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Review: Surface Pro 128

At the BUILD 2013 conference this year the attendees were lucky enough to get Surface Pros as one of the give-aways.  I realize this is a device that has been in the market since January of this year, but I wanted to record my thoughts as a user and a developer.

Pros

There are a number of things that I really find attractive about the Surface Pro.  One of them is the screen which is crystal clear and bright.  It is especially impressive after seeing the screen on the Acer W3 which looks like it belongs on a Fisher Price toy. 

Another perk that the Pro has over the RT is the stylus.  I spent a lot of time at the BUILD conference writing notes in the OneNote app.  It has amazing hand writing recognition.  If it can understand my chicken scratch without teaching it then it should impress most people.

Before I got the Surface I tried out both the Type Cover and Touch Cover at the Microsoft Store.  I quickly realized that at that if you are going to use the Surface for more than a few minutes at a time you are going to want the Type Cover especially if you are a touch typist.  While the first commercials highlighted the super-magnet attachment it actually is a well working system that gives you a very compact form factor.

What good is a tablet if it doesn’t work well as a tablet.  Whether it is watching videos, interacting with Twitter or playing any number of games available from the Windows Store, there are plenty of well design consumption apps that work in the tablet mode.

Cons

It is great that the Surface Pro has the Windows Desktop and can run all the same applications as Windows 7.  The one challenge is the resolution.  It is hard to read text sometimes in the desktop and the touch points are too small to use your fingers (this is where the stylus and keyboard come in handy).  As a developer this makes it a little hard to work on this as a primary device although it is doable.

Battery life is good, but it was a bit of a challenge at BUILD where there wasn’t much time to put it on the multitude of available charging stations for more than a couple of minutes between session.  On average I could get through about 3/4 of the day on a single change.  Hopefully the Surface Pro II will run on Haswell and this issue will be a thing of the past.

While Office comes with the Surface RT it does not come with the Pro.  I suggest that it is worth getting an Office 365 subscription to round out the device. 

Summary

Until I got the Surface Pro I thought that a tablet was simply a very nice toy.  After using the Surface Pro for a couple of week I have found that it has become my primary device and I am only turning to my laptop when I need the extra storage that I don’t have on the Surface giving me many more Windows 7 apps that I can run.  I would suggest that any IT pro or developer give the Surface a try as I think you can improve your productivity with it’s capabilities.  Enjoy

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posted on Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:58 AM Print
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Tim Murphy

Tim is a Solutions Architect for PSC Group, LLC. He has been an IT consultant since 1999 specializing in Microsoft technologies. Along with running the Chicago Information Technology Architects Group and speaking on Microsoft and architecture topics he was also contributing author on "The Definitive Guide to the Microsoft Enterprise Library".



I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program



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