I’ve been working away configuring a numeric keypad to have most of my Illustrator shortcuts crammed into it. I can tell it’s going to be really great for working in compact spaces when I get used to it. And I can do quick doodles without it; on the way to breakfast this morning, Nick joked that if his dad was a My Little Pony, his cutie mark would be a piece of Wonder Bread, and I whipped the Surface out of my bag and drew that while we were waiting in line outside Morsel.
I can carry Illustrator in a sketchbook-sized package, and use it in about the same amount of space I’d need to draw in one. That’s pretty cool!
But I’ve discovered a major fly in the ointment. After breakfast, I left it sitting in my bag, mostly charged. Then I went for a walk in the park, during which I wrote a first draft of a Parallax script in my phone. After about five hours, I took the Surface out, with the intent of sitting in a cafe and writing on its bigger screen.
I think it was around 80% at worst when I put it away for breakfast. After sitting in my bag doing nothing, supposedly hibernating, it was down to 30% power. 20% after I sat at home googling “surface pro 4 battery drain”. Which… has a lot of hits.
I can’t use it if it’s gonna be burning through power like this. The whole idea is that I have Illustrator ready to go within seconds at any moment, without having to carry the bulk of a laptop and a Wacom tablet. I don’t have room in my laptop bag for its bulky power brick, or the desire to constantly seek outlets. If I can’t get it to stop doing this, I think it’s getting returned. I really feel like a super-portable device I spent $ 1600 on should be managing its battery better; I can put my Air in my bag and feel confident it’ll have the same charge when I take it out again in an hour or three.
I’ve tried tweaking it’s advanced power settings, telling it to hibernate when I push the “sleep” button. I’d told it to do that on “lid close” and pushing the “power” button, maybe the button next to the volume buttons is actually “sleep”? We shall see. Supposedly there was an update back in February that claimed to fix this; mine is up to date and it’s still doing this. I’ve had it suggested to set it to power down completely when I hit the button and ugh no, I don’t want to have to wait a few minutes for it to boot every time I want to draw, the whole point is that I can pull it out of my bag and be drawing in Illustrator in like thirty seconds.
I really don’t want to return this Surface. I’ve spent a couple days configuring it. I’m really getting to like it a lot; it feels like it could be a great way to make drawing a lot more casual and fun. But if it’s going to die a few hours after I unplug it, even if it’s been completely dormant, it’s useless to me.
Unless I can get this fixed, my rating of this thing has dropped to like zero out of ten. Gorgeous device, great form factor, battery life is the purest utter trash.