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Surface Book

My Surface Book User Review

A couple of months ago I got a myself a Surface Book while I was in the US. You may know that I am a Surface user for a long time now. I started with the original Surface Pro, upgraded to the Surface Pro 2 and the Surface Pro 3, which was my main device for the last year. Microsoft announced the Surface Book together with the Surface Pro 4, the new Microsoft Band 2 and the Lumia 950 as well as the Lumia 950 XL.

The Surface Book is the first laptop Microsoft has ever created and Microsoft doesn’t call it the ultimate laptop for no reason. I have used the Surface Book now for the past months while I was traveling, giving presentations, working at customer sites or at home writing blog posts. With that I got a great impression of the Surface Book in the real world, not just reviewing it for a couplnowe of hours, as other tech sites do, this is more kind of a real user review.

Technical Specifications

Surface Book Box

  • Software: Windows 10 Pro
  • Exterior: Casing: Magnesium, Color: Silver, Physical buttons: Volume, Power
  • Dimensions: 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
  • Storage: Solid state drive (SSD) options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB.
  • Display: Screen: 13.5” PixelSense™ display
  • Resolution: 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI)
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Touch: 10 point multi-touch
  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours of video playback4
  • Processor: 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
  • Graphics i5: Intel® HD graphics 520, i5/i7: NVIDIA GeForce GPU with 1GB GDDR5 memory
  • Security: TPM chip for enterprise security
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
  • Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • Ports: Two full-size USB 3.0, Full-size SD™ card reader, SurfaceConnectTM, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPort
  • Cameras: Windows Hello face-authentication camera (front-facing), 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video, 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video
  • Audio: Stereo microphones, Stereo speakers with Dolby® audio
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer

I got the Intel Core i7 version with 8GB memory and 256GB of storage. To be honest, if I had the choice I would get the smallest Core i5 version with a dedicated graphics card or the Core i7 version with 16GB of memory.

Design and Durability

Surface Pro and Surface Book

As always Microsoft did build a great piece of hardware in terms of design and build quality. As the Surface Pro 3 and the whole Surface line the Surface Book is really high quality. I really like to work with it.

Display and Audio

Surface Book Traveling

What I really like about the Surface product line are the displays. First of all, the quality is pretty good, but what is even more important for me is the 3:2 ratio. With that you get a lot more space on the screen to get work done. This especially helps when you are doing some writing or get some mails done. The Surface Book comes with a 13.5 inch screen which is just a little bit bigger than the Surface Pro 4, and this is one if the main reasons I got myself the Surface Book instead of the Surface Pro. Especially on if you are on the road and the device is not docked, a bigger screen can make a huge difference.

Audio and especially the microphones work every well and have a very good quality if you are doing Skype or other conference calls.

Heat and Fan Noise

If you were owner of a Surface Pro 3 you might had some issues with fan noise and the Surface Pro 3 could get very hot. I am running the Intel Core i7 version of the Surface Book and I don’t have any issues in terms of heat of fan noise. The Surface Book runs very quiet and cool, I never really heard the fan, even when I run some heavy workloads like virtual machines.

Wireless and Networking

Surface Book Travel

Wireless and network connectivity are as usual pretty great, no issues here. If you want to use a wired connection you have to buy a USB to Ethernet adapter, since the Surface Book does not have a build in Ethernet port, but this isn’t a real problem.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard and the trackpad are amazing, I think this is the best keyboard and trackpad combination I have ever used. Typing feels really good even if you have to write lager documents or blog posts. Of course the keyboard has also backlight which makes it great if you have to write something in a dark hotel room.

Tablet Mode

Surface Book Tablet Mode

With the tablet mode you can easily detach the screen from the keyboard so you can use it as a very light tablet. The tablet is really light, even lighter than the Surface Pro and has up to 4 hours of battery life. As cool as the tablet mode for some people may is, I basically never use it. I use the pen and the touch screen a lot, but I never really detach the keyboard from it. This is kind of different than the Surface Pro, where I detached the Type Cover a lot and just place it somewhere using the kickstand, since the Surface Book does not have a kickstand you really have to hold it all the time, and I just don’t have a use case for this.

Battery life and Performance

Performance and battery life is where the Surface Book really starts to shine. Especially in terms of disk performance using an internal NVMe disk, the Surface Book is amazingly fast. I got the version with an Intel Core i7, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card. Next time I would choose the larger version with more memory and storage but at this time in November last year it was the only configuration which was available.

Battery life is also not an issue, I get around 8-12h of battery life when I am on the road. This is enough for a full day of work.

