7 days with a Microsoft Surface – my extended review continues

Microsoft Surface 7 days in Microsoft Surface 7 days in[/caption] So I’m back from the BUILD conference and I had a chance to take the Surface for a little real world spin. As a result, I have a little more data to give you guys about the Surface when used in the real world. First of all I am writing this article on the Surface keyboard and it’s not too bad at all. One major caveat though. I am on an Alaska Air flight and I decided to try and write a post during the trip back to Pasadena. As you can see from the pictures below, my palms don’t have enough room to be comfortable when typing. [caption id="attachment_29468" align="alignnone" width="640"]Surface Lap flight tray Surface Lap flight tray[/caption] [caption id="attachment_29467" align="alignnone" width="640"]Surface Lap flight tray 2 Surface Lap flight tray 2[/caption] The problem here is when the kickstand is activated, the depth of the Surface is as long as the airline tray and it’s hard to type comfortably. As I said in previous post from BUILD, I have big hands. 🙂 Anyway, getting back to my experience with this device. I packed my MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, Canon camera, Portable Hard Drive, HP laptop and the Microsoft Surface on the trip with me. Unpacking and repacking my bags for the TSA was fun let me tell you. My plan was to see what role the Microsoft Surface would play in helping me do real work throughout the day and relax in my spare time.

At work during BUILD 2012

In my 48 hours at BUILD, the Surface was almost an afterthought. For work, long posts and articles, the MacBook Pro worked for me for a couple of reasons.
  • The 15 inch screen was just (obviously) bigger and I could do more work on there.
  • I couldn’t easily find a photo/image editor in Windows RT.
  • I only had IE as a browser choice.
  • I had no POP mail client available.
One of the biggest gripes for me was that as a blogger, I need to be able to manipulate photos and images and the device didn’t seem to come with a good graphics handler. I had to ask a bunch of people for a recommendation for an app in the Windows Store that performed those functions. I finally found one but didn’t feel like paying $15 for a very basic function. So, for work, I used my MacBook Pro. This was also true back in the hotel room, for all the same reasons. Now it’s important to state here that the MacBook Pro just happened to be the laptop I have, it’s less about that particular device than it is about the difference in form and function between a laptop and this Surface hybrid.

After work in my hotel

How about when I needed to kick back and relax? Well, for that, the iPad was faster and easier to use. Part of that is because the iPad is personalized to me and I don’t have to “log in”. This is a pro and a con. As I have said before, the security of having multiple Windows profiles is one of the reasons the Surface is attractive. It makes this a tablet that can be shared comfortably by multiple people ensuring each person has their own secure private space. The downside of that equation is it (psychologically) feels like it takes longer to “log in” to a Microsoft device. Especially with a Microsoft account. It’s not supported by the facts because it’s quick to log in to the Surface, it’s more psychological.

At the airport

At an airport restaurant, the one place where the Surface shined was enabling me to use the video player to watch a couple of video files I had loaded on there via USB. That was definitely an advantage and the video was crisp and clear. There were a couple of times when the media play seemed a little sluggish, especially when I would fast forward or rewind. This didn’t happen enough to be a major problem. On the flight back I was also able to watch a couple of movie files that I had loaded and it worked great. Battery life was great and I never had that complaint.

What does this all mean?

So, even though I like the device, love the detachable hybrid nature of it and the construction, 7 days in with the Surface and I am still honestly trying to figure out what role it plays. If you don’t have a laptop and need one, this can do a lot of the things you need with Microsoft Office and as long as your graphic needs are limited you should be fine. The downside is that with the Type Cover, my device cost me $690 and that’s kinda serious money. Enough to make you consider a new larger and light Windows 8 laptop. If you don’t have a tablet and need one, this is more expensive than a 4th generation iPad ($599) if you add the Type Cover. With the amount of apps in the Windows Store vs the Apple Store, it’s hard to see consumers making that long term choice. If you don’t have a tablet OR a laptop, this might be a place to start. It does come with Microsoft Office and the keyboard does kick ass. The questions that now remain are:
  • Will the Windows Store fill up with valuable Windows RT apps fast enough?
  • Does this device make sense compared to a Microsoft Surface Pro with legacy desktop app support?
  • Is this priced properly? $499 seems very expensive for a base model.
  • Do consumers really understand the difference between RT and Windows 8 Pro?
  • What is Microsoft’s vision for this device? What are the use cases?
I’ll continue to test and play with it but I can tell you a lot of bloggers and technology pros are very skeptical about this device. There seems to be a “wait for the Intel version” attitude setting in. 7 days in, that might not be a bad idea. 🙂 Do you plan to buy a Surface? Did you buy and receive a Microsoft Surface? What do you think? Use the comments below]]>

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