I have been dabbling in tablets for a while now. It all started when the first gen iPad hit the shelves in the UK. Now, whilst all these tablets are great and they all performed admirably during the time I had them, my needs have quite simply evolved beyond a mobile OS.
Since I began writing for this site I have been trying to find the perfect mobile writing solution. I spent most of my writing time on a train, therefore I needed something light yet powerful enough to fulfil my other needs.
I needed the power and flexibility of a mobile computer. I use the term ‘mobile computer’ deliberately as I no longer just see a tablet as a giant version of a phone. I now find myself using them for very different things.
For example, when I left the house this morning I could have quite easily picked up my Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact that I bought to review for the site. However if I had I don’t think that this article would be getting written. The reason? I would have had to type the whole thing on a touch keyboard instead of the frankly brilliant Type Cover on this, my device of choice, the Surface Pro 3…
Although I’m quite adept at writing on a tablet on-screen keyboard, I just don’t get that same feedback.
That’s the first reason why I’m using a Surface. The other reasons are not quite as simple though, and are a little convoluted, but I will try to explain them here..
- First the Surface machines are MS hardware. That means that the latest and greatest software from Redmond will end up on these machines first.
I am given comfort in knowing that, just like Apple hardware, the OS is written with devices like the Surface Pro 3 in mind. This means that most of the time it will just work.
- Secondly I actually quite like Windows 8. There, I have said it publicly. For some reason it still pains me to say that given that I have been a long time Mac user. There are little things on Windows 8 that just work really well and they do make me happy. Two things that I love is the ability to multitask effectively and efficiently. Plus that modern UI and how it almost sandboxes you from the desktop side of things.
The Multitasking implementation, which brings side-by-side windows on one display, is a brilliant concept and deserves praise to whoever envisioned it. The UI is a really nice place to be and it makes your computer more personal in a similar way to Android Tablets and iPads are as well.
Yes, I will concede that it can be jarring when you are kicked from a Modern UI element to the desktop and I feel that this should not have happened, especially in the RT version. However, if you are using the full Windows 8 version then a little bit of tweaking can place that jarring feeling into the history books, especially with the rollout of Windows 8.1.
- The third thing that makes me really comfortable is the interaction, and by this I mean touch. As I mentioned, I have been an avid user of a Mac for some time and I really miss the fact that you can not use a touch screen on a standard Mac. This is why the Surface can really become my main tablet and my laptop as it has a great touch screen.
I’ll be honest. I have not used the stylus in the time I have had the device. I am just concerned that I would lose it. I also find that my fingers are well tuned for touch interaction. This is, in my opinion, the most important thing that MS did with Windows 8, as if they had not done touch then the idea of the Modern UI and desktop would just not work.
The big mistake they did make however was that they made it available on non-touch systems, which is why it has been slated so much. This will apparently be fixed on Windows 10 by the minimisation of Modern UI on systems designed to be a Laptop or desktop first and a Tablet second.
- Last, but by no means least, is the design that has evolved. I love the angularity of it all and the kickstand is just brilliant. I have already mentioned the type cover, but the way it has been made to work with the Surface is just brilliant. I wish Apple or Android tablet builders would look into trying something similar on their models, instead of relying on fugly 3rd party’ solutions.
Obviously there are some issue that need to be sorted with the Surface but none of these are enough to dissipate my enjoyment of the machine as it stands right now.
The biggest issue is still, as it has always been, the severe lack of apps that are available on the Windows Store. Just let me clarify that, it is not the lack of apps as such, it is more that the apps that are there are largely rubbish with just a few exceptions.
Also, I use Google for a lot of my stuff now and you will not find any support for Google apps on the Store, which is crazy. Hopefully now that Microsoft has entered the phones world in a big way we will see improvements in the app situation.
I would also really like 4G as an option as I find it really useful. This can be addressed by using a dongle so it is not the end of the world just rather unsightly.
So would I recommend this to a friend? Yes, but with some proviso’s..
- If they have a need to get real work done and need that keyboard.
- If they can live without the need for every app under the sun.
- If they can afford it (it is too expensive and then you have to buy the Type cover separately! Microsoft,stop taking the piss and bundle it in as it is essential to the experience)
Now just to wait and see what can be done on the smaller form factor that MS are working on.