Software and Accessories

Surface Book Home Office Surface Dock

The Surface Book comes with Windows 10 Pro, and as I mentioned I really like Windows 10. I am running the latest Windows Insider builds and the work most of the time great. Performance is really good and one thing I always loved about the Surface was the Surface Pen. I am not an artist, but I use the pen a lot in workshops with customers, instead of using it a whiteboard or to take notes in OneNote.

At home I dock the Surface Book to the Surface Dock where I have two 27-inch screens, which makes it a fully functional desktop.

Conclusion

As you can see I am really happy with the device I am using for around 7 months. The only thing which makes me want a Surface Pro again is the size. The Surface Pro with the Type Cover is much more mobile, especially when you are traveling a lot by plane or train. Otherwise the Surface Book is the perfect device.



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.



Surface 3 Starbucks

My Microsoft Surface 3 Review

A couple of weeks ago I got myself a Microsoft Surface 3 as a secondary device to my Surface Pro 3. While I am totally happy with my Surface Pro 3 as my daily driver on the road, in the office or at home, I wanted a secondary device for home tablet use and to showcase some new Windows 10 scenarios with Azure Active Directory and Office 365 integration. I got some tweets from some user who wanted to know my feedback on the device and so here is a small review:

Technical Specifications

Surface 3 Specs

  • Size 10.52″ x 7.36″ x 0.34″ (267mm x 187mm x 8.7mm)
  • Weight 1.37 lbs (622g)
  • Display 10.8” ClearType Full HD Plus Display Resolution: 1920 x 1280 Aspect ratio: 3:2 10 point multi-touch
  • Surface Pen support
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours of video playback
  • RAM/Storage 2GB RAM with 64GB storage & 4GB RAM with 128GB storage
  • Processor Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • microSD card reader
  • Micro USB charging port
  • Headset jack
  • Cover port
  • Software Windows 8.1
  • 1-year of Office 365 Personal with OneDrive cloud storage
  • 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus
  • Microphone
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby® audio
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Proximity sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer

I got the smallest version with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Design and Durability

Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3

Microsoft did it again, if you expect any sacrifices on design, quality and durability you are wrong. The Surface 3 comes, like the Surface Pro 3 with great design and great built quality. The Surface 3 comes with a 10 inch screen, the Surface Pro 3 comes with a 12 inch screen, but both have a 3:2 aspect ratio which I really like for getting stuff done. With that you can also use it in portrait mode without any problems.

The difference between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 is the size and performance. With that, the Surface 3 is designed to be used as a tablet. And you can feel that, the size and especially the weight is made for tablet usage. The Surface 3 is just 200 grams lighter than the Surface Pro 3 which is just enough to hold the tablet in one or to hands for awhile without getting tired arms. This is also handy if you are doing some writing using the Surface Pen.

Again, everything seems to be at the right place and all buttons and the whole chassis is feeling very “high-class”.

Display and Audio

If you think you get any sacrifices on display quality or audio, you are wrong again. The Surface 3 comes with a stunning display, very bright and good color quality, in some scenario, the display even feels brighter than the Surface Pro 3. Now the biggest surprise of the device was the audio quality, this is maybe the best audio quality I every had from a tablet. If you have used other tablets including the iPad or Surface 2, you know that audio quality wasn’t bad, but it was far from being good. The Surface 3 has changed this, of course it is still not somethings music enthusiast will really use, but if you want to watch House of Cards on Netflix the speakers are loud and clear.

The other big pictures here is the Surface Pen support. As the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 does support the Surface Pen, not like the Surface 2. This is great to take notes using OneNote and use it as a notebook, especially if you wake up in the middle of the night and have a great idea you can use the Surface Pen and the OneNote button to quickly open an new OneNote page.

Ports and Internals

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. 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 2. The Surface 3 does also have a new power port in form of a micro USB port, instead of the magnetic power port of the Surface 2 or Surface Pro 3. This is great so you can use every charger, even the one from your phone. But to be honest you don’t really want to do this, because the charging speed using a phone charger is very slow. And on the other hand you lose the magnetic adapter safety feature.

Heat and Fan Noise

The Surface 3 comes equipped with Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and I had never had any issues with heat or fan noise. To be honest, I am not even sure the Surface 3 has a fan. But on the other side, the workloads you are running on the Surface 3 are not even close as powerful as the applications you run on the Surface Pro 3.

Type Cover

Surface 3 Type Cover

The Surface 3 also comes with an own Type Cover in the right size. Microsoft also improved the Type Cover from the Type Cover 3 which you got with the Surface Pro 3, even you can not really see it directly. Especially the keys feel much better, which make it a perfect typing machine. I am sure with the next release of the Surface Pro comes out, the improvements in the Type Cover for the Surface 3 will be included in that as well.

