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Category: Surface

Surface Pro 3

My next work machine – Surface Pro 3

I am a Surface Pro user since the first hour, the Surface Pro replaced my laptop. After I got my Surface Pro 2 I replaced my Surface Pro it started to become my daily work machine, which I use for my work, university and at home. With the release of the Surface Pro 2 Microsoft fixed the kickstand and the battery life issues, which really made a huge difference to the first version Surface Pro. My biggest issues with the Surface Pro 2 was the size of the screen. When I worked at university or at a customer the small screen wasn’t really perfect to work for 8 hours. Of course weight and thickness could be better, but for me was never a killer issue, because it was already much lighter and smaller than my laptop. One of the things I liked the most about the Surface Pro was the Pen which was really great for taking notes or during customer workshops.

Yesterday Microsoft announced the new Surface Pro 3 with a lot of great enhancements. The most important changes for me was the screen, they not only made it bigger with a higher resolution, they also changed the ratio from 16:9 to 3:2 which I think makes it even better. I never was  a fan of the 16:9 ratio. Microsoft also made the Surface Pro 3 lighter and thinner than without compromising on performance and battery life.

Surface Pro 3 Specifications

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: Surface Pro 3 292mm x 201.3mm x 9.1mm vs Surface Pro 2 275 x 173 x 13,5 mm which makes it 4.4mm thinner (32%)
  • Weight: Surface Pro 3 800g vs Surface Pro 2 900g which makes it 100g (11%) ligther
  • Screen: 12” ClearType Full HD Plus Resolution: 2160 x 1440 Aspect Ratio: 3:2 Touch: Multi-touch vs a 10,6” Full HD Display on the Surface Pro 2
  • Battery life: up to 9 hours
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB storage with 4GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB storage with 8GB RAM
  • CPU: 4th generation Intel® Core i3, i5 or i7 with TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 Low Energy technology
  • Ports: Full-size USB 3.0, microSD™ card reader, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port
  • Cameras: 5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera and front-facing camera

macbook-air-surfrace-pro-3

 

Microsoft not only released not only the Surface Pro 3 they also released some new accessories for it.

  • New Surface Pro Type Cover which is thinner and got a better and larger track pad
  • New USB Ethernet Adapter with Gigabit Ethernet
  • New Surface Pro Docking station which is larger with more USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet
  • New Power Adapter
  • New Surface Pen which has an even better integration with OneNote and with over 250 levels of pressure sensitivity and Palm Block technology.

Since I am a huge fan of OneNote I really like how the new Surface Pen integrates with OneNote. The new Pen as a “OneNote” button. Pressing the OneNote button opens a new note in OneNote even the Surface is looked. There are even more features but I am sure you just have to try it out.

It is great to see how Microsoft is building this great synergy between products such as their cloud offerings with OneDrive, software products such as OneNote and hardware. This and mainly the larger screen makes the description to upgrade to the Surface Pro 3 very easy.

The Surface Pro 3 will be available in Switzerland in August.



Surface Pro and Nokia Lumia 1020

4 months working and traveling with the Surface Pro 2 and the Nokia Lumia 1020

In October 2013 I got my Surface Pro 2 which replaced my Surface Pro as my daily work device. Some weeks before I also got a Nokia Lumia 1020. In November I had the chance to travel a lot and I want to share some of my impression about this combo. First of all I love the devices from a design and quality view. Both, the Lumia 1020 and the Surface Pro 2 are great devices with a high build quality.

First, the Surface Pro 2 is a perfect machine if you are doing a lot of traveling. I use the Surface Pro 2 as my daily machine for work, university or personal stuff. In November I had the chance to travel a lot and I really enjoy having a really small and light device with me instead of caring a heavy notebook, ultrabook or even an additional tablet. The form factor and the extended battery life makes the Surface Pro 2 is like one device to rule them all. For example I have used the Surface Pro as tablet during long flights to watch movies and videos or at home in front of the TV.

Surface Pro 2

I also used it as notebook replacement for work or at university to take notes. I really love the stylus to draw and highlight things in the slides I printed to OneNote.

Microsoft Surface Pro

I also used my Surface Pro 2 to deliver my presentations and trainings. The stylus and the touchscreen is perfect especially during delivering trainings or in meetings to replace the whiteboard.

Surface Presentation

The second thing I love it the Nokia Lumia 1020. I don’t really own or carry a separate camera, so I use my phone to take pictures. During the presentations I did in Rome, Paris and Berlin I took a lot of pictures and honestly I haven’t owned a better compact camera yet. The quality of the pictures are just amazing.

