Microsoft Surface Pro 4 — The New Must-Have For Musicians On The Go?

So Microsoft very recently release the new Surface Pro 4. Is this going to be a game changing piece of tech for musicians or just another addition to the many tablets we already know exist?

At first glance the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 might look more like a laptop than a tablet but make no mistake this multi-functioned tool is a tablet. Sporting a cover with a keyboard and trackpad, Microsoft have once again made big steps in an attempt to tempt creative working professionals to make the leap back to windows after the mass conversions to macs we’ve seen over the past few years.

That being said, what has the Surface Pro 4  really got?

When juxtaposed with an all-time favourite of travelling musicians — the Macbook Air, the Surface Pro 4 shows itself to be somewhat capable of holding it’s own in the spec department.


                                                    Surface Pro 4            Macbook Air 2015

Operating System                           Windows 10         Apple OS X El Capitan

Weight                                                   1.69 lb                  2.96 lb

Processor Name                              Intel Core m3        Intel Core i5 -5250U

RAM                                                        4 GB                    4 GB

Graphics Manufacturer                             Intel                      Intel

Screen Size                                           12.3 inches         13.3 inches

Native Resolution                                  2736 x 1824         1440 x 900

Storage Capacity (as Tested)                128 GB                   128 GB’


The Surface Pro 4 stands toe to toe with the Macbook Air in all aspects but screen size, that being said what it lacks in screen size it compensates for in resolution and weight.

The Surface Pro 4 is more than a full pound lighter than the Macbook Air, resolution wise it also stands head and shoulders above the Macbook Air. Is the new tool too for the travelling person working in any creative field? Let’s take a closer look.

In this demo we start to see how Microsoft has really optimised the Surface Pro 4 for the working musician. Through the use of an app called Staffpad musicians are able to quite literally write down their scores on a score sheet and have instant playback on their choice of instruments or ensembles.

The user interface looks simple enough as we watch the person demonstrating Staffpad glide seamlessly through function to function, but how seamless the experience really is and whether or not it will stand the test of time is yet to be seen. As an apple user I have yet to see apple come up with an equivalent app or function and shall be awaiting the iPad Pro with baited breath

Moving on the Surface Pro 4 has also made efforts to satisfy the needs of the recording musician on the road. The Surface Pro 4 is capable of running DAWs such as Ableton, Cubase and Protools.

When you couple that with the fact that it also has USB inputs which means you can connect an audio interface and record anywhere on the go that’s pretty cool.

When you remember however that the Surface Pro 4 is a tablet and not a laptop it goes from “pretty cool” to “pretty badass”

I couldn’t find a demonstration of someone doing this with a Surface Pro 4 but this is what it looks like with a Surface Pro 3.

Accessory wise what might make it or break it for many working professionals out there is the addition of the Surface Pen as you can see in the demonstration of the Staffpad. As an occasional user of a tablet myself I’ve often found myself stumbling around app getting frustrated with myself as I try to press the right buttons or type the right worse.

The Surface Pen helps one click with more precision as well as allows you to get into using a pseudo version of the more traditional pen and paper. Although prices have not been announced yet. It’s been said that the price of $899 you can get the Surface Pro 4 with the Surface Pen.

Although the Surface Pen for Surface Pro 3 was priced at a mere $49.99 it did not have an eraser at the end of it. Neither did it boast 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, nor could it attach magnetically to the side of the Surface Pro 4 when not in use. It also comes in a variety of colours and even has Cortana integration: you can activate Microsoft’s voice assistant by holding the button on the stylus.


It’s my suspicion that these added features make the new Surface Pen a make or break. People will either love it and fully integrate into their usage of the Surface Pro 4 or will hate it and abandon it completely.

In conclusion it looks like Microsoft has packed a mean punch in an attempt to take down the iPad Pro even before its release. We will just have to see if Apple can rise to the occasion to meet Microsoft’s challenge.

So now my fellow Apple devotees, have you been swayed to convert from your Macs and iPads? Or will you keep your faith and await the arrival of the iPad Pro. Let me know what you guys think as Apple and non Apple users on how you think the Surface Pro 4 affects its competitors and what would be your choice if you were to purchase your newest device for work and play while travelling!

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  • James Chong

    For me, all these tablet & laptop displays are just a wee bit too small to properly operate a DAW. With all the other gears that need to be prepped for an off-site recording, one might as well set up a workstation too! Been there, done that, but that’s just me. Back to the topic at hand, oddly as an all-time Windows user, I’d actually prefer to get an iPad for tablet computing. Windows’ new UI doesn’t appeal much.