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Category: Hardware

SurfaceBook

10 reasons why the Surface Book is great for IT Pros

As I mentioned in my little Surface Book review a couple of days ago, I really like the Microsoft Surface Book and it is my daily driver since November 2015. The Surface Book has a lot of reasons why it is a great device, but I want to highlight  some reasons why it is not only a great device for artists, but also for the IT professionals.

The performance is incredible

SurfaceBook

As many of you know I am using my Surface Book for a lot of demos and also testing a lot of stuff. I run Hyper-V on my Windows 10 machine and it is extremely fast. Virtual Machines boot up in just a couple of seconds and if you for example run the new Nano Server in a Virtual Machine, the installation of a new Nano Server Virtual Machine is done in under 3 seconds. If you want to run more Virtual Machines on your device, make sure you get the 16GB RAM model. Not only do you get plenty of power with the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chip, the NVMe SSD disk is blazing fast and can be up to 1TB.

The touchscreen with the pen support is great

Surface Pro and Surface Book

If you have a touch screen machine you just get used to use your fingers while browsing or writing stuff down in OneNote. The pen is just perfect for taking notes or doing presentations or workshops with customers. Since I got my first Surface device, I never really used a whiteboard or something like that. I just used OneNote and a projector to draw and after the meeting I could easily sent the drawings to all the attendees.

Tablet Mode can be handy

Surface Book Tablet Mode

I wouldn’t consider myself as a huge tablet user, but there are several scenarios where you will love the possibility to convert your Surface Pro or Surface Book into a tablet. For my job I travel a lot and I realized, I used the tablet mode a lot while for example being in a plan or train, to just read some stuff or watch movies. This is also really handy if you sit at home in front of the TV or if you are in a hotel room and just wanted to watch some Netflix, before you go to sleep. But there are two other very useful scenarios for me. The first one is while I am doing presentations for customer I use the Surface Pen a lot, but instead of sitting in front of my Surface Book, I can take the keyboard of and walk around while doing the presentation and draw on my Surface. The second one is when I am in a meeting and I want to take handwritten notes, the tablet mode is perfect, I can just use it as a piece of paper, which makes it much more attractive to write on and also I am not hiding behind a computer screen. By the way, the tablet or screen it self is extremely light so even holding it with one hand is great.

Enterprise Security and Windows Hello

Surface Book Windows Hello

Well if you are working and traveling a lot, security is a very important part. Protecting your data using the Surface Book is very easy, since it comes with a TPM 2.0 chip you can encrypt your SSD and all the data stored on. The other thing I really like is the camera supporting face detection using Windows Hello. First I thought this feature is just a nice toy, but hey, I really got used to it, I just open my Surface Book and I get logged in without typing the password.

Battery Life is awesome

When did you get a thing and light device and you didn’t had to worry about battery life for a whole day? With the Surface Pro 3 I was very close to it, but the Surface Book finally gets me trough a whole day without the need to recharge. I get around 8-12 hours of battery life depending on the workload I am running. In the morning I can leave without a power supply and can work the whole day.

The Screen

Surface Book

This is another great feature of the Surface Book, the screen is sharp and the colors are amazing, but this is not the only reason I love the Surface Book screen. The Surface Book comes with a 13.5” PixelSense display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI). This gives you enough space on the screen to get some work done, without making the device to big. Especially the 3:2 aspect ratio is one thing I really like, especially while writing and reading.

Connectivity and accessories

Microsoft also adds a lot of great accessories to the Surface product line. The Surface Book comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports, a full-sized SD card slot, a headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and a Surface Connect port, which allows you to connect the power supply or the Surface Docking station. It also used the latest Wifi and Bluetooth connections to connect wirelessly to networks or devices. The Surface Book comes also with great cameras, stereo microphones and speakers which make the device great for video or voice conference calls. But also the small things you will start to like, for example the additional USB port in the power supply, which allows you to charge other devices like your smartphone or your Microsoft Band, without having to carry another charger.

