Microsoft Surface 2

I recently replaced my iPad 3rd Generation with a Microsoft Surface 2. I’ve been a loyal iPad user since the 1st generation, and I am still a big fan of Apple hardware, but iOS7 wasn’t working well for me.

Why the Surface?

I am not interested in needing to carry a tablet and a laptop with me for work. Tablets have come a long way since the first iPad, and should be able to replace my computer for just about everything. I’m not ready go without a laptop entirely, but it shouldn’t need to travel with me. The Surface 2 had the software and connections I needed to replace many of the little tasks that had me needing to carry a laptop.

Simply enough, a USB port. The Surface 2 has a full size USB 3.0 port that makes a lot of things, just easier. Transferring photos off my digital camera, getting or putting files on a thumb drive, and connecting additional tools/devices. Bonus, when I plug in my phone it will charge it. These are basic computer functions, yet I couldn’t do them with my iPad or needed additional hardware. And although we are in the age for cloud storage and sharing everything online, many people (including many of my clients) have not made that full switch yet. If a client hands you a thumb drive, they expect you to be able to get the information off it.

A file system is what makes it possible for me to plug in a thumb drive and move the files around. The Surface has a familiar file system, accessible in desktop mode. It’s not touch optimized and it’s ideal to work with, but is very handy for moving multiple files around. It also allows me to select the 250 photos off my digital camera and import then directly to a SkyDrive folder.

A quick note about SkyDrive. The Surface 2 comes with 200gb of SkyDrive storage for 2 years. This was a selling point for me. I am a big fan of SkyDrive and have already been moving a lot of my files there. I was ready to pay for more storage already, so this just fit perfectly.

I also opted for the Touch Cover 2. I’m still trying it out. I can always use my full size Bluetooth keyboard if necessary. Although I’m finding, I use the Surface mostly without a keyboard.

Things I don’t like:

Proprietary charger. I knew going in that I would have to deal with this, but I still don’t like it. Having the cord in the bag isn’t a burden, but an annoyance. At this point, I should be charging almost all my devices with the same wire. I want my phone and tablet to share a charger.

Touch Cover 2 randomly disconnects. The keyboard will stop working sporadically. I am not sure if this is a software issue, if the Touch Cover is defected, or I am doing something wrong. I will be bringing it to the Microsoft store eventually to have them look at it. That being said, I rarely use a keyboard with the device.

Screen sharing doesn’t work. I use Skype a lot for work and occasionally I need to share my screen with other people in the call. The Skype Window 8 App is unable to do this. I have to plan ahead and make sure I am on a laptop or desktop if I am going to be screen sharing.

Other tablets I considered.

Nokia 2520 – I really liked the form factor of this tablet. What held me back was the lack of a full size USB port (an adapter is required), and the uncertainty of Nokia’s future. I’m not sure I can expect support to continue once Microsoft finishes the acquisition of Nokia (it is a direct competitor to the Surface). I don’t see much third-party support, for the same reason. I see more of a future for the Surface 2.

Dell Venue 8 Pro – I was very interested in the form factor of this tablet. The idea of an 8 inch tablet running full Windows 8 (the Surface runs Windows 8 RT) is a compelling offer. It would essentially be a desktop operating system in a tablet form factor. The device lacked connection though. Only having a Micro-USB port and no video out without an adapter was a deal breaker. It will stay on my radar for the future.

Google Nexus 7 – I entertained the idea of going with Android. Although most the reviews of Android say differently, I have not enjoyed the user experience on the devices. I ended up seeing it as another iPad, not a device that could replace my laptop.

To Sum Up

I’m very happy with the Surface 2 so far. The only time I had to go back to my iPad was to forward a couple of iCloud emails I forgot about.I haven’t seen any issues with the smaller App market of Windows 8. The stuff I use everyday is all there.

If you have any specific questions about the Surface feel free to contact me, or leave a comment with your question.

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