Three months ago I wrote about my initial impression of the Microsoft Surface tablet. I was pretty happy with the device (it has actually replaced my iPad) and it has gotten better since. People keep on asking me about it and whether I’d buy the Surface Pro (you’d have to be stupid to do so, see below) when it comes out. So here is the update.
Still terrible.. The softtouch keyboard is the worst thing I’ve ever used. It is terribly inaccurate and if it weren’t for the numbers I would probably type much faster using the on-screen keyboard. The speed doesn’t bother me too much (I have an iPhone and an Android phone for business) but the accuracy does. Look, my spelling is atrocious as it is – I don’t need Surface making the drop from 8th grade skill set to the 3rd grade. It’s just awful, disappointing in a sense that I thought the initial suckiness was mostly because it was new and you always need to “get used” to a new keyboard. The only thing I’ve gotten used to is that it sucks as anything other than a screen scratch protector. Mouse is terrible as well.
This item alone… should scare anyone dumb enough to think about purchasing Surface Pro.
Worse than the first impression.. Initially I couldn’t see much of a difference between my iPad and my Surface and as far as display goes it’s pretty much the same (even though iPad Retina is technically far more superior).
Where it fails a lot is in the input. It’s Windows, OK? You still get presented with menus and window controls that are not easy to hit at all. If you’re reading this blog on a Windows laptop or monitor, visualize how big the File menu is or how big the close control is. Now, shrink it to the Surface size. Now place your finger over it – how confident are you that you’ll hit the right control? There is a big difference between copy and cut and it’s not a pleasant one either.
The screen is OK for Metro and overall navigation and reading. But the moment you try to actually do something or open Explorer or Internet Explorer.. it’s just awful.
Getting better.. Finding a lot more stuff in the Marketplace (still nowhere near Android or Apple) and the actual content inside the apps is on par with what you’re used to if you’ve already got a tablet.
This category loses as much praise as it gets – the management of the tiles is painful mostly due to the terrible screen input. By default each app has a tile on your main screen and the developer picks how big that tile is – but you can resize it. You do so by holding down the tile for a second (sometimes more, feeling like eternity) and selecting the smaller or bigger size. Then you have to drag the tile to the position you want it in – either through the excruciatingly slow right/left scroll or by dragging the tile down and then back up where you want it (as the whole Surface main screen zooms out. Here is the problem – 9/10 times I tried the zoom and drop.. it didn’t work. Sometimes I’d drag it too far down, sometimes not enough, sometimes it randomly dropped the tile somewhere in the middle.
You can definitely tell they rushed it, it’s by no means a polished product. We can just hope that it’s an Xbox and not EveryOtherMicrosoftBuyTheNextReleaseForAFix product.
Still the web browser.. In terms of ability to do stuff with a real desktop “experience” (even without desktop apps) separates this device from the rest of the tablets. Internet Explorer now also supports Flash and being able to see and experience the web in a way that it’s built (and not shrunk down to some 3rd party app) makes a huge difference.
The mail app is terrible. No ability to mass forward a bunch of messages. Seriously?
Knowing what you know… would you still buy it or go Pro?
Surface RT… Probably. We’ll buy any new gadget simply for the lab testing purposes and making sure our apps work on them flawlessly.
Surface Pro.. Absolutely not, you’d be an idiot to buy one.
There are several things that most of my Microsoft friends don’t know (or willfully choose to ignore) about Surface Pro. First, you won’t get the 10 hours of battery life you now get with your iPad. Actually, you won’t even get half that much. The keyboard is terrible leaving you at the mercy of a crappy screen that is just not capable of providing a good interaction with typical desktop-sized apps. Then there is price – at nearly $1000 you’re better off getting the Lenovo Yoga or something that has been actually built for the productivity as opposed to the Microsoft.. hack.
Just my opinion..
If these were not business purchases though.. I would have a hefty dose of hesitation. Surface products are just not good and that’s why they are not selling (not my opinion, fact) and even though Microsoft is burning money big time on TV to promote it (fact; like we asked them to do years ago when they were a dominant player to help us against Apple / Google that were barely on the radar).. they aren’t coming even close to making a dent. Of my Facebook friends, only Microsoft employees and their biggest fans are taking up the Windows Phone and most of them haven’t touched the Surface but to be fair most of them will probably want to wait for Surface Pro.
Here is the problem.. that should stop you cold in your tracks: Windows 8 has had a terrible start. No disputing that, they are giving it away at $40 for the Pro all day and it’s selling slower than even Windows 7. As of late Microsoft has been less and less patient dealing with sideshow products – and with Windows 8 tanking – how patient will Microsoft be with an overpriced, underpowered, half baked product? Surface Pro will come with barely 4 hours of battery life and a four digit price tag all without 4G.
Will Microsoft stay patient with its half baked devices or will it release 2’s as soon as possible next year? Will the users bite or will they buy from Samsung/Lenovo/Dell?