The Docking Station makes it a great workstation

Surface Book Home Office

If I am at home or in our company office I can connect the Surface Book to the Surface Docking Station, which turns it into a full workstation. At home I use 2 Dell 27” screens using the 2 Mini DisplayPort adapters on the Surface Docking station. I also like the additional USB 3.0 ports you get with the docking station.

Perfect device to travel

Surface Book Travel

The Surface Book and also the Surface Pro are in my opinion some of the best options if you travel a lot. First the devices are light and have a small footprint, so carrying them is easy. But they still have a lot of performance to run some heavy workloads where ever you are, and with the battery life you get, even long flights or long work days are not a problem at all. But what really makes it great, you just need one device, you don’t have to carry a notebook and a tablet to have all the options, you can simply unplug the keyboard and you can go from laptop mode to tablet mode. With Windows 10 owning a 2in1 or 3in1 devices makes even much more fun.

Deliver great presentation using the Wireless Display Adapter

Surface Book Presentation

As I mentioned before, I use the Surface Book for a lot of presentations and workshops. With the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter you can even do this wirelessly, which makes especially workshops more interactive and fun.



Microsoft Display Dock HD-500

First view on the Microsoft Display Dock HD-500 and Windows 10 Continuum for Phones

Some days ago I received my new Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, which is one of the first phones with Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft also created some new cool accessories, such as the Microsoft Display Dock HD-500. The Microsoft Display Dock allows you to connect your Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL using a USB-C cable and adding a keyboard and mouse and connect it to a bigger screen. Windows Universal Apps such as for example, Mail, Outlook, Office, Edge, File Explorer and several others scale up on the connected screen like they would run on a desktop computer running Windows 10. This Windows 10 Mobile feature is called Continuum for Phones and it allows you to use your phone as a desktop PC. This is great for example think about it, you only carry your phone and when you need to do some real work you can connect it to mouse, keyboard and screen and you have a desktop ready to use.

Microsoft Display Dock

Display Dock Connections

The Microsoft Display Dock HD-500 has a USB-C Port for connecting and charging your phone, 1 powered and 2 full-sized USB 2.0 ports to connect keyboard, mouse, USB drives or external drives, a HDMI and a Display-Port for connecting the screen or beamer. The device supports a resolution up to Full HD (1920×1080).

Microsoft Display Dock HD-500 Lumia 950 XL

Continuum for Phones

Continuum for Phones makes it possible to use this feature. Now Continuum for Phone also works wirelessly using Miracast for example with the Microsoft Display Adapter or even using the Xbox One with the Wireless Display App (right now for Preview Members only). You can also connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to your phone, so you can use this feature completely wireless.

Continuum for Phones

Continuum for Phones has also some limitations, right now it only supports Windows Universal Apps and no Win32 apps or old Windows Phone Apps.

Some apps which work with Continuum for Phones:

  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • File Explorer
  • Photos
  • OneNote
  • Excel
  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • Messages
  • Maps
  • MSN Money
  • MSN Sports
  • MSN News
  • Alarm and Clock
  • Groove Music
  • Movies & TV
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Xbox
  • Facebook
  • Fitbit
  • Cortana
  • Camera

I am sure a lot of developers are working on porting apps to the Windows Universal App Platform and make them available on several devices. Continuum for Phones is one of the best examples how Windows 10 and the Windows Universal Apps will improve the Windows Ecosystem. I think for some people and even employees, Windows 10 Mobile phones could replace the desktop PCs, since you have a lot of great Universal Apps for Mail, Office and other Offices tasks. If Microsoft makes a Universal App for Remote Desktop available you can even have a full desktop, with full desktop apps on your phone while docked to a screen. And with the new Mobile device Management options in Windows 10 Mobile, this can be perfectly managed by enterprises. They can also implement the Microsoft Windows Store for Business on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile.



