So I got a Surface
I bought a Microsoft Surface tablet. While I have one of the first-gen iPads that work gave me a while back, this is the first tablet I’ve spent money on. I don’t currently own any other Microsoft products, and usually am in close proximity to an iPhone or MacBook. This post is for everyone that keeps asking me ‘why?’ or ‘how is it?’
The Apple ecosystem is nice when things work, but it’s a little less nice when you come to rely on something and get burned by it. Resetting my Apple password is one of the most frustrating things I do on a computer and it seems to happen with some regularitly. iTunes Match is great, but it doesn’t work on my phone any more, and market dominance brings complancency and a lack of innovation.
I play devil’s advocate a lot, I root for the underdog, and being platform agnostic is a good thing, so enter the Surface running Windows RT. I’ve used it to be productive (Evernote, Mail), consume (Video, News), be social (Skype, Facebook, Twitter), and generally use the internet.
In short: it looks good, has a nice feel to it, and functions pretty well for most of the things I need a computer or tablet to do. That said, if I go on a trip it looks like I’ll still need my MacBook for using Adobe Lightroom to process RAW files from my camera, and for downloading and uploading GPS information from my Garmin watch. Hopefully both of these will be fixed in future updates and apps.
All of my thoughts (maybe) worth sharing so far:
- It has Internet Explorer and Mail. They both work.
- The outside seems pretty sturdy and scratch resistant, but I didn't get a case and the keyboard cover thing only covers one side. We'll see how well that works out in the long run.
- The power adapter, while magnetic and easy to remove, requires a little focus to get plugged in correctly. It is far less nice than Apple's MagSafe connectors.
- The touch keyboard is different but is actually kindof nice. Using my Apple bluetooth keyboard seems wonky afterwards. The vibrating feedback from touching the Windows home button is neat, as is the whole Windows 8 touch interface. Not initially intuitive, but once you learn the basics it is very effective.
- People whine about no start menu and try to get apps to get it back. I don't understand. Why are you so attached to a button?
- The kickstand is awesome when on a sturdy surface, but not as awesome when balanced on legs. It would be if the pivot was higher up so it 'bounced' less
- It's a computer, and a tablet. That actually means it's going to be a little boring. It is, I'd rather be outside anyways.
- The 'People' app is pretty great. Read Facebook and Twitter in one place. That entire mess still needs to figure out how to keep track of the whole "What I've seen so far" thing.
- Skydrive is a lot like Dropbox, but it's more like iCloud with support for other platforms. Magically slide around photos/images/etc in a cross-platform way, plus get really great app support on the native platform.
- Microsoft Office included. Pretty nice if you're into that sort of thing.
- The screen aspect ratio is a little strange. It's a little awkward for reading, but nice for video.
- It seems like the Surface should be thicker and lighter.
- Tethering with iPhone for internet doesn't seem to work.
- The built in weather, news, finiance, etc, apps are all really polished lookign and simple and convey information, but wtf there are advertisements in them for cars?
- It seems like I need a Windows 8 pc at home for the full experience. If I had one, more of my media would be available remotely.
- Skype works pretty well.
- Messages is neat, but so far is just Facebook and I couldn't see replies from one of the people I messaged. Apple iMessage is way cooler but of course requires a complete buy-in to their ecosystem
- There are some definite gaps in the app store, specifically I need something for Campfire and Google Reader. Things.app may have to go away too if I can find a reasonable replacement.
- Currently there isn't a way to to do text snippets, clipboard management for multi-copy/paste,etc, and those are huge timesavers for me at this point on Mac OS X.
- Sometimes the screen is black, with the backlight obviously on, and no indication of what is going on. Thats a little annoying and iDevices don't seem to ever do that.
- Sometimes it needs a reboot to apply software updates. Are we really still doing that?