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Tag: Surface Pro

Surface Pro 3 with Type Cover

First Impressions of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Over a week ago I finally got my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and I will try to cover my first impressions in this blog post. Two years ago I replaced my notebook with the Surface Pro and one year later I replaced the Surface Pro with the Surface Pro 2. I have used both devices as my primary work devices for work as a consultant, at university and at home. The Surface is the perfect work device since I travel a lot. With the Surface I replaced my notebook, my desktop and my tablet with one single device. I always had one complain about the Surface and this was the screen size. If you travel and you work 8-10 hours in front of a 10-inch screen, you start thinking about a bigger screen. Lucky with the Surface Pro 3 Microsoft changed that. Now the Surface Pro 3 got a 12-inch screen and they also changed the ratio from 16:9 to 3:2 which makes a huge difference in terms of space on the screen. I just love the new screen size, it is absolutely perfect and still not too large for traveling. But let me jump back to the review.

Technical Specifications

Surface Pro 3 Specifications

First of all I got the I7 version with 265GB of storage:

  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Size: 292.1mm x 201.4mm x 9.1mm
  • Weight: 800 grams
  • Screen: 12” ClearType Full HD Plus
  • Resolution: 2160 x 1440
  • Aspect Ratio: 3:2
  • Touch: Multi-touch
  • Battery Life: Up to 9 hours of web browsing
  • Storage and RAM: 64GB or 128GB storage with 4GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB storage with 8GB RAM
  • CPU: 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor family (i3, i5, i7)
  • TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth® 4.0 Low Energy technology
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • microSD™ card reader
  • Headset jack
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Cover port
  • 5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 5.0 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Stereo microphones
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby® sound
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer
  • Surface Pen
  • 36W Power supply

Design and Durability

Surface Pro 3 with Pen

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 and the second generation was already great and the third generation does not stop there. With the Surface Pro 3 Microsoft could finally make the device a lot thinner and than before. The device now has a larger 12-inch screen and a new 3:2 ratio instead of the 16:9 ratio before. This makes a huge difference if you hold the device in portrait mode to read something or browse the web and it also offers you a lot more space on the screen. Another change Microsoft did was to change the color from the dark VaporMg from the Surface Pro line to the silver color of the Surface 2. I am still not sure which color I like more, but both look great to me. After the size and the color the third big change is the new kickstand. The new kickstand does not only offer two position like the Surface Pro 2, you can now put the Surface in any position you want.

As always the build quality of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is just impressive. As a former Apple product user, I am really happy with quality, design and the durability of the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft sends a clear message here 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 3. The Surface Pro 3 is not only thinner as the Surface Pro 2, it is also lighter. The Surface Pro 3 is 9.1mm thin and 800g light, which makes it a lot more portable than most ultrabooks out there but of course heavier than most tablets.

Display and Audio

Surface Pro 3 with Type Cover

For a tablet the display is the key component, and Microsoft did a great job with the Surface Pro 3. I already liked the screen of the Surface Pro 2 but the new screen is just amazing. Not only do I like the new high resolution (2160 x 1440) and the aspect ratio of 3:2, I also love the colors. One of the most underestimated features of the Surface Pro line 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 and PDF files. 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 new pen also adds an OneNote button. If you press the OneNote button once you will open up a new page in OneNote even if the Surface is locked. This feature really helps you if you have an idea you want to write down really quickly. If you press the OneNote button twice you will be able to quickly mark the spot on your screen and quickly take a screenshot and save it to OneNote. This feature is just one of the example where Microsoft brings together there products and services for a better customer experience.

Microsoft again improved the audio on the Surface Pro 3. And it is great if you want to watch a movie in the hotel room and it is pretty much better than on any other notebook or tablet I have used. But still if you are a music lover you better get some headphones or external speakers.

Ports and Internals

macbook-air-surfrace-pro-3

The Surface Pro 3 has full-size USB 3.0, microSDXC card slot, a Headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and at the bottom a Cover port for the Type Cover 3. Of course also the older Covers work perfectly but they just don’t match in size. The position of the ports have changed a little bit from the Surface Pro 2. The great thing here is that Microsoft moved the Mini DisplayPort to the upper right side which allows you now to use that port even you have docked the Surface into your docking station. So you can easily use to 4K displays at the same time.