Surface Book

My first impressions of the Surface Book

Last week Microsoft released some of their new device including the Surface Pro 4, the Surface Book and the Microsoft Band. I was one of the lucky few who had the chance to pick up a Surface Book in Las Vegas during the VeeamON Conference. I didn’t really plan to get the Surface Book in the US since it has another keyboard layout, instead I planed to get the Surface Pro 4. But when I had the chance to have a look at the Surface Book I really had to get it. The Surface Book is the first laptop made by Microsoft, and I have to say it is gorgeous and fast! I think this is the fastest machine I have ever owned. The reason for that is not only the new Core i7 processor from Intel or the dedicated Nvidia graphics card, in my opinion the reason for that is also the integrated flash storage which is extrem fast. This factors and some tuning by Microsoft really makes it fast. In the Microsoft Store in Las Vegas they only had one version left, which was the Core i7, 8GB RAM and 256GB Storage version. I really would have loved to get the version with 16GB RAM to run more Hyper-V Virtual Machines, but well I am happy I could at least get one.

Surface Book

I will write a full review later on but let get the quick impressions I could get during the short time I had to use it.

  • The display is amazing, the color and brightness is stunning.
  • The display ratio of  3:2 is perfect, I loved it on the Surface Pro 3 and I love it on the Surface Book. you have much more space to work on.
  •  It is fast, Microsoft was not lying when they said it is fast, this is the fastest machine I ever owned.
  • The detachable screen, which makes it to a tablet is very light, even lighter than a Surface Pro
  • Build quality is great as even better than the Surface Pro 3
  • The keyboard is also some of the best keyboards I have ever used, it feels great to type on.
  • The trackpad is maybe the best trackpad you can find on a Windows laptop
  • Audio Quality is good as well.
  • Detaching the screen from the keyboard is easy but it takes some time, it is not as fast as you could do it with the Surface Pro.
  • Design is just great it looks and feels premium.
  • Windows Hello on Windows 10 which allows you to sign in via face recognition work perfect, even in a dark hotel room. I think I will never sign it using a password 😉
  • The new Surface Pen feels a lot better than the old one, it feels more writing on paper instead of a glass screen than before.
  • There are some minor driver issues for example screen flickering when you install the Hyper-V role, or some battery drain during the sleep time which can be solved by disabling the WiFi connected during sleep (under settings).
  • The screen is a little bit larger than the one on the Surface Pro 3 or Surface Pro 4, which I really like for my daily work machine.
  • I still like the concept of the Surface Pro which allows you to faster switch between notebook and tablet mode. Over the past 3 years I really got used to it by using the Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and the Surface Pro 3. I think I still have to test the Surface Pro 4 which brings the most of the improvements the Surface Book has, including the better screen.

This are my first impression of the Surface Book, if you have any questions just ask it in the comments of this post. I will write a full review after a couple of weeks using it.



Surface Book

Microsoft just announced some awesome Devices

Microsoft just announced some awesome devices at their Windows 10 Devices event in New York. Here is a quick list of the devices Microsoft announced today:

HoloLens

HoloLens

First they showed HoloLens and showed how gaming could look like with HoloLens. Microsoft announced that, the HoloLens Development Editions will be available in Q1 2016 for $3000. Developers can now apply for their HoloLens Developer Editions.

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2

Next up, Microsoft showed the new version of the Microsoft Band, which will be connected to Microsoft Health. The new Microsoft Band 2 comes with a new curved and improved AMOLED screen, it has a battery life of 48 hours, is charged in 1.5 hours and has all the great features the first version of the Microsoft Band already had, like activity tracking, sleep tracking, notifications, GPS and much more. It now also comes with barometer and Cortana integration.

