Why Microsoft’s Surface works for me

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In February 2011 I persevered through Microsoft’s online release of the Surface Pro 128 and got one, at release, online, despite a marathon journey through rejected credit cards that were not actually rejected and accessories that reported as unavailable but showed up on both my credit card and on my doorstep – thank you Brown Van guy. Two months after delivery I reported the following to Canada’s IT Managers’ Blog

“My recent trip taking me through two countries and nine cities in twelve days was made easier by the replacement of my heavy laptop with my new Microsoft Surface Pro 128. On a trip like this, taking carry on luggage only is key to reducing travel stress. In the past my traditional laptop and its charger took up the entire laptop section of my backpack. Traveling with my new Surface, that space was shared with two shirts, socks, gloves, scarf, and hat.

“While the extra space was nice to have on this trip, it will become critical as airlines limit travelers to one carry on item from the current two. But space and weight saving alone are not reason enough to replace my trusty old laptop travel partner. The Surface does everything I need a laptop to do. It also serves my needs as a tablet. On this trip I needed to take notes while walking in a mine. The handwriting app worked great collecting my notes in a MS Word document. There are many articles written discussing the Surface and whether it is a tablet or a laptop. For me it is neither. It is a new kind of device, a “Laplet”.

“While the Surface is a great replacement for both my laptop and current tablet, there are still opportunities for improvement. The main one for me is the quality of the rear facing camera. The current low resolution camera that comes with the Surface may be adequate for video communication but it is not good for photography. Including a high resolution camera would mean one less device needed on the road. For now I will have to take my digital camera.

“Others have written about Surface battery life and the fact that is less than that of other tablets. I don’t find this a problem and I am happy to trade that for a full power processor. The small form factor charger is easy to carry around and the option to piggy back a USB charge to my smart phone is a welcome option. Of course anything Microsoft can do to increase battery life would be welcome. One additional opportunity for design improvement is with the supplied stylus. While it is easy to use, its magnetic dock to the charging input is too easy to knock off as I did on a number of occasions resulting in an all fours hunt to find and retrieve it.”

Now, ten months after my Surface Pro 128 purchase, I am about to buy the new Surface 2.  From what I have read, the cameras are better, the battery lasts as long as industry standard baselines and the new processor is even faster than before.  But the stylus that disappeared on me two months ago and has yet to be found, still bonds magnetically to the charging contacts; but at least this time it does not cost extra.  Stay tuned as I put the second generation Microsoft Laplet through its paces. It should be fun even if I can’t manage to hold on to the stylus.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Dave O'Leary
Dave O'Leary
Dave is a founding managing partner of REDDS Venture Investment Partners (www.reddsvip.com). His career in post-secondary education included roles as CIO, Vice-President and acting President. Dave is a member of the Practitioner Board of the Association for Computing Machinery. He chairs the ACM Practitioner Board Marketing Committee and is also a second term member of the Board's Professional Development Committee. (ACM - Association for Computing Machinery--official IFIP international member representative, largest and most respected international computing science, research, education, innovation professional association well known for their AM Turing Award (Nobel of computing) with 1 million USD prize, 1.5 millions user digital library, 2 million reach, learning center, Applicative conference, Queue magazine, 200 conferences/events, 78 publications/news, 37 Special Interest Groups). He is a board director of the Global Industry Council and the immediate Past President of the Canadian Information Processing Society of British Columbia. Dave is co-founder and director of an ISV computer technology business and is currently leading and advising start ups in the USA, China, Europe, and Canada. He serves as a task force member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and is the past chair of the Canadian National Council of Deans of Information and Communications Technology. He served two terms as a director of the Canadian National Information and Communications Technology Sector Council advising on National technology and economic strategy. Dave has appeared as a panel member in a number of Microsoft webcasts and has presented globally on the business and technical impacts of technology in training. He is the recipient (2002) of the highest national award for leadership in post-secondary education.

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