First off, thank you so much to RacktheJipper
for the sub extension. You are too sweet! <3
And I'm back from my vacation in France! Although I didn't use my Surface Pro on the trip nearly as much as I'd thought I would (silly me to think I'd have time), I think I have a fairly good feel for it, so I'll share how it's going for me.
Here's my setup. This is a first generation Surface Pro. The only big difference I could see between it and the second-gen is that the newer ones have improved battery life. Even so, mine claims it can go for four hours or so running Photoshop, although I never ran it down to see. It gets warm but not uncomfortably so. The case is not an official Surface case. I liked what Best Buy had but it was too expensive. I found a case for a little HP laptop that fit the Surface perfectly instead.
I wanted access to my keyboard shortcuts, so rather than getting the official Surface keyboard, I got one that I could use in any position. A full-size keyboard would be nice, of course, but I found it awkward to use on the couch/in my lap, and plus, some of them are a bit large for super portability. What I ended up with is a numeric keypad that I've remapped the keys using AutoHotkey for the shortcuts I would use most often. It's not perfect. I'd like a shift key but I haven't been able to get that to work yet, and also ctrl+alt+z doesn't register properly. But for most of what I need, it does the trick. The pen's button is magnetic, so it can be attached to where the power connects when you have the tablet off the cable. Something about the power connector is poorly designed, though; it's pretty much impossible to attach without looking and even when I am looking, I can have trouble.
As for actually painting, it does take some getting used to when I'm now so accustomed to using an Intuos, haha. The biggest issue I have with the Surface for painting is that the screen is rather small, only 10.6", compared to the Cintiq Companion's 13". I zoom in a bit more than I normally would to compensate, but it's not as comfortable to work on as my computer for really long stretches, so given the choice at home, I'll stick to my usual. The Surface is doable, though. My Lightning Returns contest entry
was done entirely on the Surface (other than some color tweaks at the end). I'd been hoping to finish another digital painting on it in France, but yeah, that didn't happen. ^^ My other main complaint is the calibration of the pen isn't perfect. I guess there's just no way to get it to be just like traditional art, since you're basically aiming the tip at a surface under the glass that you're drawing on. But the corners... Oh, the corners. The top left corner is especially awful, even after recalibrating the pen myself with a lot more than five points. But again, I guess it's just something you get used to, and it's probably more of a problem for line art than for painting. (Which is too bad, since I'm not great at doing digital line art and I was hoping that this would make inking feel more traditional for me.) One last thing that I wish I could do in Photoshop is pinch-to-zoom. I can pan with my finger (although sometimes it registers as a brush stroke), but I can't zoom. It's not a huge deal but it would make the workflow a little more convenient.
I haven't tried playing with a Cintiq Companion, so I can't directly compare my Surface Pro to it. I do think that the Cintiq's 13" screen would be a good happy medium between being sufficiently large to work on and still being portable. But it's also way more expensive. Esepcially since I have a first-gen Surface Pro, which is even less expensive than the current one. So it's a matter of what you can afford, for a certainty. For me, the Surface Pro is good enough for now, taking cost into account. I got mine for $500, and I think that's the normal price for the first-gens currently. They are getting hard to find, though, but there's still a significant price difference between the second-gens and the Cintiqs. If you're in the market for one of these, you'll have to make the tough call yourself. ^^