The Surface Pro
I have written several posts in the past about my Surface RT. I am still a strong advocate of that device but I recently relented and bought a 128GB Surface Pro (taking advantage of the Microsoft’s price reduction that eventually came to Australia). Many will comment that my timing was lousy. I bought it just before Microsoft announced the 23 September 2013 Launch Date. I had the belief (whether it is still right or wrong time will tell) that upgraded Surface devices would not be available until the New Year. Notwithstanding the upcoming launch date, I am not disappointed I bought it. I needed a new laptop at the time.
My last laptop was a Sony Vaio which I paid almost $4000 for several years ago. It unfortunately got slower over time, to the extent that was frustrating to use (i.e. unusable). I have often wondered how computers appear to slow down as they age. I am not sure whether my expectations change, or whether Intel is just evil.
The only programs that I have installed on the Pro are:
- Microsoft Home Premium 365 Subscription: This gives the full suite of the Office 2013 Products including OneNote, Publisher and Access. This is excellent value.
- Reckon Accounts (which I believe to be expensive compared to Quicken in the US)
- Adobe X1 Reader; and
- Autodesk Sketch Pro 6.
Obviously I have available to me all the Metro Apps that I have on the RT. I have installed on the Pro those Apps that I actually use.
It is when you have more than one Windows 8 device that the full convenience of the Windows 8 operating system becomes apparent. Once the Pro was configured correctly, all my settings on the RT (contacts, most passwords, explorer favourites) sync and are continually updated between the RT and Pro. I have 8.1 Preview installed on the RT. I suspect syncing will further improve once both machines have the final version of 8.1 on 18 October 2013. I do not propose to install the 8.1 Preview on the Pro. I will wait until the full version is released. The syncing of data also works to lesser extend with my Windows Phone. My subscriptions in the Fifth App which (I discuss below) sync between all devices.
I use the Pro as a small workstation. It is has access to the Workplace Domain resources without being a Domain Computer. I did not want to give up my Microsoft Account Login to change to a Domain (Local) Login. I understand that Windows 8.1 has new abilities to connect to the Workplace, but I understand that you may also need Server 2012 R2 to use those new abilities. I am using Word 2013 on the Pro to compose this post because the Type Cover is attached to it. The RT has only the Touch Cover.
I also bought a Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse to use with the Prol. I do not really need the Wedge Mouse when using the Office Programs; it was needed when using Reckon Accounts. Reckon Accounts was the Australian Version of Quicken and was known as Quicken until the beginning of this year. Fingers or even the Pro Stylus on a small screen was not just convenient.
The Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse
The Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition is surprisingly small, particularly when it is compared to the box that it is packed in. The small size is a convenience, you would not get any increased functionality if it was larger (other than possibly making it easier to find on a cluttered desk).
What I found particularly surprising about the touch mouse, is how well I believe that it would work with Windows 8 on non-touch screen workstation. It allows you to use most of the touch gestures without the touch screen. I am not sure that I can explain this accurately. The Windows 8 Metro Touch gestures once you get to learn them (which is not hard) become second nature (so much so that when I have use an iPad I have difficulty). When using the touch mouse, most of those gestures just seem to automatically flow through subconsciously without having to touch the screen. I had to check when composing this, you cannot use Pinch and Expand on the mouse touch surface to expand or contract what is displayed.
Reflections on the Surface RT
I still use the RT for consuming information particularly when reading in bed or on a train. It is lighter and more convenient to hold. I cannot imagine using the Pro for reading when I am in bed. The RT is heavy enough. It is always on and updating in standby mode.
The improved Snap views in Windows 8.1 works marvellously with my favourite News reader app (The Fifth) which I use to do most of my news consumption.
When opening an article in the browser, it automatically goes in snap view, and opens the article in Explorer with a large window to the right.
I am still and advocate of the RT architecture. I expect that technology advances, and both ARM and Intel architectures become more powerful but less power hungry, the ARM architecture will always permit thinner and lighter products.
14 September 2013