In October 2015 I made one of the biggest financial purchases of my life, I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (SP4). This machine is a thing of beauty. A premium, high quality product, designed for the creative professional. I went for a high spec model too, 16GB RAM, intel core i7 (6th gen) with 256GB SSD. It is powerful yet incredibly portable and versatile as it is essentially the size of a tablet.
I’ll admit it, the main reason I bought an SP4 wasn’t the versatility or the available power or particularly the portability, it was one app: StaffPad. This incredible, revolutionary music notation app just blew my mind. Using the surface pen you can write music notation directly onto your screen and the result will be converted into standard music notation print. When composing from scratch nothing could be more naturally flowing and creatively stimulating.
Once I got over the magic of StaffPad I turned my attention to other pieces of software I might need for my workflow. The Avid duo of Pro Tools and Sibelius was a must. I had seen previously that Pro Tools runs in to some problems with the SP4 but either I have been incredibly lucky or Avid has, for once, resolved some bugs as I haven’t come across any of the problems that were mentioned here. Both Pro Tools and Sibelius run perfectly on my system with the added functionality of the touch screen and pen coming in handy in certain situations, not so much in others. The one problem I have encountered is with plug-in software. This is less down to the SP4 per se and more to do with the resolution of the screen. The 12.3″ PixelSense Display is a beauty to behold but the pixel density (267 PPI) becomes an issue with some software, the buttons resize and whatever effect I may have been trying to use becomes completely unusable.
The SP4 i7 16GB RAM really can handle anything you throw at it and I would recommend it in a heart beat. The surface pen may seem gimmicky to some but having used StaffPad for the past year I really couldn’t live without it. It is already a pleasure to use with almost any piece of software and just as soon as the others raise their game to match the surface’s capabilities, it won’t have any rival. Except the Surface Book of course, and soon the Surface Studio… but that’s for another time.