  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • 3-axis accelerometer/gyro
  • Gyrometer
  • GPS
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • UV sensor
  • Capactive sensor
  • Galvanic skin response
  • Microphone
  • Barometer

Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL

Microsoft announced two new Windows Phones or Windows 10 Mobile flagship devices. Finally there is a new Windows Phone flagship which brings amazing features and specs. The Lumia 950 has a 5.2 inch Quad HD and the Lumia 950 XL has a 5.7 inch Quad HD screen. Both phones come with a 20MP PureView camera with Triple LED Natural Flash, UBS-C Type Connector and Fast Charging support which will charge your phone in 30 minutes to 50%. Using a small dock, you can hock up the phone to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, this lets you run Windows Universal Apps like on a PC. Here some more specs and highlights:

Both phones have:

  • Windows 10
  • Camera: 20.0 MP, Natural flash
  • Front-facing Camera: Full HD 5MP wide angle
  • Display: WQHD (2560 x 1440) , AMOLED, ClearBlack
  • 32GB Mass Memory
  • 200GB SD Card slot (up to 2TB)
  • 4G LTE
  • Touchscreen technology: Super sensitive touch
  • Exchangeable back cover
  • Glance screen
    Tactile feedback
    Voice commands
  • Nano SIM
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC (Pairing, Secure NFC payment, sharing, tagging)
  • WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Support for Windows Hello
  • Glance Screen
  • Wireless Charging
  • Fast Charging
  • Continuum for Phones

Lumia 950

 Lumia 950

  • Screen: 5.2 ”, WQHD (2560 x 1440) , AMOLED, ClearBlack
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 808 , Hexa core , 1800 MHz

Lumia 950 XL

Lumia 950 XL

  • Screen: 5.7 ”, WQHD (2560 x 1440) , AMOLED, ClearBlack
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 , Octa core , 2000 MHz

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

Microsoft announced the successor of the Surface Pro 3. The new Surface Pro 4 has kind of the same dimension as the Surface Pro 3 but comes with a 12.3” PixelSense display has extremely high contrast and low glare, giving you a picture rivaling real life. It is not only more powerful and lighter than ever before at 1.69lbs (766 grams) and with with a 6th Gen Intel® Core™ M3, i5, and i7 processors, it’s also quieter and runs cooler than ever before. It will also support a new pen and display technology which is called PixelSense.

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • TPM Chip
  • Processor: 6th Gen Intel® Core™ M3, i5, or i7
  • Memory: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
  • Graphics: M3: Intel® HD graphics 515, i5: Intel® HD graphics 520, i7: Intel® Iris™ graphics
  • Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • Size: 11.50″ x 7.93″ x 0.33″ (292.10mm x 201.42mm x 8.45mm)
  • Weight: M3: 1.69lbs (766 grams), i5: 1.73lbs (786 grams), i7: 1.73lbs (786 grams)
  • Ports: Full-size USB 3.0
    microSD™ card reader
    Headset jack
    Mini DisplayPort
    Cover port
    SurfaceConnect
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope
  • Support for Windows Hello (using Iris Scanner)

Surface Pro 4 Type Cover

Surface Pro 4 Type Cover

Along with the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft also announced the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover in two versions, one without fingerprint reader and one with a fingerprint reader which can be used with the Surface Pro 3. The new Type Cover should have highly improved keys and a larger trackpad. It is also backlit and it is lighter and thinner than the last version.

Surface Pro Docking Station

Surface Dock

Surface Dock instantly transforms your ultraportable Surface into a desktop PC. Simply plug in the SurfaceConnect cable to charge your device and access external monitors, a keyboard, mouse, and more. With two high-definition video ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports, and an audio output, you have all the connections you need. It also works with the Surface Pro 3 and the SurfaceBook.

Surface Book

Surface Book

The “one more thing” Microsoft announced today and which really surprised everybody was the Surface Book. The Surface Bookisthe first full laptop has arrived in the Surface family. Surface Book is a powerful laptop with a full sized, backlit keyboard for fast and natural typing. The 13.5” PixelSense display detaches easily from the keyboard to become a thin, light tablet that works perfectly with OneNote and Surface Pen. Turn the screen around and reattach it to use Surface Book like a creative canvas. By reconnecting it to the keyboard, you unlock its full creative power in a pen first mode. Surface Book is built to be a creative workhorse. Combining a 6th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor with up to 16GB of memory and an optional discrete graphics chip.

