February 15, 2019

Silly Surface

At the end of 2015, I bought a Surface Pro 4 16GB with a 512GB hard drive (on release date) so I could do my digital art and use it for coding as well. I used it to make several pieces, entirely drawn on the Surface, right from initial sketch to completion.

As an artist, the pen took a bit of getting used to compared to my Wacom Intuos tablet, where there was a bit of a gap between where I drew and where the pen was on the screen. It’s very minimal, but I guess it’s something you’d notice going from the Wacom to the Surface. I got used to it though and found it to be pretty productive. It could handle anything I threw at it, from running several virtual machines for my web development and working in Photoshop at the same time. I LOVED it ^_^ Ultra portable, it went with me to meetups, conferences, work – wherever.

  • Turn the Page

    One of the pieces entirely drawn on the Surface.

  • Conservatory

    This was the first big piece I did on my Surface Pro 4, from sketch to finish.

Farewell Surface #1

So, 2018, I pulled my Surface out of my backpack and noticed the screen was popping out slightly. It was out of warranty at this point and I was pretty sad. I contacted Microsoft Support and they said that it was a known fault with the battery in some of the Surface Pro 4 models and that they would be replacing my device. Here’s a before and after, taken about 1 month apart.

  • April 2018

    Look at that, it’s nice and flat. (This was me showing someone what ports were on it at a meetup XP).

  • May 2018

    At first I noticed some discolouration on the screen and thought it was just the device aging. And then noticed this. Pretty sure the Surface isn’t supposed to have a curved screen.

What I didn’t realise, was that I was apparently carrying around a potentially explosive device in my backpack (wut) XD True to their word, Microsoft sent me a replacement device and a “containment unit” for my broken Surface Pro 4. Seeing a package on your doorstep that reads “large metal bucket” is very odd. Even better, was reaching into a box of styrofoam to pull out a giant empty metal bucket XD I had NEVER LAUGHED SO HARD. Literally rolling around the floor.

  • Farewell stickers, I still miss you. You can see the lid of the bucket in the background (I really wasn’t kidding).

  • It actually had explosive stickers to put onto the box (OMG) o_o

I had my replacement Surface and was all up and running again. I did notice a bit of screen flickering, but it wasn’t absolutely terrible. I was happy as usual, travelling around with it to work, meetups and whatnot. Stickers were being thrown at it so it had even more than before! It’s apparently a nerd thing. Unless you don’t like stickers.

Farewell Surface #2

Fast forward to February 2019. One afternoon, I left my parents house and my Surface wouldn’t switch on. That was a bit odd, but I went home and figured maybe the battery was flat. Got home, plugged it in and left it for a bit. Nope, it still wouldn’t switch on. At this point I was pretty frantic, because there was a bit of data on there that I’d been working on for the last few days and I wanted it. But you know, you can’t get into the hard drive of the Surface if it won’t switch on.

Took it into a local retailer to test if it was my power cable. Stood there for a bit letting it charge using one of their cables and then tested switching it on again. Nope. Coincidentally, they actually had a Microsoft Surface Rep in the store that day, so he took a look as well. He seemed pretty confused as to why it wasn’t working and suggested I contact support. Got home and plugged it in again and for some unknown reason, it switched on. I immediately transferred the data I needed off of it and used it for another few hours. Next day, same problem, it wouldn’t switch on. It didn’t switch back on again after that at all, over the weekend.

Turns out that Surface #2 was actually still within warranty. Although the warranty listed on my Microsoft account still had the serial for Surface #1. This caused some annoyance for me with support, but they put through a service request to pick up Surface #2. Courier picked it up and I bid farewell to my stickers again.

  • Work Setup

    I don’t even use the monitors in the background, just the Surface. Being able to work from the library is awesome too!

  • The Stickers

    All these adorable Wapuu stickers ;_; I took a bunch of pictures so at least I have a record of them.

One week later. My old surface….resurfaced. It was delivered back to me. Wut. I called Microsoft Support and they were also very confused. Turns out, that the service request had the wrong serial number on it, because the warranty and actual device I had were different (yes, I did stress this in the original phone call where the request was placed). So I imagine the service centre had no idea what to do with it and just sent it back.

Support cancelled that ticket and began a new one, with the correct serial number this time. At this point I had been without a working Surface for about 2 weeks and was using an old Asus laptop that weighs about half a house, carting that between work and home. Definitely not ideal. They picked up my old Surface (again) on Tuesday, which was awesome. It reached the service centre on Wednesday and they shipped me a replacement on Thursday, which I got today; Friday.

Surface #3

Third time lucky right? Considering I’m onto my third device now, I guess I’m a bit skeptical? But hey, let’s get it set up. Windows runs a bunch of updates (and then some more). I noticed a buzzing noise coming from what appears to be the fan. Considering I’ve been through 2 devices already, they didn’t sound like that. Tilting the device makes it even louder…It’s like the fan isn’t set in there correctly, or something is stuck in it.

Googling the problem It seems to be a known issue with some of them. Ah, refurbished units. Guess we’ll see what happens from here – I’ve sent an email to support about it. The device is still sitting next to me, buzzing away.

I’m not sure what to think now. I really love the Surface Pro. It’s a great machine; fast, lightweight and does everything I could ever need or want. But with Surface #1 turning into a potential explosive, Surface #2 utterly failing within a year and then receiving seemingly buggy Surface #3, I’m not sure I can trust these devices. It’s sad, because I’ve recommended them to so many and I still believe they’re good machines. When they actually work.