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Like many of the people who will read this blog post, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to purchase a Microsoft Surface tablet. I will admit I had some mixed feelings about Windows 8 given I had been using both the developer and consumer previews as my daily OS on my laptop. There were things I really loved about Windows 8 and others I couldn’t understand why Microsoft chose to go the direction they did. Much to my surprise, my first week with Surface changed any preconceived ideas about where I thought Microsoft had dropped the ball. Using my Surface device has not only been convenient, but a lot of fun. I’m actually writing this blog post using Microsoft Word on my Surface device.

The Basics

The Surface I purchased was the 32GB version. The hardware is solid and the screen is even better than expected. The casing (also known as VaporMag) feels really strong. I actually believe the device could withstand the drop impact as shown at the Launch Event.

One of the biggest concerns I had prior to purchasing a Surface was the ability to sit the device in your lap and work. Sure the tray table on a plane is convenient, but what about the times I’m sitting in a lobby of some office building and want to respond to a couple of emails? Surprisingly enough, the Surface’s kickstand allows the device to sit in my lap comfortably.

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Touch Cover

Everything Microsoft said, demonstrated, and led you to believe about Touch Cover is true. I’m sitting here at this moment using it to type this blog post. I will admit it takes a little getting used to initially but after a few hours of usage, my typing speed is pretty comparable to that of a real keyboard. I occasionally do miss a key or not press hard enough to trigger a keystroke. The best part about Touch Cover is that it’s super thin and feels just like a cover for the Surface device. Microsoft also wasn’t kidding when they said Touch Cover clicks into place without error when connecting to the Surface device. I have actually tried to make the magnets misalign a couple of times and have been unable to do so.

Skype and Lync for Modern UI

Skype and Lync were the first Windows 8 Modern UI apps I installed. Both are great examples of taking traditional apps and turning them into very touch friendly products. I’ve been using the Lync app on a pretty regular basis for IM and voice calls. Some of the controls are kinda hidden at first but after you get a good understanding of how Modern UI works, the various options are easy to find. Like the Lync client, Skype provides all of the standard Skype features including video capabilities. I used this for the first time the other night calling my parents over Skype.

 

Mail and Calendar

The Mail and Calendar apps are pretty basic. They look and feel a lot like previous Live products. This is enough to "get the job done" for now, but I will look forward to seeing some good 3rd party developed apps to give me a more Outlook type functionality. As an alternative, I’ve been using Outlook Web App and it works great on Surface.

 

Xbox SmartGlass

Xbox SmartGlass definitely gets a thumbs up in the coolness factor category. SmartGlass allows you to seamless transfer music or videos playing on you Surface to the television via your Xbox. Start watching a movie on your Surface in the backyard, then walk into your living room and transfer the movie to your TV.

 

What about the Apps?

Given Windows 8/Surface have only been on the market for a week or two now, it’s fair enough to say there is much need for some essential apps to be released. My biggest needs at the moment are an Outlook email/calendar type app as well as Facebook and TripIt apps.

So there you have it. My quick review of Microsoft Surface. As long as the apps keep coming, I will continue to keep loving this device.

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