Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Surface Pro, 3 Months Later

I've logged just under 100 hours on my Surface Pro and while I have few complaints, it is not a device I would recommend to everyone. The best the device has to offer is not what most people need. I haven't bothered to re-read my old post about this device. Apologies if I end up repeating myself a little bit.
This device is designed for work. While the coating along alloy bits chip and scratch, the device is rugged and can take a beating. I ended up buying a thick laptop sticker and cutting it to size and applying it to the back. Otherwise, the thing is extremely resilient.
I find the four and a half hours of battery life, while nerve-wracking at times, adequate because of how quickly the device takes a charge. As long as I find an outlet once a day, my Surface Pro chugs on.
I've struggled with the pen somewhat. I had downloaded the newer Wacom Driver but recently went back to the original one deployed with the device by Microsoft. Having my cursor trapped in the upper left hand corner of the desktop every other reboot got old, and I don't need pressure sensitivity in Photoshop just yet. Later this summer, when I start painting covers for novels and larger resolution textures for my Windows 8 game, such will become more inconvenient. Sadly, for the portability, there is no better option currently. I like Sketchbook Pro better in some ways anyway. Telling myself that is only going to go so far though.
I've deleted every metro app except for Camera, Skype, Skydrive, and Windows Phone. Microsoft's unwise placement of ads within the included metro applications became intolerable. If I pay good money for a device and an OS, I will not endure ads, period. I've sought out third party or open source replacements wherever I could and found plenty of options. However, I'd like to offer kudos to Microsoft for actually allowing me to delete the apps. Sadly, Apple Inc. won't allow such acts of reason within iOS, you have to resort to hiding them in a folder.  
I ended up procuring both versions of the cover; type and touch. They are both equally useful depending on what I'm doing and they are light enough I put both in my bag. I'm glad my wife coaxed me into eventually getting the touch cover after much prevarication. If I'm using the device casually, to draw, or away from my desk, the touch cover is way better than the type. For serious text generation, the type cover is a better choice.
The regular updates the Surface Pro receives makes it work better and better each month. It runs like my old hand built XP machine, using minimal resources to keep the system running. It so clean and uncluttered that I sometimes prefer it to my W530. I love my workstation, but it works best plugged in with plenty of power and Ethernet cable connected. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, do not pay to upgrade a laptop's WiFi connectivity to anything Intel if you can help it. From what I've seen, they do not support their own hardware and care nothing for the end user.   
I thought space would be an issue, but between getting the 128GB version and mapping a 32GB microSD card, I've got plenty of room to spare, 56 GB to be precise. I could even see someone using this device as a righteous mobile gaming platform by rotating games and being careful with hard drive space. I've had my own delusions of running a Steam Version of Fallout: New Vegas and an Xbox controller with it on the road.
Getting the device to work for me and the effort required trying different configurations, mapping drives, and similar is mostly above the skill level of the casual user. That isn't to say it was rocket science, or that a non-techy couldn't figure those things out. However, they are less likely to do so and would likely endure the faults of the device with no small amount of frustration.
Anyone looking at a Surface Pro should first put a Surface RT or a Lenovo Yoga 11 RT device in their hands first. For most people one of these two devices is going to fit the bill far better than a Surface Pro would. If you find that either of those devices lacks necessary functionality (64 bit OS, Adobe Creative Suite, etcetera) then look at the Surface Pro, but only if you think having pen input is essential. There are some great ultrabooks on the market right now, with more to come if Haswell is half as good as the hype.

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