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The Microsoft Surface Pro and How I fell in love

I’m in the market for a new tablet but don’t care much for the iPad or Android platforms, as both are more like oversized replica of their phone bretheren than anything else; I’m speaking from experience as I’ve owned both units for extended periods but could not get them to behave like true tablets.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with either the iOS or the Android platforms.  I’m actually a regular “phone” user of both and enjoy them.  However, to me a Tablet should be something that I would let me keep my old PC functionality that I’ve learn to use and love as well as throw in the enjoyment of the large smartphone functions.

Before I go on with why Mircosoft Surface Pro will be my default tablet moving forward and why I might even migrate to a Windows 8 phone, please do know that as I had stated earlier I really made every attempt at using both my Apple and Android tablets for true practical work applications such as word processing, enterprise email, spreadsheets, presentations and graphic work…etc.  But I’ve always gotten stuck with inflexible storage options, proprietary and sometime incompatible software alternatives to my Windows based applications.  I am not a big fan of the Mac OS, as it did not work for me either as a corporate operating system, again despite numerous attempts and expensive hardware aquisitions; discussions of which is beyond the scope of this article.  So I basically gave up on tablets and always reverted back to my trusty Windows PC which has always worked well for me for the last two decades.

Lastly, I’m writing this article not for the purpose of diminishing the quality of and the importance of Apple’s or Android’s OS’s.  My purspose is to express my pleasant surprise with the features, functionality and performance of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet.

When I accidentally ran into a Microsoft store at one of Southern California’s malls, I was surprised to see one, as I’ve been used to Microsoft not being in the business of having brick and mortar type outlets.  My first instict was “why whould I go in there, I know everything I need to know about Microsoft’s product line.  But, my wife was out shopping around and we had agreed to meet at the coffee shop in a couple of hours after she was done, I had some time to kill instead of being stuck for two hours in the coffee shop browsing the internet while shopped.  Besides, to me, and being the gadget junky it is like going into a toy store when I go in these outlets (yes The Apple stores as well as Sony’s, Best Buy, Fry’s…etc included) I’m like a kid in a toy store.

I walk in and am greeted with a few rows of tablets displays, and on the store side a bunch of smatphone displays as well as a bunch of laptops from non-Microsoft vendors scattered around in nice displays as well.

At first, I thought, since I’m still running my laptop on Windows 7 (and happily so I might add), why not check out Windows 8.  Besides I considered myself a tech junky and it would be a shame not to get with the times and be familiar with the highly touted but hesitantly adapted Windows 8.  I hope onto one of the stools and start clicking around one of the displayed laptops playing around and exploring Windows eight.

It took a few clicks and “guessing clicks” to figure out my way around navigating the new Metro interface but I was on my way to my computing experimentation.  One of the Microsoft employees asked me if I had any questions and I respectfully said “no thank you”, but she proceeded to ask me if I had checked out Microsoft’s new Surface tablets and I told her that I’ve had it with tablets, and they cannot compete or complement my work flow and “it would just be another device to maintain and carry around”.  She informed me that if I take the Surface Pro for a test drive I might be pleasantly surprise.  I agreed to give it a whirl and within a few minutes I was sold or more likely hooked.  I can sometime be an implusive shopper but not this time, the Surface did me in from all practical and functional perspectives except the understandable data storage capacity.

The Surface comes in several flavors.  Mainly to versions, the Surface RT and the Surface Pro.  From what I understand the differences are as follows:

The Surface RT, come in a lower price, a maximum memory capacity of 64 GB and is only able to install Windows 8 apps, which can be accessed from store similar to Google Play and Apples App Store.  I played around with it and it felt extremely similar in feature functions to Apple’s iPads and Android’s Tablets; give or take a few minor differences here and there.  Overall the difference are grey at best.  In my opinion, you can pick up any of the three and be in good shape for your standard table needs and you will pay closely comparable prices.

The Surface Pro form factor is not easy to distinguish from the RT, it is however targeted to the professional user who required corporate like access to their files, network resources and documentation, enterprise email and the sea of legacy Windows applications out there.  It will obviously come at a premium price and offers a PC/laptop like 4GB of RAM.  The storage memory come in to sizes, 64GB and 128 GB.

With the Surface Pro, one has to keep in mind that the operating system is going to eat up a good amout of your storage GB’s; add to that your Apps and you legacy Windows applications and you might eat through 30 plus GBs already.  The good news though is that Skydrive (Microsoft’s cloud) is well integrated into the OS and will can act as a 100 Gigabyte extenstion to your existing storage for (currently $50 bucks a year).  Off course and I’m confident that if you are a Google Drive or Dropbox devotee, you should be fine as well.  But I liked such feature as OneNote’s integration with Skydrive giving you both local and remote access to your notes.

My favorite part about the Surface Pro though is the ablilty to continue using the file organization structure that is easily considered the defacto structure in my book.  I am referring to the “My Documents”, “My Pictures”, “My Music”…etc, file library structure.

I found the speed and performance of both the Surface RT and Surface Pro very comparable to the competing iPads and Android tablets I had used before.  No sign of a Retina Display like feature in the Surface; but then again, according to the Genius at the Apple store, it is a display that is so good, you can’t even see it with the naked eye anyway.

Finally if you compare the price/functions/features, between same class devices amongst the big three (Android, Apple and Microsoft) you will find yourself getting a nice deal through Microsoft.

This is only my observation.  If you are in the market for a table do your homework and make sure you give Surface Pro a fair try.  I don’t think you will be disapointed; you might even fall in love with it just like I did.

Go ahead shop around and leave comments with what you think.  Agree or disagree, I would love any feedback.

 

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