This are some dedicated features to the devices itself, but what I really love is how they work together using Windows, Windows Phone and Microsoft Online services like SkyDrive (OneDrive). For example I planned and organized all my trips and presentations on my Surface or PC at home and saved everything into an OneNote notebook. The great thing about this is that all this information gets sync across my devices. So for example the e-ticket for my flight shows up on my phone. And even I lose my phone I can still access everything on my Surface or on another PC over the web, which makes it impossible to lose something.

I already mentioned that I took a lot of pictures with my phone. Now the worst thing which could happen, would be losing my phone with all my picture on it. With the Windows Phone SkyDrive integration, pictures get synced over the internet to my SkyDrive and across all of my devices. The same thing is true for my documents and presentation, I never have to think about coping a file from my PC at home to my Surface or something like that. All my files get synced automatically via SkyDrive. This gives me more time to work on my presentations and enjoy the places I can stay.

I really love the devices and I would really hate it if I had to give up on one of them. I think it would make me less productive and of course I would have to carry more stuff like an extra camera, phone, tablet and a notebook. And don’t for get to carry all the power adapters for all those devices. This is another small but great feature of the Surface Pro, the power adapter does not only charge the Surface it also has a USB port, with which you can charge your phone at the same time. I always thinking what could be better and besides lighter and slimmer devices and more battery life (which is always better, even the Surface Pro 2 runs for me mostly more than hours), the only thing I can think of is that I would love to have a Surface Pro with a bigger screen. The screen right now is great, but if you are working with a device for some hours you really start to like bigger screen.



System Center Universe

My 2013

Well another year just ends and as in 2011 and 2012 I like to summarize things a little before starting with the next year. This year was maybe one of the busiest years for me and it was really fun. I had the chance to meet, talk and work with some really great people all over the world, and to list every single one would just be to much, but I want to make sure that everyone knows I am really thankful for that. I am also pretty happy with this year and the goals I reached, and for me everything worked out pretty good. Besides that I am really grateful that most of the people around me, like my friends and family and of course myself, are healthy, because this is something I cannot control and you need a lot of luck for that.

I tried to summarize some of the events and things I had the chance to do in 2013, there was a lot of other stuff going on but I think this does is pretty good.

Switzerland Montreux

2013 was my second year at itnetx gmbh where I am working as a Cloud Architect. Well this job brought me around some of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. And it still feels pretty cool to work in such a great company with so many talented people, know-how and interesting projects.

(more…)



TechDays Basel 2013

Ready for the MVP Global Summit 2013

Only a few hours left until I catch my flight with Marcel Zehner (MVP System Center Datacenter & Cloud Management) to Redmond for the second Microsoft MVP Global Summit this year. With the new product release cycle the Microsoft MVP lead decided to move the MPV Global Summit to the end of the year, and that’s why I am traveling the third time to Redmond this year. Microsoft again invites all MVPs worldwide (approx 4000) for a great week of learning, sharing and networking on the Microsoft Campus.

I am really looking forward to see other Microsoft MVPs and meet the Microsoft Product Groups which have provided so much support with the latest releases.

Also my travel equipment has changed a little since February this year, where I went to the MVP Global Summit for the first time.

MVP Summit Surface Pro 2, Lumia 1020

  • Nokia Lumia 1020 – Not only one of the best Windows Phones I have every used, its also a awesome camera which basically pretty important to me.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2 – Since the beginning of this year I moved from a notebook to a Surface Pro and I have upgraded to a Surface Pro 2 now. And since the battery life of the Surface Pro 2 is now over a day for me, I don’t have to care anything else with me.
  • Microsoft Wegde Mouse Surface Edition – Well a mouse simply makes you more productive.
  • Surface Pro Power Adapter – Something great about the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 is that they both come with a power adapter which also has a USB port to charge my phone.


Surface 2

The new Surface 2

Some days ago I wrote a blog post about my new Surface Pro 2. I not only upgraded my daily work device, I also upgraded my Surface RT which I mostly use at home to browse the web,  read or watch movie sand TV. Microsoft did some cool changes to the next generation Surface.

