Thursday, February 28, 2013

Window 8 - Fourteenth Pass: The Surface Plunge

After a lot of research I finally took the plunge and purchased a Surface Pro.  As you know I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best hardware application that maximizes the touch screen abilities of Windows 8, among other things.

I'm currently in Phoenix and had the opportunity to visit a physical Microsoft store.  The closet real store to me is in Chicago and the store in Indy is just a pop-up store so it only has Microsoft hardware. The benefit to being able to spend time in a physical store is that Microsoft wisely sells their hardware and hardware from other manufacturers.  That's smart as it gave me the chance to play not only with the Surface but with the Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Sony, and Lenovo options I've been exploring.

My biggest concern was RAM as the Surface is limited to only 4gb of RAM while the competition could go up to 8gb of RAM with varying form factors. My other concern, due to the amount of travel I do, was weight.  My goal is to lighten my load and not make my backpack heavier.

A friend at the conference I'm attending pointed out that the majority of the time 4gb of RAM, for what I'm doing will be plenty and if not and paging is required for memory the SSD HD makes it fast enough for most needs.  That helps relieve my fears about wanting more than 4gb of RAM.

The sales guy at the store did a great job with the company line on why the Surface is better.  He used the Apple model, Microsoft owns the hardware from the bottom up so the Surface is the best option as it was built for Windows 8.  Again, that sounds just like Apple and why iOS only runs on Apple hardware.  That does make a bit of sense.

The other factor was weight and the Surface was lighter than most of the other options on the table.  It also had the ability to go completely without the keyboard while other hardware either had the keyboard permanently attached or had a much heavier detachable keyboard.

I opted to go with the Touch keyboard vs. the type cover.  I'm pretty good typing on the glass on my iPad but there is no doubt in my mind that a physical keyboard is faster for me.  I also purchased a case so I can protect the Surface and keyboard while having a single way to carry the device, keyboard, pen, and power adapter.

So now the Beta test begins.  Can I use a dock and replace my desktop and laptop with the Surface Pro?  Can I find a dock that works great with 2 screens?  Can I figure out how to type on the glass because the Surface doesn't lay flat at a short angle like the iPad does for typing on the glass?  With 16 hours of flying ahead of me is the Surface Pro as easy to use as my iPad on a plane?  How does the battery life hold out?

All these questions and more to be answered soon.  Stay tuned and be sure to share your experiences.  If you've already figured something out I don't want to reinvent that wheel.