If you want a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 in some specific configurations, especially above the 128GB level, in my country of Switzerland (aka Neandertal) you have to be lucky – fast – relentless – persistent – brave – steadfast. I was. And finally after several near death experiences here, here, here and here i have it in my hands.
So i’d like to share my inital thoughts on the machine and the operating systems in this post. If you have read my previous posts, you already know that i want to try to reconnect with windows computers. With the operating system, with the hardware i abandonded a decade ago.
I spare you an in depth unboxing but i have to tell you, i love unboxing new stuff. And the Surface is pleasantly well packaged – so is the Type Cover i bought with it (essential add-on in my book). And therefore the unboxing was lovely. something i did not expect from Microsoft (No, i don’t know why i did not expect it) and therefore the first impression was great. Really great. It makes you want to use the product right away. It feels thoughtful and welcoming.
This is not intended to be an in depth review. I hope to do this in a later stage, when i had enough time to test the machine in several of the application areas i intend to use the machine.
Form Factor / Materials / Hardware
Contrary to most reviews i do not think that the surface is too thick. I think it is a good compromise between a tablet and a laptop. Portability and no compromise in functions and power, that’s the hook here. The Magnesium-Alloy chassis is marvelous. I really love how it feels in your hand. The touch- and type cover material needs some time getting used to. It is novel to touch – high quality – but novel and only time will tell if it’s usable. The Wacom Digitizer is nice and sturdy enough, although i fear that i’ll lose it soon (bought a spare one immediately).
The “snap-on” of the type cover is near perfect. Although if you change to tablet mode and leave the cover, it will detach more often than not. Typing on it is good. Better on the type cover than on the touch cover of course. I dislike the touchpad area though, so i had to buy a mouse for getting around quick. I decided for a Logitech T630 ultrathin touch mouse. Another lucky punch because i love this mouse very much. It is a perfect companion for the Surface Pro 2 and i strongly suggest anyone to buy one with the machine.
The Kick-stand surprised me the most. Quite frankly i love it. Both positions serve you good in specific situations. I had it on my lap on a train ride or put it on a desktop in the other position while working on some stuff. Very usable for me.
The screen is nice enough, the pixel density works but i think future iterations will have to improve in this area. I think the adjustability of the brightness is alright and will work most of the time. It is not the brightest of screens though.
I feared the setup process. I feared thousands of antivirus-program pop-ups, i feared that mister McAffee would greet me personally. I feared connectivity issues with mit airport extreme wireless setup at home.
But the fear was mostly ungrounded. Initial setup was done fast and without a hickup. Updates installed, configurations worked and the windows opened and let me peek in. OneDrive was a bit too omnipresent and intrusive for my taste but i knew coming in that it was a big part in the windows 8.1 philosophy.
Where a bit bumpy – as expected. Learn the new gestures, dig into some oldschool windows file-directory stuff, re-learn the windows/microsoft philosophy of user interface design, rethink of keyboard-shortcuts and stuff. Very, very different from Apple.
Oldschool Windows user might hate this – and i read a lot of this hate on the internet – but i really dig the Metro-live-tile-touch interface which is now on top of a windows which has not changed much (superficially anyway) since my last contact with it. I’d wish for even more freedom to resize and arrange tiles to my liking but hey, it’s a start i guess.
I installed Office 365 right away. And used only OneNote so far. I was and still am particularly interested in using this program for Work. I wanted to handwrite some things with the digitizer as soon as i could because i was sceptical of it. Boy was i wrong. Handwriting and in most case transform your handwriting directly to computerized text really works amazingly well. The ability to handwrite notes and compile thoughts in the form of pictures, tables, text, links in OneNote already made the purchase worthwile i think. But more on that in a later review.
One other feature i loved was the ability to split my screen into two parts and run to applications simultaneously. What a coup de liberation this is for a iPad user. It is nothing short of amazing and quite frankly – every laptop, but especially tablets and even phones with a large enough screen need this. Samsung does it best i think with it’s latest addition to the NotePro lineup. Although i think i won’t use the Surface much as a straight tablet. The form-factor is not the best for this of course. But i love having the option.
I can feel it. I can feel and see what Microsoft has created. It looks good and promising so far.
Love / Surprise / Keep:
- Handwriting directly with the Wacom Digitizer
- Type Cover / Kick Stand
- Metro Start Screen
Undecided / Not so much:
- Classic Windows under the hood
- Mail / Bing / Internet Explorer
- App Store – It is empty. Very empty.
Thanks for reading! I’ll let you know in the coming weeks how our relationship develops. Have a wonderful day/night wherever you are!