 can last even longer than its predecessors. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case. Microsoft says that users can expect 9 hours of video playback, the same as previous generation devices.
You see, the new display included in the Surface Pro 4 requires a lot of power. On its own, the Surface Pro 4 will attempt to regulate its battery usage by adjusting your screen brightness. You can make adjustments manually. Tap or click on the battery icon in the Taskbar along the bottom of your screen. This area has controls for screen brightness and a toggle for Battery Saver, which cuts display brightness and background activity to conserve battery life.
Setup Tablet Mode to Turn On Automatically
For some reason, Microsoft doesn’t configure Windows 10’s Tablet Mode to turn on and off when it detects a keyboard. Instead, the company leaves the decision to enable the feature to you. Go to the Settings app and tap or click on System. Then look for the Tablet Mode item in the menu on the left.
From here you can have the device prompt you to switch modes or automatically make the switch.
Open the Surface App to Adjust Pen Pressure And More
Every Surface Pro 4 comes with a Surface Pen. This pen allows users to take notes, draw and navigate the operating system. To test and adjust the sensitivity of your Surface Pen, open the Surface app that’s installed on your device.
You Have To Enable Cortana
Cortana is Microsoft’s digital personal assistant. She’s available on Android and coming to iPhone pretty soon. She’s embedded in Windows Phone and will come to Xbox One early next year. Cortana is everywhere and can set reminders, perform searches, remind you of appointments, manage your travel and identify the latest music.
Hold the button down on the Surface Pro 4’s Surface Pen and Cortana springs to life, but before that can happen you need to turn her on from the search box in the Taskbar. Tap or click anywhere in that search box to get the setup going. Remember to configure Cortana to listen to your verbal commands too if you don’t want to carry around the Surface Pen all the time.
Good luck with your Surface Pro 4.