Surface Pro

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#41
With a proper keyboard and pointing device and a good-size screen to output to, it's A LOT more credible as a computer, just as one might expect. I actually have a pretty cool multimonitor set up right now where my tablet is propped up below my real monitor and it's kind of great. The Metro screen that I can just tap on and leave on the little monitor is a better deal than any single-monitor Windows 8 behavior.

Gaming-wise, it's not god-awful. League of Legends plays OK (over 30fps at all times) as long as I turn shadows off and all my Humble Bundle indie games work fine. Dragon Age: Origins ground it to a halt.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#44
I really hate the Surface's on screen keyboard. I love having real shift and alt and all the keyboard shortcuts, but it needs to offer a drag-style keyboard in the worst way. I'm probably three times faster at text input on my phone and that's just sad.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#45
Microsoft knocked $150 off the price of the Surface RT. They're still about $100 too expensive for what they are. Worldwide sales estimates suggest it's only sold about a half million of 'em since launch, a number Samsung or Apple would probably categorize as "a good week."
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#47
Surface Pro is interesting now. It's a great device in a great form factor. I think it needs a less stupid power connector and I wouldn't say no to another USB port, but it's super fast as-is and has a fantastic display. I really liked having four RDP sessions and the vSphere Client running with enough pixels to reasonably interact with sometimes two or three of those things at once. I've also found it to be fantastic for small instructional sessions.
Yes, it could stand to be cheaper than it is and Microsoft should've released something like it 18 months before it did, but it deserves consideration for what it is.
 
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#48
The Surface Pro is heavy, excessively expensive. Other than that, I rather liked it.

If the RT were close to free, I might use it till I didn't want to anymore and then throw it away. It's problem is that it is a technological dead-end. No one is going to write stuff for it.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#49
It IS heavy, but it's in a different functional class from something like a Nexus or an iPad since it does "real computer" stuff and not mobile device stuff.
I think the argument in favor of the RT is that it's this device that does mobile device stuff, that isn't susceptible to malware, that works with the Windows management ecosystem and is capable of running the a real version of Office. Personally I don't think that combination is all that compelling, but I can see it working for the 2% of schools that didn't hop on the iPad bandwagon.
 
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#51
I have spent perhaps 10 minutes in Metro total. Just enough to launch IE, go to Ninite, and install Classic Shell and Firefox. Several hundred times.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#52
Hint: Stick a copy of your preferred ninite executable on your Skydrive so you don't have to sully yourself with IE. That's also a good place to add whatever other freeware downloads and web shortcuts to get your clients set.

I actually have a whole Windows 7 and Windows 8 default user account on mine, so new clients start their lives with IE TPLs, Adblock+ for Firefox and Chrome, some nice Wallpaper and a clean desktop.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#53
I've spent a couple days now using the RT-version of the Surface and I have a few thoughts. Most of them are complaints borne out of past experiences, but overall I'd call it pretty positive.

0. Surface needs a swipe-to-type keyboard.

1. There are no decent web browsers. There's IE. But TPLs work and apparently my TPL subscriptions are stored as part of my Microsoft account login, but I'd rather have Firefox or Chrome. To my mind, that's a disincentive from using the web on this thing. I don't like having to gesture just to see the back button and address bar. Holy crap does that blow.

2. But I like the Email/Contacts/Calendar more than I thought I would. Honestly, I hate GMail's conversation view. Hate hate hate. Coming from Android and the GMail app there, the stock Email client is actually a breath of fresh air. I like how big and finger-friendly things are, something I didn't really appreciate when I was using Thunderbird on the Surface Pro.

3. The Share Charm is the biggest waste on the platform. I can't even make it useful when I try. I guess it talks to Facebook? Maybe? I can't make it do anything I actually want to share to. I did finally find a stand-alone Metro app called "Share" that provides a hook to Google Drive and Dropbox, but not to Youtube (RT famously has issues with that) or any photo-sharing services. So data sharing is still pretty minimal, which completely blows for a mobile device that doesn't have 100% data portability in the way that Android does.

4. Printing. Printing works, kinda. RT wants to connect to shared Windows printers. It does not want to talk to Printers via LPR or even HTTP, which is what decent standalone printers do. So I can print to the crappy HP inkjet in my co-worker's office but not to the big-boy Samsung, Xerox or Brother printers in the building. Also, in spite of the fact that printing is one of the few things that RT really does have in its favor, very few applications support printing aside from the Office 2013 apps.

5. Office 2013 apps. This has been said before and now I am saying it: Everything the fuck else on Surface RT is a modern-style ("Metro") app. The Office applications are more or less the only applications that run in Desktop mode. There's no accommodation for finger friendliness. You wanna scroll that tiny-ass scrollbar? I hope you have girly-fingers! Also, in spite of having multiple connections to cloud storage services installed on my device, those services are not accessible from Office unless they happen to be named "Skydrive."

I think the right strategy for living with an RT is to forget the Desktop and the Desktop apps. Use Google Drive or something. That's an ironic contrast from standard Windows 8.

