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I wanted to go all-tablet. that's how this started.
I've written about my adventures in Android-land. My on again, off again affair with the cult of Apple. But this itch was... something different.
I have traveled extensively around the world for work, dragging with me, at all times, my trusty laptop. Right now, its a real beaut of a 3 lbs, 15 inch retina display MacBook.
You can't put it in the pocket in front of you on a plane.
And I still have to switch to a virtual machine to run a few critical Windows apps for work.
It got me to thinking: could I leave the big laptop, and instead of trying to get everything on a single pane of glass, what if I went to three panes of glass, all tablets?
A seven inch Nexus 7, A 10 inch iPad, and the new Microsoft Surface (10 inches). All combined, it comes in a half-pound less than my laptop.
So, I went to a Microsoft Store. I poked around at the Surface Pro. I installed apps on it.
But, at a cold $1000 with a keyboard, I wasn't ready to make the leap. That is, until I remembered that I work in an IT department. So I got to talking with the guy who approves devices for use. One thing lead to another, and here I am with a corporate issued MS Surface.
I've had it for 10 days now, and I just got it working on the company VPN. this is not Microsoft's fault. But, the complicated manner in which MS Office 2013 is licensed was a pain in the ass to get working.
Anyway, here's my take:
First off, I like Windows 8. Have since it's release. And its way better when you can touch it. I've been using Win8 on my virtual machine within Mac OS X since it came out, and I have grown accustomed to how it works with a touchpad. But now that I can touch it, I realize more and more what Microsoft was trying to accomplish. And you know what? Apple better move in this direction. Fast.
Because Microsoft almost nailed it.
But they didn't. There's just enough places where they didn't go all-in, and I am frustrated by some set of actions I need to take that require me to revert to the little dragpad at the bottom of the connectable keyboard. Places that are just too small on screen to touch without fat-fingering the whole thing.
I like that I can draw in Excel. I like pen-mode with the built in touch-sensitive Wacom pen. (But why-- WHY-- is Visio not programmed to work with the pen? WHY GOD WHY?)
The handwriting translation is damn good. I haven't been able to fool it. Of course, I haven't tried it drunk yet. So give me time.
I like the Metro-style Calendar. It embarrassing how much better it is than Apple's iCal. Too bad the default Windows Mail is only adequate. I still switch into Outlook for email.
The apps in the Windows Store are getting better, but I'm confused by why there aren't totally awesome games there. I mean, PC gaming has defined the industry for years! Why is it that I can only find stupid little bejeweled rip-offs in there? Where's Bioshock? Where's Call of Duty?
But more apps are coming. I'm writing this in Evernote Touch, which I find to be a great implementation of the native Metro UI.
I've read that people don't think the Surface should ever be used in portrait mode. that its long skinny body makes portrait awkward, and you can only connect the keyboard in landscape. While the latter is true, I found holding it in portrait was good for a few things, primarily the guilty joy of junking out on Pinterest.
Not that, um, I've ever done that. I've just heard that continually scrolling down on Pinterest with a long screen is nice.
You can't put the Surface on you're lap. there's only one setting for the kickstand on the back, and the angle is too acute for the lap. I can't emphasize how much this is the total deal-breaker. No matter what else is good, I need to type in bed, or on a bus, or the backseat of a car. And you just can't do that with a Surface. It pretty much needs a flat surface at desk height. It's too heavy to hold comfortably in one hand, and you can't set it on your lap.
And then there's the power cord. The power connector is maddeningly difficult to get into place. I have to wiggle and wiggle and wiggle to get it connected into the strangely located place on the right side.
given these issues, I'd wager that I'd be happier with a touchscreen ultrabook from Lenovo over the surface. At least then I could put it on my lap.
But I'm not buying another laptop. I've already got one of those.