One the power adapter you get another USB port for charging other devices like your phone, so you can still use your USB 3.0 on the Surface for other things.

Heat and Fan Noise

The Surface Pro 3 comes equipped with a powerful 4th generation Intel i3, i5 or i7 processor. For myself I got the i7 version and if you run some heavy workloads the device gets a little hot. You can feel a little bit of temperature on the back site and you can some fan noise. In normal conditions the Surface stay cold and you can’t here anything from the fan. I think the heat and the fan noise are the result of the new and thinner design.

Wireless

The wireless performance on the Surface Pro 3 seems to be great with no issues or troubles at all. I really can’t wait to get one of the Miracast adapters to stream my display to a beamer or another display.

Type Cover 3

Surface Pro 3 with Type Cover

One of the great features of the Surface product line are the covers. With the Surface Pro 3 Microsoft also released the Type Cover 3 which is basically the successor of the Type Cover 2 and is even thinner. Microsoft are claiming there are a lot of optimizations in Type Cover 3 and the two you will really see are the size which matches the Surface Pro 3 now and the new trackpad. The new trackpad is key here, it is bigger and a lot better than the trackpad of the Type Cover 2. They changed it back to a hard plastic and made it clickable again, which just feels a lot better if you work with it but it does look better than the first version of the Type Cover. The new Type Cover 3 comes with backlit which makes it perfect if you are working low light conditions like the Type Cover 2. 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.  They also added new color options two the lineup, the Type Cover 3 is available in purple, red, blue, cyan and black.

Again the Type Cover is on of the must have accessories if you want to use you Surface as a laptop replacement. It works pretty well with the build in kickstand.

Battery life and Performance

Surface Pro 3 Lumia 930

The first thing I realized when I did start the Surface Pro 3 was that this thing is a screamer. The performance seems to be amazing but since the Surface Pro 3 is using the same generation of Intel chips I don’t think there is a huge difference between CPU performance. I think the key difference could be that Microsoft is using faster SSD storage in the Surface Pro 3 than in the previous generations. Since performance never was an issue for me I still like the new performance boost. With the new core i7 version you should not only get more CPU power, you should also get some more graphics power.

Microsoft is claiming that you get up to 9 hours of battery life, which fore me is a little more than with the Surface Pro 2. In my first test I think I am pretty close to get this 9 hours. But what impresses me even more is the Connected Standby or InstandGo features which allows you to wake up the Surface Pro 3 within an second. In my first tests the I charged the Surface on Friday and worked during Friday, Saturday and Sunday around 7-8 hours and the battery life was okay until late Sunday evening. But to get exact numbers I still have to run some more tests and see how it behaves in day to day usage.

Camera

Finally Microsoft also upgraded the front-facing camera to a 5 megapixel camera like the Surface 2 already had, but the Surface Pro 2 didn’t get. For me this gets even more important if you do a lot of Conference Calls via Lync or Skype for example.

Software and Accessories

Surface Pro 3 Docking Station

Software is where everything comes together. Windows 8.1 works perfectly on the Surface Pro 3 and I really like the mix between touch and keyboard usage. I use it as a tablet with touch apps and can run a full desktop applications like Office to get real work done. I really love the combination of different Microsoft Services such as Skype or Lync for communication. But where the real power comes together is with OneDrive and OneNote. The new Surface Pen and OneNote are already a perfect combination. You can press the OneNote button on the Surface Pen and OneNote opens instantly and you can start taking notes, even if you are not logged. The notes from OneNote get sync via OneDrive on all your devices like your phone or desktop pc. Microsoft is not only bringing software services together, they are now also integrate hardware.

Microsoft also offers a lot of different accessories like display or Ethernet adapters which you just need to work efficiently. But they also offers some great accessories like the Type Cover 3 which allows you to use your Surface Pro 3 together with the built-in kickstand as notebook replacement or the Surface Pro Docking Station which allows you to dock your Surface if you are at the home or in the office and connect automatically to external displays, external hard drives, keyboards and other stuff. This two accessories complete the whole story of the Surface Pro 3.