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • TPM chip
  • Processor: 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB. SSD
  • Graphics: i5: Intel® HD graphics 520 / i5/i7: NVIDIA GeForce Graphics Processor
  • Screen: 13.5” PixelSense™ display Resolution: 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) Aspect ratio: 3:2 Touch: 10 point multi-touch
  • Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE802.11a/b/g/n compatible Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • Size: 12.30” x 9.14” x 0.51 – 0.90” (312.3mm x 232.1mm x 13.0 – 22.8mm)
  • Weight: Starting at 3.34 pounds (1,516 grams) including keyboard
  • Ports: Two full-size USB 3.0
    Full-size SD™ card reader
    SurfaceConnectTM
    Headset jack
    Mini DisplayPort
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer
  • Support for Windows Hello

As far as I can see there is a lot of good feedback and Microsoft really announced some great devices.



Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop Review

Some days ago I received the new  Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop including the new keyboard and the mouse and I thought why not write a very small review.

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop

I am using the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse for a few days at my home office and I have to say the experience so far is every good. I moved from the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Desktop to the new Designer Bluetooth Desktop, which is quite a change especially the keyboard keys are really different.

The Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop comes with its ultra-thin and modern look. Microsoft did a really good job here in terms of design, it looks very minimalistic but still premium. And it also feels premium, it doesn’t feel like a cheap plastic keyboard. To be honest it even felt more premium than the Sculpt Comfort Desktop, which doesn’t feel cheap at all. Connecting the devices was easy, both the mouse and the keyboard use Bluetooth 4.0 technology to connect to your device, and both are using two AAA batteries.

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop Surface

About the keyboard, for me it is perfect, as already mentioned it feels premium. If you like will like it, depends on if you like the chiclet-style keys or not. If you prefer the classic keys, your are definitely better of using the Sculpt Comfort Desktop instead of this one. But if you like the chiclet-style keys, this is a keyboard you will love. The keyboard gives you a robust typing experience which I like. The keyboard also comes with media keys and some shortcuts for Windows, like search or sharing. The only thing which was kind of difficult for me is the position of the Fn key, since I used the Sculpt Comfort Desktop for a while I was used to have the Windows key directly next to CTRL, which is different on the Designer Bluetooth Keyboard.

 



Windows 10 IoT Web Performance

The Windows 10 IoT Core web interface

If you have successfully installed Windows 10 IoT Core on your IoT device, for exmaple the Raspberry Pi 2, you can browse the device using a web interface to get some more information. If you don’t know the IP address or name of your device you can use the Windows 10 IoT Core Watcher to find your device on the network.

One the web interface you have different kind of options:

Networking

Windows 10 IoT Web Networking

Performance Monitoring

Windows 10 IoT Web Performance

Processes

Windows 10 IoT Web processes

Device Manager

Windows 10 IoT Web Device Manager

AppX Manager

Windows 10 IoT Web AppX Manager

 

 



Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi

Connect the Adafruit 5″ LCD to the Raspberry Pi 2 running Windows 10 IoT Core

First I had connected my TV as an external display for my Raspberry Pi 2 running Windows 10 IoT Core. Since I need the little device for some demos, and I want to take it with me I got a Adafruit 5″ LCD display to connected to the device.

The setup with the display is very easy and just plug and play. Just connect the display to the Raspberry Pi 2 board.

Raspberry Pi 2 LCD Display

But by default the output of the Raspberry Pi 2 is Full HD and so the display setting is kind of wrong. But you change this by editing the config.txt file from the SD card.

Windows 10 IoT Display Config

Just open the SD card and add the folloing lines to the config.txt file. (Source)

Windows 10 IoT Display Config TXT

Now you get the perfect outputfor the 800×480 display. If you want to change the settings while the SD card is in the device it self, you can use PowerShell. Remote connect to the Raspberry Pi 2 using Powershell and navigate to C:\EFIESP and check out the config.txt

You can now set the content of the config.txt file

To have the changes active you have to restart the Windows 10 IoT Core device