  • Up to 10 hours battery life
  • a lot more performance
  • The built-in Kickstand now features two positions
  • Full HD display
  • USB 3.0
  • silver option
  • better front and rear camera, perfect for Lync and Skype
  • running Windows RT 8.1
  • includes Office RT with Outlook RT

Surface 2

Here are some of my personal first impressions about the Surface 2:

 

  • Hardware quality – As every Microsoft Surface, the Surface 2 has a perfect build quality and the new color makes it look really nice and does not pick up and fingerprints at the back of the device.
  • Amazing display – The new 10.6 inch ClearType Full HD Display with 5-point multi-touch is basically the same quality as the Surface Pro 2. This is a huge upgrade from the original ClearType HD Display 1366×768 pixels of the Surface RT. Not that the screen of the Surface RT was bad, it was still one of the best screens I have seen but the new Full HD resolution adds a lot of value.
  • New Kick Stand – The new kick stand which can be placed in two different angles is just perfect. As already mentioned in my Surface Pro 2 review, I really love the new position if you on the road and working with the Surface on your lap or on your coffee table.
  • Performance – Microsoft added a new Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and it’s looks like they also replaced the storage with some faster SSD storage which in my opinion make a huge difference. If you have used a Surface RT you may had some performance issues, with the Surface 2 this is totally difference. It’s finally as fast as it has to be, which is perfect work the Windows 8 Apps, browsing the web, watching movies or working with Office.
  • Accessories – The new Type Cover 2 which is thinner as the original type cover and comes with backlit is just great. I will never give this keyboard back.
  • Size and weight – The Surface 2 is also a little thinner and lighter as the Surface RT. It is not a huge difference on the paper but if you are working with it you can feel it and you will definitely like it.
  • Battery life - The battery life of the Surface RT was always great for me, but the Surface 2 should have added even more to it which is not a bad thing.
  • Camera – The new cameras in the Surface 2 are just perfect. I do a lot of Lync and Skype video calls and the improved front camera is perfect for that. Video calls only make sense if you the quality is good, I don’t understand why other vendors still include low resolution cameras.

Surface 2

For me the Surface 2 added some great new things which would make it basically the perfect work device. The performance improvements, the Office Suite with the new added Outlook RT, the new Full HD screen and the awesome battery life would make it the perfect device. But there is still some things which make the Surface Pro 2 for me a better choice. First I really love the digitizer pen which comes with the Surface Pro 2, which allows you to draw and take notes on the device. I also love the new docking station for the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 which are not working with the Surface 2. And the last point for me as a consultant is that I can run Hyper-V. If Microsoft adds a digitizer pen to next generation Surface it will be a hard decision for me.



Surface Pro 2

Surface Pro 2 – My First Impressions

As you may know I am a Surface user from the first moment. I owned a Surface RT, which I basically use at home in the living or bed room to browse the web, read, watch some videos or just listen to music. Since February of this year I also own a Surface Pro which replaced my notebook. I use my Surface Pro every day for work, to deliver presentations, write blog post or articles or at university to take notes.

Last Wednesday my new Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 arrived. In the past days I had some time to work with both devices and replace both devices with the new ones. Of course I cannot really say a lot about devices after only a few days. I have the chance to travel a lot in the next month and I will write a final review about the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 at the end of November.

Surface Pro 2

One of the reasons why I am writing this small review is because I have read a lot of reviews about the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 on the big gadget sites. I was a little confused about the reviews because I think most of them were not really clear and did not really see the real value of the Surface.

I know I am not a professional reviewer and writer, but I am one of the Surface customers who uses these devices day for day and not just for some hours or days to write a review about it. In most of the reviews the Surface gets some bad points for not being a laptop or tablet, and I think that’s true but this is not something bad. This is a new category of devices, people should not think about it as a typical notebook or tablet it’s something different.

Surface Pro 2

Another point a lot of reviewers were complaining is the App ecosystem. I don’t really understand the problem here. Of course there are not as many Apps in the Windows Store as in the Apple App Store but that’s not the only possible way to install Apps. What reviewers don’t see is the huge Application ecosystem it the “classic” Windows Applications you can run and install on the Windows tablets, and this is a huge deal especially for companies which can make all their existing applications available for employees. Of course everybody would love to have the new Windows 8 Apps as their business apps but to rewrite these classic Windows Applications to Windows 8 apps companies need some time and IT normally is really happy if they get some time. And when we talk about quality of Apps and you just take the key applications which would be office then there is no better option than Microsoft Office which is basically better than all alternatives on other platforms.

The third problem a lot of reviews mention is that you still have a desktop and not just Windows 8 Apps. But why should this be a bad thing? I really like to have one device where I can work in both worlds. Sometimes tablet mode is good for some tasks but in other cases you are much more productive on a classic desktop. By offering both worlds Windows and the Surface make me much more productive.