6. On a related note: Windows Help is also a desktop app for some reason. Even help for Modern style apps. Gee thanks.

7. There are some weird holes in the realm of application availability. No one appears to be making a decent local media player, though there are several pretty decent streaming music clients. I hate Xbox Music, the Windows 8 stock app, but I simply can't find any other app with which to replace it. There are crap-tons of streaming music players but nothing that easily syncs Windows Media Player (or any other desktop media playback software) with the RT.

I can do most of the stuff I want to do, but a few of the services I thought would have an app-ified form (e.g. Imgur) really don't. I also thought I'd be able to find more tools to extend the Share Charm or perhaps replace the stock on-screen keyboard, but that stuff just isn't there. Maybe those things will get better after another couple years.

8. Everything in Metro-land is big and finger-friendly. They're all also a little bit information-sparse, but I can see how that would be an improvement for a lot of people, especially older sorts. I wish more apps would leave buttons on-screen, but for a device and environment made for consuming content, it's acceptable.

9. I can still *DO* essentially everything I want to do. I can open and use the files I have already (a 720p MKV with embedded subtitles played just fine). There are a lot of things that are kind of lame, but not huge, gaping functionality holes. The experience for me is analogous to sitting down at an OSX machine or being forced to use KDE after years of being an AfterStep user. The tools are there, but they're not the tools of choice.

It's not exactly what I want for myself, but I can definitely see recommending one of these guys to other people. Forget that it's "Windows" because it's not. It's CLOSE to Windows, but more importantly, the tiles and bright colors actually do work well and consistently once you wrap your brain around swiping up from the bottom or in from the right. The high contrast, large-ish print and chunky icons do a great job of making functions and options obvious, even if more than half of one's potential choices are off-screen in the Options or Charms Menus. What really makes me say this was spending a couple hours showing the RT to a 63 year old man. I saw his light bulb go on. An anecdote is not evidence, but the relative consistency of the experience and the platform makes it a lot more teachable to others, and it does NOT have the sucktastic iOS security model that prevents an iFruit from doing absolutely anything useful or interesting.
 

CityK

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#54
Honestly, I hate GMail's conversation view. Hate hate hate.
me too ... with a passion

or being forced to use KDE after years of being an AfterStep user. The tools are there, but they're not the tools of choice.
err, I would rather like to imagine that most AfterStep users would think that they had died and gone to software heaven .... or realized that they've been stuck in a 1990s UI timewarp for the past 15 or so years ...
 

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#56
I didn't really think to mess with games, but the first two non-trivial titles I picked from the Windows Store, Avengers Initiative and Disney The Little Mermaid Undersea Treasures, both hang on startup on my Surface 2 even though both of them indicate they support ARM processors and that amounts to a whole seven possible devices.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#58
For whom?

I'm still really undecided about the Surface. It's frustrating for me because I know what I could do on an Android device and all of those features that I miss, like the swipe-able keyboard and consistent data sharing options. Having real Microsoft Office plus Remote Desktop plus a proper file manager means that I could do the vast majority of my JOB on one, but as a device that's geared to media consumption it seems kind of lacking.

I could definitely see it as an alternative to a laptop for a young person who was still in school, or for an older person whose needs would be entirely met by IE, Office 2013, Pandora and Netflix.

For the money, that's a gorgeous 10" screen and decent hardware, and the option of a decent keyboard (the clicky one is decent, at least).
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#59
The more I use this thing, the more I think that I could live with it if three problems were fixed:
1. Either a different web browser or some ability to customize modern IE. Modern IE doesn't leave tab controls or even navigation on screen. That's pretty awful for someone with my browsing habits.
2. File system access is terribly inconsistent. Desktop MS-Office isn't smart enough to save to anything but the local FS or OneDrive (nee Skydrive). If I open a file from Google Drive or Dropbox, it can't save back. I'm more or less forced to use OneDrive. I have a process running to copy stuff out of Onedrive in to Google Drive on a desktop machine every five minutes, but that's a stupid thing to have to do.
3. Sharing. As I've already indicated. The Modern Interface doesn't even have a clipboard analogue. In its present state, the Share charm is entirely too much like iOS - inconsistent at best and usually not doing anything I want.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#61
I agreed to go computer shopping with a few ladies I know of the "working their way through college"-variety this afternoon. We kind of had a pre-meeting about who wants what and some interesting themes came up:

* No one was remotely interested in a 17" laptop. Even without my prompting.
* No one in my little group was willing to look at a netbook. They were all familiar with them and understood that they suck (Things don't fit on the screen and they're super slow) even if they didn't know why.
* Most of them very specifically wanted Windows 8 because it's the new thing. I was willing to advocate for Chromebooks, but once I explained what they were, there was a lot of fear that one wouldn't be able to handle school-related tasks (the holdout really wanted a Macbook but couldn't afford one).
* Only one of them had ever used the DVD drive on her current computer for anything but loading printer drivers. All of them had machines more than five years old. The holdout was in her 30s and watches DVDs on hers while the others were 20, 21 and 24.
* Most of them were looking to spend around $500.

