Affinity Consulting Blog


This article is less a review of the new Microsoft Surface Pro 2, than it is a sharing of my personal experience with one. I, like everyone that is into using technology, have been searching for the perfect, little device that has all the power of my desktop or laptop combined with the convenience of being very light-weight, physically small and “ready” in an instant.

I was intrigued by the marketing and advertising leading up to the release of the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, so I found myself in the Microsoft store on the day of their release on October 22nd. I was eager and anxious to get it home, get it configured, and get it ready for its first road trip. While I was in the store, I was talking to a physician who was also waiting to pick up his new Surface and he told me that he has been a proud Surface owner since it was first released and that he just sold his iPad and was anxiously waiting to get his new Surface Pro 2 into service.

Get rid of the iPad! Really!

Along with the Surface, I purchased the companion keyboard, took it home and began the process of setting it up. To my surprise, the keyboard has a nice, easy touch and it has the built-in mouse touchpad. Soon I discovered that I can easily use the keyboard with built-in mouse, or the stylus that came with the Surface, or let my fingers do the walking. And, of course, there is the on-screen keyboard which can be used when the regular keyboard is detached. So far, so good.

The Surface is, of course, Windows 8.1 which made learning the new interface an experience unto itself. I had to take a little tutorial to learn some simple navigational maneuvers. And, after researching how to close a window or app, discovered that many windows stay active until they are no longer used, then they close themselves. Not sure how I feel about that!

As part of the configuration, I was led through various “options” for setting up security and logging in. There was the option for using a standard Windows login, then there was the 4-digit pin option, and lastly there was the “use a photo” option. Pretty cool! However, I selected the 4-digit pin option using the same code as the one I use on my iPad. The Wi-Fi easily found my home Wi-Fi signal and, to my delight, the technology in the Surface seems to boost the Wi-Fi speed.

Like my iPad, but unlike my desktop, the system has that same “instant on” capability and responsiveness. No endless waiting.

Next thing I needed setup and configured is e-mail, both my Hosted Exchange business email as well as my personal gmail account. The setup was fast, easy and intuitive. In a flash I had all my email.

Next stop: The Online Store to hunt for my favorite apps. What I discovered is that my “favorite” and most used apps for business are readily available. Of course, on the Surface I can use Microsoft Office apps for full word processing capabilities as well as spreadsheet work and presentations. This is a huge benefit, especially when away from my desktop or laptop. In addition to the Windows8 tiles, there is a icon called “desktop” and with that selection I am in familiar territory. Looks like my Win7 desktop. I have installed the icons that take me to our production software which is all hosted. I can easily access and use our billing, accounting, practice management, document management and other tools used on a day-to-day basis.

But, my disappointment came when I wanted to install my favorite “R&R” items such as Zynga’s Words with Friends, or the Zynga Matching Game I play with my grandchildren. And, I must confess that I do keep other games on my iPad – mostly ones that my grandchildren enjoy, but they are there for us to enjoy together. That’s not to say I did not find games – I did find games, but not the ones we are most familiar with and those that the kids find most entertaining. Looks like I will keep my iPad.

So, in spite of my desire to have the “be all, end all” device, it appears that the Surface is a great business tool while the iPad continues to be a much used, much needed device. Here are some other things I can do more easily with my iPad than with the Surface:

  • On the spot navigation and search capabilities because my iPad has both cell as well as Wi-Fi connectivity. With the Surface, the only option is Wi-Fi so if I am in an area where there is no Wi-Fi, I will have to take the time and resources to fire up the “hotspot” on my phone. Not quite as convenient;
  • Ability to close apps or shut down apps when desired;
  • Lighter weight;
  • Thinner footprint.

On the other hand, with the Surface, I have:

  • Familiar apps such as MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, and other business tools;
  • A USB 3.0 port;
  • A docking station;
  • Ability to print.

Microsoft wisely provided some popular substitutes as well:

  • Includes Skype to compete with FaceTime;
  • Includes Skydrive Storage to compete with iCloud.

Bottom line for me is that I use my Surface during the business day and am still using my iPad for leisure. And, at the moment I am not quite ready to give up my laptop/desktop. But is has been a very positive experience and I only need to bring along the laptop sometimes, not all the time.

This article first appeared the South Florida ALA Newsletter - Volume XIII - Issue 4

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