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 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.
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 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.