So while at the TechEd North America conference Microsoft gave the attendees, speakers and booth staff the ability to purchase some Microsoft Surfii (surf-I) at some major discounts. The Surface RT was available for $99 US and the Surface Pro was just $399 US. Needless to say I purchased both of them.
I’ve been using them for about a week now and I’ve got to say that I’m really liking them for the most part. The devices are pretty light even with the keyboard attached. I spent the entire flight home from my layover in Houston to San Diego using just the Pro to do some writing on via the type cover and while it was a little cramped and took a little getting used to, within about 30 minutes of using it I was basically adjusted to using it. The only thing that really kept screwing me up is the lack of a right click key on the keyboard, which I’m very used to using as I’m not big on using the mouse to right click when I’m writing a book or article. Using the device on the flight I was using it with the kickstand and I found that it was at a really good angle for me to see everything on the screen without any eye strain or potential problems like that.
Another annoyance that I found was that when the type cover isn’t flat on a hard surface and you try and right click with it you’ll end up left clicking. In the airport I was sitting with the surface on my lap with the kickstand out and about 1/2 the time when I used the right click I got a left click instead. Very annoying.
After getting home with the device I didn’t do much heavy work with it besides getting some software installed. I was really impressed with the quality of the WiFi antenna in it. Using it downstairs and in my back yard there’s great WiFi signal when only one of my two laptop works well downstairs in the same stop in the living room.
Recently I used the Surface Pro as a notebook with the pen that comes with it. I needed to figure out which sprinklers in my yard went with which zone (there’s 15 zones in the timer and 11 controllers and no documentation) in our new house. I grabbed my Surface Pro, grabbed the pen (which docks nicely to the power port when you aren’t charging the Pro) and fired up OneNote. I just wrote in it just like I would if I had a piece of paper, but in this case it’s a never ending piece of paper because it just keeps going instead of making you flip the page. Because I’ve got OneNote configured to sync everything to the cloud, everything just syncs up to OneNote on my laptops and desktop so all my notes were instantly available on my desktop when I sat down. Now I can’t say anything about the quality of the hand writing, but that’s all me not the device (it isn’t any better on paper).
Because the Surface Pro is just Windows 8 I installed Cubby on it and configured it to sync the My Documents folder to all my other machines. This gives me all my scripts, documents, articles, presentations, etc. on the Surface Pro just like on my desktop and laptops. I’ve also got all the normal VPN applications installed as well as SQL Server Management Studio to that I can do basically whatever client work I need to from this little device.
Now the Surface RT isn’t a full blown copy of Windows 8. To me it is more of an iPad replacement than anything else. So on that guy I’ve installed the same stuff that is on my iPad, games. Free ones whenever possible. For a platform for playing those kinds of games it is working pretty well. I can’t comment on using it for actual work type things as I’ve got no plans for doing that on the device. One thing that I will say is that I wish that the pen worked on the Surface RT as well as the Surface Pro, but it appears that what ever the pen talks to only works on the Surface Pro.
For the prices I paid, these items were a steal. If I was paying full price I’d have to think more about purchasing them (which should be obvious as I didn’t buy them until I got them for a damn good price at TechEd).