scratching the surface

I feel dirty.

We got several Windows Surface tablet devices in the office yesterday, and we all crowded around the IT department for the unveiling. I was able to get my hands on it, and played around for a good while – enough to form some opinions, which I am sure you are all dying to hear.

I .. kind of want one.

The Surface is not without issues, but it would be the perfect tablet for my job .. much more so than the iPad. We are strictly a Mac environment, but I’m a writer who produces content that lives online or in .PDF form: everything I do is in Word. I am tickled at the idea of being able to work remotely off a tablet, and the Surface – once the official Office install comes out; right now it’s just a trial – would allow me to do that with flying colours. It’s a good size for a tablet and quasi-laptop, and Mircosoft used the extra time to market to work out some of the common annoyances that exist in other tablets. I like the cover that doubles as a keyboard, and I could probably get used to typing on it very quickly.

Also, it kind of made me nostalgic for using Windows.

I’ve been Mac-only for several years now, but there was a comfortable familiarity when using the Surface. It’s not enough to make me give up my various iDevices, but I did start quietly justifying the Surface to myself in the guise of “I need it for work and to stay OS current!” (which is how I got all my Macs in the first place).

So, what did I like/find non-offensive about the Surface?

The Good:

  • The smart cover/keyboard has a trackpad on it! That is very cool, and one thing I often miss when using an external keyboard with my iPad: I still have to poke the screen with a finger to select things.
  • The built-in kickstand is cool, and makes a satisfying noise
  • The device is smart enough to know when you’ve moved the cover to the rear, and disables the keyboard on it so you’re not triggering random commands
  • Windows 8 looks pretty cool, and was instantly comfortable (even somewhat nostalgic) to use
  • Pretty, pretty screen
  • USB port and Micro SD card slot allows you to expand storage

Not everything is made of kittens and roses, though.

The Bad:

  • The gestures aren’t at all intuitive. How many nerds does it take to figure out the task bar on a Surface Tablet? Four: Two developers, a technical writer, and a QA co-op plus about ten minutes of manhandling before an accidental discovery followed by a “what the fuck?”.
  • It’s a Microsoft Product: everything runs off Bing.
  • The OS is bloated: a fresh out of the box 32GB unit had 16.9GB of storage available.
  • The device supports both landscape and portrait, but not all apps are available in both modes
  • Very limited app store, and most of your favourites will not be available any time soon (if ever)
  • The PRICE oh my god: $519 for the 32GB model; an extra $130 if you want the keyboard/cover. Purchased together, it’s a little cheaper: $619/$719 for 32GB/64GB
  • I’m a 2-hour drive from the Microsoft HQ, but the Surface costs $20 more in Canada AND we only get boring colour options for the keyboard cover

I’d love a little more time to really get my hands dirty with the Surface, because my first experience left me curious as to what the thing can really do. Sadly, the price is very prohibitive for a toy that I don’t actually need (which has never stopped me in the past, but that’s a lot of money) .. but I will forever be wondering in the back of my mind: would I be better off with a Windows Surface tablet over my iPad? I may never know*.

*: if anyone wants to send me a Surface Tablet for science and blogging, I will gladly sell out a little bit in exchange for one. Just sayin’.

3 thoughts on “scratching the surface

  1. Hold off till surface RT is released will be more expensive but will have a better screen and real PC intel quad core processor and will act more like a pc and less like a windows 8 phone.

  2. You can convert the trial version of office into a real version by applying a windows update (it’s hidden under optional updates). It only went out as a trial copy as it wasn’t ready in time to ship.

  3. Pingback: mmxii in review « delicious juice dot com: unapologetically inappropriate

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