Microsoft Surface: First Impressions

Microsoft Surface: First Impressions

I started writing this review a while back, but decided to keep it using the Surface for a while so I could have honest feedback.  I have to say that the product is actually quite interesting – it could totally replace my iPad and it could potentially replace my laptop.  If it can survive the bad press and the bad decisions made my MS marketing, Microsoft could actually make a killing with this product.

[worth noting that Word did not allow me to publish this post – I had to end up editing it on my Macbook Air using MarsEdit]

The Good

Display

The display is crisp, clear, and has large real estate.  For watching movies, the landscape view is pretty sweet.   I am writing this review in landscape view at the moment, and this is actually quite pleasant to work width.  On horizontal mode, things change quite drastically due to the long height.  I have not found an application I enjoy using in vertical mode.

My only gripe is the jaggedness you experience when zooming into text, it takes a while for the font to smooth, which is somewhat shocking considering this does not happen on my 1st generation iPad.

Applications

I’ve always hated the fact that the App store from Apple does not allow you to try before you buy.  For this reason, I’ve purchased many apps that I simply don’t use because they are terrible.  The MS App Store allows you try before you buy, which is a clear winner over Apple.  Today I tried Angry Birds Space and it clearly allowed me to preview a behavior which made me not want to buy it on the Surface.

I hope the list of applications increases fast.  I miss DropBox and Google Drive.  My gripe right now is that some of the applications do not offer feature parity when compared to Android/iOS versions.  For instance, Amazon’s Kindle app does not have the smooth page turning animation found on the iOS.  I don’t know if this is because it is difficult for devs to do this using the Surface API or because Amazon and the like are simply rushing simple versions of their product to test the waters before going all in.

Another plus for the apps are the versions of some of the apps that make them a pleasure to work with.  The version of Lync and Remote Desktop connection from Microsoft are amazing, I hope the API will allow other software developers to deliver something of that quality with great ease (which makes me ponder why they didn’t do that with Office for the Surface?)

The Not So Good

Keyboard

[note: the typos below were not corrected on purpose]

I a typing this the keboard on my lap at the DFW airport.  I will not fparagraphs so see howrustrating it can be for it to skipletters that I type.  The worst partis that it just stalls.  This is somthing you me used to if you ware g with an iPad if you miss a key here and there.

This is another paragraph while I am sitting in the place.  While it is on the tray table, the keyboard is a lot more responsive.  My guess is that when it is in your lap, the keyboard loses connectivity and that’s when the errors above start to happen.  Very annoying.

The Ugly

Screenshot key confusing

In order to take a screenshot in the Surface, you need to keep the windows menu pressed and then press the volume-up key.  This is worse than it sounds as I do take a lot of screenshots for retrieval of items on the Internet when I don’t have a connection.  I simply cannot get used to this key combo.  Doing so, I have accidentally  activate narrator – turning narrator off is quite a challenge:

Sluggishness

The Surface Apps are usually snappy, but they feel par-on-par when it comes to launching with my 1st generation iPad.  Resizing an image in Word, something that this processor should handle with no problems, is quite sluggish, have a look:

After using Word for a while and trying to scroll down and up on this document, I have to say that the performance is awful.  My iPad 1stGen can scroll a lot smoother than Word can.  I’ll verify with the final version of Word if Windows Update lets me get the final version one day.

Desktop Integration

I really hate using the word hate, but I hate what they have done with the whole desktop integration.  Did anyone at Microsoft actually try using the desktop or any of the Win8 windows with a Surface?  It usually involves tapping 5 times until you actually hit what you wanted.  The desktop should not exist in this product.  Just like Apple did not include any OS X components on their iOS, MS should not include anything that is part of the desktop in this tablet.

This will be really awful for some users…how are you supposed to join a wireless network, by using the charm or trying to click the minuscule wireless icon on the taskbar?

I also don’t like how Office products are not integrated with the Surface experience.  When I try and select a photo to include in this post, I get the Windows Open/Save dialog – how do I pick up from the same categories the Photo application uses?  The Photo application does not present you the file system ever, neither should Word.

Multilanguage Capabilities

I love my iPhone because it allows me to switch between Spanish and English keyboards when I am at the keyboard by just pressing ONE button.  This integration is just as awesome when I want to dictate to Siri in English or Spanish.  With the Surface, I have no idea how to switch between languages other than going through the major pain in the ass that it is to add an additional keyboard by using the desktop.

If you are someone who writes in more than one language on daily basis, this will really get to you.

Windows update

Ay Caramaba…why is the Windows Update just like the one on Win8?  Shouldn’t the OS be updated via the Store application?  Why have two different places for updating your Surface?  In the week or so that I’ve had my Surface, I still have not been able to update to final versions of the Office because I can’t do Windows Updates.

Office version is not for work

Some of the reviews I’ve read mention how the Surface has Office, which saves you money as compared to buying Pages and other apps for the iPad.  Yeah, this is all great, but it only works if you are NOT intending to use Office for work, which we know, none of us do, right? (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/offer/office-home-student-rt-preview-FX103210361.aspx)

As sold, Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview and the final edition are not designed for commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities. However, organizations who purchase commercial use rights or have a commercial license to Office 2013 suites can use Office Home & Student 2013 RT for commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities..

No voice dictation

Microsoft needs to realize that they are not pioneers in the whole tablet market, which means that anything at this point that they release should be as good or better than competition, but not less.  I have not messed with the Droid’s dictation capabilities, but I use Siri on daily basis for simple things such as setting a timer to writing a complete e-mail while the iPhone is strapped to my shoulder while riding to work without touching the iPhone.  Where is all that in the Surface?  I’m sure that hardware-wise this can easily support, please bring it ASAP!

Final Word

So is the Surface a laptop and a tablet replacement?  Unfortunately I have to say no at this point.  It can very well replace my iPad with the kind of things I do on it (web surfing, e-mail, iTunes, videos, youtube, Facebook).  On the other hand, when it comes to a full laptop replacement, it falls short due to quirks in the OS that I hope will be fixed as I don’t think I could get accustomed to.

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