Conclusion

Surface Pro 3 Docking Station

Now what can you expect from the Surface Pro 3? The Surface Pro 3 is a high class work machine which can transform to different devices such as a tablet or notebook and with the Surface Docking Station you can even replace your desktop. For me the Surface Pro 3 replaced three devices. It replaces my notebook which I need to get work done and I also use it as my tablet at home or when I watch movies on flights or in the hotel. At home I got the Surface Pro 3 docking station which allows me to use two external displays. Of course if you are looking for just a tablet or just something to replace your iPad, the Surface Pro 3 is probably not the right device for you. But if you like to replace your classic notebook and your tablet with one device, the Surface Pro 3 is just the best machine available right now.



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.



OneNote Overview

This is why OneNote is awesome

Well I know I normally blog more about Microsoft Datacenter and Cloud stuff especially Hyper-V and System Center, but I am a huge fan of Microsoft’s Office Suite. I really live in Outlook and Microsoft OneNote. I organize my private life, my work and university stuff in OneNote. I get often ask by customers or friends how I work and how I get things done. In this case I always show them OneNote, which is maybe one of the best keep secrets inside Microsoft. This post shows you why OneNote is awesome and shows you some of the hidden features you didn’t know about.

If you have more hidden features leave a comment on the post.

OneNote Dock to Desktop

OneNote Dock to Desktop Title

With the Dock to Desktop feature you can keep your notes visible by anchoring an OneNote window to the side of your desktop. Your notes will stay on top of your desktop while you are working in other programs.

Dock to Desktop

Linked Note taking

 

OneNote Linked Note Talking

While you are using the Dock to Desktop mode you can enable Linked Note Taking. This will automatically create a link to the page or office document you have open while you have taken note. This is perfect, while I was write a whitepaper for university and I had to do a lot of research I used this feature. While I was write the document I had to mention the sources as foot notes and sometimes it’s hard to find the source of something you have found on the internet. With linked notes I only had to check my nodes and all the sources and references were linked.

 Visio Integration

OneNote Visio Integration

A lot of other Microsoft products to integrate into OneNote. One of them is Visio, if you have Visio installed on our computer you can add an existing Visio diagram to you notes. You can also directly create a new Visio diagram from OneNote and add it to your notes.

(more…)



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.

 



Windows Phone 8 and Surface Bluetooth pairing

Improved Internet Sharing in Windows Phone 8 GDR 3 Update

Today Microsoft released a preview version of the Windows Phone 8 GDR 3 Update which includes some new features like support for better hardware, higher resolution screens, driving mode, screen rotation lock and more. But the best feature for me is the improved internet sharing. Since Windows Phone 7 you could use your Windows Phone to create a Wi-Fi hotspot so you could connect with your tablet or laptop to get internet access. Nothing special, iPhone and Android phones can do the same thing.

Now I am a lot on the road and I use this feature a lot, but the problem was I always had to first take my phone out, enable internet sharing and after that connect with my tablet to the hotspot. With the GDR 3 Update for Windows Phone this has changed. I can now connect with my Windows 8.1 device to the hotspot even, the hotspot is not enabled. This will automatically enable the hotspot and connect my tablet to it.

You can now simply pair your Windows Phone with your Windows 8.1 device via Bluetooth and after that you can make use of this feature.

1. First enable Bluetooth on your Windows Phone and on your Windows 8.1 device. In my case I used my Surface Pro with Windows 8.1.

2. Pair your Windows Phone and your Surface

Windows Phone 8 and Surface Bluetooth pairing

Windows Phone 8 and Surface Bluetooth pairing

3. Now you can see your Windows phone hotspot even it is turn off. By clicking on it the hotspot will be enabled and your device will connect to your hotspot.

Windows Phone 8 and Surface Bluetooth pairing

This is just perfect for us road warriors :) Now I can leave my phone in my bag and just take my Surface out and do some work.