Surface Pro 2

Now lets see about the specs of the Surface Pro I am using:

Technical Specifications

  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Dimensions: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 in
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Casing: VaporMg Dark Titanium
  • Physical buttons: Volume, Power
  • 256GB SSD Storage
  • 8GB RAM
  • 10.6 inch ClearType Full HD Display 1920 x 1080 Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (widescreen) Touch: 10-point multi-touch
  • 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processor
  • TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology
  • Two 720p HD cameras, front and rear-facing
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby® sound
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • microSDXC card reader
  • Headset jack
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Cover port
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer
  • SkyDrive Offer with Purchase: 200GB free storage for two years. Free Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote Web Apps in your browser.
  • Skype Offer with Purchase: One year of Unlimited World calling to landlines in over 60 countries, and unlimited Skype WiFi at over 2 million hotspots.
  • 1-year limited hardware warranty
  • Surface Pen

Design and Durability

Surface Pro 2 vs Surface 2

For me a great device includes three different things, design, features and a great eco system for applications and accessories. And this was one of the reason why I was a Apple user for a long time, because they offered great design, great hardware features and they had an ecosystem were software and hardware worked perfectly together.  Microsoft does not disappoint with the Surface line, the first generation was already great and the second generation does not stop there. The design of the Surface Pro 2 did not really change, it basically looks the same as the Surface Pro. The chassis has still the same size and is made of the VaporMg which looks great. But Microsoft did change the kickstand to have a second position so the angle of the display in front of you can have two positions. This should make it better if you are using it on your lap. After I have seen this in the Surface 2 keynote I was not sure if this really solves the problem. But after trying this I have to say this works perfectly.  I can now work with the Surface Pro on my lab, outdoors, in trains or if I have just a small coffee table in front of me.

The build quality of the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is just impressive. As a former Apple product user, I am really happy with quality, design and the durability of the Surface Pro 2. Microsoft sends here a clear message to his partners and competitors, about quality of tablets and notebooks. Everything seems to be at the right place and all buttons and the whole chassis is feeling very “high-class”. I really like the size and dimensions of the Surface Pro. The Surface Pro is around 0.53 inches or 13.5mm thin and is 2 lbs or 900g light. I was using a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 for a long time until I got my first Surface Pro and I have to say that there is still a hug difference in terms of portability between the Surface Pro and the most ultra books.

I can only find one problem, I am using the device as my primary device on the road and if I am working on a customer site, most of the time I get a screen to plug my notebook or Surface in. But in some cases this is not possible and working 8-10 hours in front of a 10-inch screen is not really fun. So I would really love to see a 12 or 13-inch Surface in the future.

Display and Audio

Surface Pro 2

The Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2 has the best screen I have ever used. The Surface Pro 2 10.6 inch ClearType Full HD (1920 x 1080) display adds 45% more color accuracy to the screen if you compare it to the Surface Pro screen. I cannot really see a difference because for me the Surface Pro screen was already amazing, but for graphic designers and photographers this should be a big deal. I don’t really have to mention that the 10-point multi-touch display just works perfectly.

One of the most underestimated features of the Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2 is the integrated digitizer pen, which allows you to use digital Ink. The Surface Pro comes with a digitizer pen which is perfect to take notes with OneNote and other stuff. As I mentioned I am using the Surface Pro at work and at university. At university I am using the pen mostly to take notes and mark some important stuff in documents. At work I am not only using it to take notes, it’s also great during workshops or presentation, where you quickly want to draw something instead of using a whiteboard or a flipchart. And for all iPad or Android users, this is not just a normal Pen which buses capacitive touch, which basically is just a simulated finger, this is a digitizer pen which only works with special displays and for example offers pressure sensitivity and automatically deactivates touch input during your writing so you can place your hand on the screen.

The Audio on the Surface Pro was not bad but it wasn’t good, Microsoft adds Dolby to the Surface Pro 2 speakers which make the sound quality a lot better. It’s better than on pretty much all notebooks and tablets I have seen, but still if you love sound you should maybe use some great headphones or external speakers.

Ports and Internals

Surface Pro 2

Microsoft offers some different options when it comes to ports. The Surface Pro 2 has Full-size USB 3.0, microSDXC card slot, a Headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and at the bottom a Cover port for the options like the Touch, Power or Type Cover. The position of the ports are the same as on the Surface Pro, so you can use the new announced docking station for both, the Surface Pro and the Surface Pro two.