I wasn't sure how exciting going between the three big electronics retailers (Costco, HH Gregg and Best Buy) was going to be, but it was interesting.
The girls were very interested in the idea of a fully functional purse-size computer. Dell, Toshiba and Asus Windows 8 tablets (all 8" devices with maybe 10GB free disk space and 1280x720 displays) were drooled over even after I explained that each of them is basically a differently-packaged Netbook. I'm kind of down on 1366x768 15" screens, but absolutely everything that size I saw had one, which at the very least made looking through the choices on offer a lot easier. I was surprised that almost all the $400 - $500 15" vomit boxes were dual core AMD CPUs, mostly A4s and A6s. This was across all brands and all retailers. Amazon and Newegg have $400-ish i3 machines, but that's too much to expect from brick and mortar even with a $100 markup. There was really even less to distinguish one 15" laptop from another than I would have guessed.

The Best Buy guy who wound up following us was trying really hard to argue that 1366x768 is a perfectly good screen resolution for a 15" screen because "higher resolutions mean everything is smaller." Which is true, but then I showed him how to change the DPI setting. Apparently that is sorcery to a blue shirt. I wound up giving Windows lessons while we wandered around.

So here's the funny thing: Three of the four wound up buying refurbished Surface Pro 2s. They weren't on the sales floor and the blue shirt didn't even know they had them, but I looked on their web site while my friends were falling in love with the Surface Pro 3 on display. The store we visited had them on premises. My friends got three keyboards and three 128GB SP2s for about $1700, tax inclusive. They really were the best devices they could get for the money, once it was established that there were in fact available (My other friend didn't quite have cash in hand to get one. She's hoping to go back after she works the weekend).

The lesson I take from this is that if Microsoft were to drop the price on new Surface Pros by about $200, they would scour the shitty laptop market from the Earth and the world would be better for it.
 

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#64
I was waiting for someone to post that comic. :) That really is some gold right there given 3-years back they predicted that exactly.
 

Pradeep

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#69
Will need to see if they are still limiting performance with thermal throttling, and which actual nvidia gpu they are using. The hinge seems strange in its closed position, I guess they couldn't pull off the Lenovo look with the full watchband type hinge.
 

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#70
There might be patents or something? Or maybe it's because of how the reversible locking mechanism on the thing works.
My guess is that it's going to be some lesser form of Quadro rather than a consumer chip. It sounds like it's getting a mobile-grade CPU rather than a ULV if Microsoft isn't exaggerating about performance and yeah, that probably means it's going to be throttled to hell.

Supposedly most of the battery is in the keyboard. Is a tablet with a three hour run time worth the trade off to be able to ditch the keyboard and have a lighter device?
 

MaxBurn

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#73
I had a surface pro 3 for about four months. I wanted something a bit more powerful than an android tablet that wasn't a full laptop.

The surface pro wasn't it. It was a frustrating mobile experience.
-The on screen keyboard sucks. On android I really like swiftkey, on windows they don't appear to allow 3rd party keyboards.
-The touch screen was constantly giving me ghost taps, tapping at the top of the screen resulted in something happening on the bottom of the screen quite often.
-I tried pairing a little anker bluetooth keyboard to the surface but having two devices that aren't connected is a bad experience, you can't just set it up on a pillow and use it that way on the couch or bed. The microsoft keyboard/touchpad would have made the experience better I'm sure but I'm just looking at the cost for it and wondering why so much money? Why wasn't it included?
-Not the tablets fault but the suite of apps, or any app I really wanted to use was a bad touch screen experience. I found myself resorting to the pen all too often to get accuracy in menus etc. So that's three non connected things on the couch to get lost.
-Knowing that the windows mobile app market isn't doing well and ALREADY being heavily invested on two marketplaces that are doing much better I wasn't interested in trying those suite of apps. I thought of trying an android emulator like remix OS but it just came out at the wrong time, chromebooks are now getting android apps naively. Once I learned that I was done with windows mobile and done with the surface.


Other contenders:
Sony 10" Z2 tablet. It's a 801 processor and 2gb of ram so web browsing wasn't the greatest. Android apps were great on it though. Really just a fantastic tablet, had it for a couple years. The surface pro didn't manage to replace this mobile device.

ASUS chromebook flip. Just got it, and it's amazing. Already posted about it: http://www.storageforum.net/forum/showthread.php/9227-Which-Tablets?p=196360&viewfull=1#post196360
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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#74
The Surface 3 has a different digitizer than the 1st and 2nd-generation products. It's a step down from the older ones as I understand things.
I don't know why Microsoft hasn't implemented Swiftkey for Windows yet. They own the company. Swipe-to-type is one of my big beefs against Windows on tablets as well.

I'd like to have a newer model Surface Pro (I have an SP2), but I can't really justify it. Hardware hasn't improved all that much in the last few years. Ironically, I probably use my Dell Venue 8 slightly more often, since its weight makes it better for "stand up and gesture with while I give lectures" usage.
 
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