Earlier this year when the Surface Pros were released, I was quick to purchase one. In fact, Shane and I purchased his and hers 128gb models on launch day. Naturally when they first arrived, they were all shiny and new. The love I felt was overwhelming and I just couldn’t put it down.
However after 5-6 months now, I have to say, it is still a very solid device and I use it daily.
- Note Taking – Possibly the biggest use it gets is as a note taking device. Naturally I take it to every meeting and have not had a paper based notebook since receiving the device. This isn’t a big shock for me however since if you flip back to my blog from the early days, I was an avid Tablet PC user in 2003-2004 at which point I became addicted to OneNote. The fact I can take notes on my Surface and have them synced up instantly with my laptop and phone (via Skydrive) is beyond amazing. Of course that isn’t a Surface thing so much as a OneNote thing but what is amazing about the surface is the pen. I love writing and drawing with it.
- Wireframes - For super low fidelity wireframing with clients, I often find myself sketching out design and layouts on my Surface while projecting on a screen or sharing via Lync screen sharing. It gives me the flexibility and ease of drawing on a whiteboard, but also instant recording and saving so all my drawings are there when I am done. If I want to share with participants, I can send out as a PDF or image in seconds after the meeting. I will use tools such as Balsamiq to produce level 2 wireframes but for on the spot capture of priorities and concepts, I love using my surface as a sketchpad.
- Airplanes – My Dell M4700 is a beast and serves me well for all heavy lifting. But there is no way I am getting any work done on this bugger on a plane while in economy class. And as much as I like to fly up front, I spent 6-10 hours a week in a plane and am usually flying econo style. My Surface fits perfect on the tray even when the person up front decides to recline their seat (which in my case is EVERY time). Of course the one downfall is when I am in Executive Class which ironically with Air Canada is the one place my Surface doesn’t work well in laptop mode as the trays are very narrow so its hard to balance. In those cases, I go in tablet mode and all is fine.
- Presentations - If my presentation is using Office 365 or a remote server, then I am happy to run it from my Surface. However admittedly I rely still on my faithful Dell for scenarios requiring a local virtual image which is still about 50% of the time for me.
Some small things that I would like to see improved are the battery life. I get about 3-4 hours if I am working hard core. If I turn down some things as screen brightness and wi-fi, it might get better but for the most part I can make this work. My laptops are always in the same range so I am used to this timeline. From an App perspective, I am not really lacking as I can install anything I would typically install on Windows but it would be nice to see more apps appear within the store. Its improving all the time however. Finally I love the way the stylus clicks in the side but I wouldn’t mind if I could stick it inside the device as you often can with other tablets. I have lost a few pens now due to rushing out of a client site and forgetting to grab my pen which was sitting on the side while the surface was charging.
All and all though – a great device and one I am still very happy with after 5-6 months.