Heat and Fan Noise

The Surface Pro 2 comes equipped with a powerful 4th generation Intel i5 processor but even when running some 1080p flash movies or converting some movies it does not really get hot. You can feel a little bit of temperature on the back site but this not hot. And even if you run some of this heavy workloads you can not hear any fan noise.

Wireless

The wireless performance of the Surface Pro 2 is just great. I never had any issues or bad performance.

Type Cover 2

Type Cover 2

One of the great new features is the new Type Cover 2. I really liked the Type Cover 1 which was a good keyboard. The new Type Cover 2 comes with backlit which makes it perfect if you are working low light conditions. The backlighting is automatic and turns of if you are not using it. If your hover over the keyboard with your hand, the Type Cover will automatically turn on the light again. Another change is the size, Microsoft made the Type Cover 2 even thinner and they made the distance you need to press a key to get it to respond even shorter, which makes it an even more comfortable type and quicker experience. They also added new color options two the lineup, the Type Cover 2 is available in purple, magenta, cyan and black.

Type Cover 2

The Type Cover 2 also has a wider trackpad uses now the same material the Touch Cover is using instead of this hard plastic. This makes it not just feel a lot better than the first generation Type Cover, it also adds a more elegant look to it. Overall the Type Cover 2 is a very nice upgrade for new and old Surface customers.

Battery life and Performance

Well performance was never a problem with the Surface Pro but Microsoft said it did even add 25% more performance and 50% more graphic performance to the Surface Pro 2. And that’s not a lie. The Surface Pro 2 is just lightning fast and it maybe the most powerful machine I have used so far. Of course if you are a graphic designer there are options with more graphic power with dedicated graphic cards, but the question is, do you really need more performance. For me this thing is a beast.

Microsoft promises 75% longer battery life with the Surface Pro 2 if you compare it to the first generation Surface Pro. In my tests the Surface Pro 2 does really great. During a normal work day I could use the Surface Pro for about 5-6 hours with the Surface Pro 2 I got for the same workloads around 10-11 hours.

Software

The Surface Pro 2 ships with Windows 8.1 Pro which is in my opinion the most productive operating system available at this time. Together with Office 365 or Office 2013 this makes it the perfect work machine. For me the main applications are OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Lync, RDP and some of the integrated Windows 8.1 apps like Xbox Music or Skype. Especially to have both worlds, the tablet and the desktop world together in one system is just perfect. There are a lot of tasks which are great to do on a tablet and touch optimized apps, but there are also some tasks which are easier if you can use the mouse, keyboard and standard desktop apps. Windows 8.1 brings both worlds together and makes the same experience available on every device. If you are using a Windows Phone, a Windows tablet, a notebook, a desktop or with the Xbox on your TV you always get the same experience. And with SkyDrive all your documents, photos, videos and settings are synced over all your devices. This makes life much easier, in my case I can just sit in front of one of my devices and work without having to worry about coping files.

Accessories and Offers

SkyDrive

With the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 Microsoft not only included some great offers like 200GB SkyDrive Storage and 1 year unlimited Skype calls, the also made some great accessories available. Besides the next generation Touch and Type Cover they also offer a new Power Cover which extends battery life of your Surface.

  • Type Cover 2
  • Touch Cover 2
  • Power Cover
  • Surface Docking Station
  • Microsoft Arc Mouse Surface Edition
  • USB Ethernet Adapter
  • Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA
  • Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI
  • Car charger with USB port
  • Surface Pro Pen

Conclusion

Surface Pro 2

Well the Surface Pro was already my main device, with the Surface Pro 2 upgrade Microsoft improved the device and made it even better. The most important point being the battery life, with the Surface Pro 2 I get around 10-11 hours on a normal work day, which is just amazing. The other big thing I really love about the Surface Pro 2 is the new kickstand, as mentioned I didn’t really think about this as a big improvement at first, but it definitely is. Is not only better on your lap, I also like the new position if I am working with the Surface Pro 2 on a normal desk or on a coffee table.

 



Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition

Yesterday Microsoft announced the new Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 with different accessories. Microsoft did also announce the Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition which will be the perfect mouse if you are traveling. I was using the original Arc Touch Mouse all the time until I changed from my notebook to the Surface Pro, because the original Arc Touch Mouse had a wireless connection which used a USB receiver and the Surface Pro only had one USB port. So when I was using the Arc Touch Mouse I couldn’t use another USB device like a Ethernet adapter or a USB flash drive.
The new Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition not only comes in the Surface design, the mouse also uses Bluetooth to connect to the Surface/notebook, and this does solve another issue.