Microsoft Store, Fashion Valley and Surface Pro 4

When I visited the Microsoft Store at Fashion Valley, San Diego, I reminded myself I wasn't going to purchase a Surface Pro yet (Pro 5 is allegedly coming this March) despite spending the last 6 months toying with the idea, and having recently bought a boxed copy of CorelDraw X8.

The Microsoft Store is on the upper level of the Fashion Valley mall and places Surface products and XBOX One offerings front and center. The staff that greeted me were friendly, but thankfully not aggressive. I'm not a fan of service staff that hover around you, so the conditions were ideal for me to pop in and ask questions.

Note: Apple fans can hoof down to the ground floor for an Apple Store, with the slightly creepy grinning Apple staff greeting you in their blinding blue shirts.

I approached M.H. (I don't want to give his name away) and asked about the Chinese New Year deals advertised. The Pro 4 already had a price cut at the Microsoft Store and at Best Buy because of the upcoming Surface Pro 5 this March, so I didn't expect any changes to the price on the Pro 4. I also asked about fairly basic questions regarding the i5 4 GB RAM / 128 GB HDD and 8 GB / 256 GB HDD models (which I already knew the answers to).

The Surface Pro 4 is a mature product so there were enough reviews and articles online about the well-known power, standby, sleep, and battery issues of Windows 10 on the tablet/hybrid, but I was curious how the salespeople were going to spin it.

Note: The HP Stream 8, which I bought in October, 2016, was a  horrible Windows tablet, but I had grown used to its limited functionality and even brought it on trips as a backup PC and writing tool. Although I've never used a Windows stylus, I was fully aware of the glaring limitations and problems associated with Windows 10 on a tablet.

I was doubly interested what the onsite Answer Desk staff would say about the infamous sleep issue of the Pro 4 and Windows 10. M.H. was bubbly and enthusiastic and gave a very familiar sycophantic spiel regarding my choice and the product. I liked the lanky and effusive salesman and asked him to give me a quote plus California tax of the Surface Pro 4 models I was interested in. While he hopped off to get the exact price, I moved over to the Dell Inspiron 13 hybrid and asked the yellow-shirted Answer Desk staff member about the passive stylus and its reliability.

Note: I was fingering a Linux LiveUSB of Fedora and Knoppix in my pocket in case I opted for an Dell Inspiron 13 2-in-1, which was my second option if I gave in to my inner demons.

The gentleman from the Answer Desk wasn't actually sure the Inspiron 13 came with a passive stylus (I was sure since I regularly visited the online Dell store). I moved on to questions about the Pro 4's power and battery flaw. He was surprisingly quite honest about it, and admitted that it's been lingering but he himself hadn't experienced it recently on his company-issued Surface Pro 4. He told me that if I decided on the Pro 4, I should immediately run updates manually. Answer Desk man offered to ask the other staff members for a passive stylus so I can test it on the Inspiron 13 on display.

M.H., however, called me over and gave me a quote on the i5 4 GB RAM / 128 GB HDD. When asked with the same technical questions regarding the firmware fix for power, M.H.'s answer was entertaining and somewhat exaggerated the battery life of his Intel m3-powered Surface Pro 4, while taking self-deprecating potshots at his company-issued Lumia 950. As per protocol, he reassured me repeatedly that if I encountered the Surface Pro 4's incredibly problematic power issues, I can return and have it replaced within the appropriate time allotted.

The youthful M.H. babbled on and mistook me for a Korean and considerably younger than 30, which was probably the reason why he gave me a very good deal on the Surface Pro 4 with the 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB HDD, while offering the same option to the Surface Book and the Pro 4 with higher specifications. We chatted for awhile and the gentleman's youth and directness (and his arguably tall stories about being a martial artist) impressed me, while his co-workers giggled at his sales tactics in the corner.

I ended up leaving with the Surface Pro 4 with the dark blue Surface Type Cover.

Note: I can't specify the price that M.H. gave me since I'm not sure it was entirely kosher, though I can say there are advantages to shopping at the Microsoft Store, rather than a third-party retailer. On a side note, I regularly encourage users here at Unsolicited But Offered not to purchase products with RAM lower than 8 GB, but I work mostly on Linux and FreeBSD machines, with my Macbook Air my primary work machine. My needs and my work, compared with gamers and mainstream users, make the Core i5 and 4 GB more than adequate for a personal hybrid. For one thing, I'm currently putting the Pro 4 through several tasks on CorelDraw X8 and it's performing just fine. I'll be writing future articles on the Pro 4 and using it with CorelDraw in the near future.


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