Battery life and Performance

Surface 3 IE

I think this is the most important part for most of the people reading this review. First, the performance of the Surface 3 is a lot better than the performance of the Surface 2 and the same goes for battery life. But for the same the Surface Pro 3 performance is much better compare to the Surface 3. But this was clear right? The Surface 3 is designed as a tablet with light usage for office apps and some other apps as well, and the Surface 3 handles that just fine. The Surface Pro 3 is design as a powerful notebook replacement which is a total different story, so if you are looking on a powerful machine you should go with the Surface Pro 3, if you need something thin and light to use as a tablet and Office usage, you will definitely be happy with the Surface 3. As I mentioned I got the smallest version with only 2GB of RAM, and this is my real bottleneck if you are doing multitasking. So if you are expecting to do any real multitasking you should go for the 4GB version. The other performance bottleneck is the disk speed, this is a huge difference to the Surface Pro 3 as well, but to be honest for the things I use the Surface 3 for, I don’t really care.

Camera

Microsoft also upgraded the back-facing camera to a 8 megapixel camera which is even better than the Surface Pro 3. So you can do some simple but good shots with the tablet. But of course this never comes close to your Nokia Lumia.

Software and Accessories

Surface 3

Software is where everything comes together. Windows 8.1 works perfectly on the Surface 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 Skype for Business 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.

After the first 2 weeks I upgraded the Surface 3 to Windows 10, and I have to say the new tablet mode works perfectly, performance of the Surface 3 with Windows 10 is great.

Microsoft also offers a lot of different accessories like display or Ethernet adapters for the Surface Pro line and they will now also work with the Surface 3. You can use the same USB Ethernet Adapter or Mini Display Port adapter as for the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft also released a new docking station for the Surface 3, which helps you make the Surface 3 also a desktop replacement.

Conclusion

Well if you have to choose between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 you really have to consider what the devices are designed for. The Surface Pro 3 can be the tablet which is your powerful laptop and desktop replacement. The Surface 3 is more your lightweight tablet which also can be your laptop if you only need it of light Office usage. So if size and weight matter to you, and you don’t need great performance you should go for the Surface 3. But if you need any performance you may want to go with the Surface Pro 3, even the i3 version has much more power than the Surface 3. Another thing here is, if you want to go with the Surface 3, I really recommend you to spend that extra money and go with the 4GB model.



What is in my bag for Microsoft Ignite

What’s in my bag for Microsoft Ignite 2015

In a couple of hours I will catch my flight to Chicago with the rest of the itnetx team to join Microsoft Ignite 2015. I am really looking forward to it and meet other enthusiast around Microsoft Cloud solutions and of course meeting with members of the Microsoft Product Group.

What is in my bag for Microsoft Ignite

  • My main devices is of course the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 which I use as my 3-in-1 device, replacing my notebook, tablet and desktop using the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station. Of course it is running the latest Microsoft Windows 10 Insider Preview. Battery life I get is around 8 hours depending on what I am doing I get even some more.
  • As my day to day phone I use the Nokia Lumia 930, which is just a perfect device with a great camera to take picture from the place I travel to and listen to music.
  • Even I like the track pad of the new Surface Pro 3 Type Cover I think I am more productive using a mouse. For that I got the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition.
  • I also got some Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Audio Headphones to listen to music. I really like them because the audio is great and they are really light and comfortable to wear and the active noise canceling works just great, especially on long flights. The integrated microphone is also pretty important to to Lync or Skype for Business calls.
  • When I am at a hotel and I am working or writing some blog post I love to listen to music. For that I use the Nokia MD-12 wireless Bluetooth speaker.
  • To get some extra power if I need it I use the Nokia DC-18 portable Micro USB Charger and a Microsoft Portable Power DC-21.
  • Of course I am also carrying the Microsoft Band which helps me tracks the steps I walk during Microsoft Ignite and the limited sleep I get during this event.
  • For presentations I got a Microsoft Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI and VGA adapter as well as the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter which acts as a Miracast Receiver and is great for presentations.
  • I also carry a USB 3.0, but I don’t use a portable hard drive anymore, since I got unlimited storage space on my OneDrive using Office 365.
  • You might think to charge all these devices I need a lot of different power adapters, well that’s not really true. I just use power adapter of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 which also has a USB port for charging the phone, speaker and other stuff.

I am really looking forward to Ignite and meet some of you in Chicago.



Microsoft Windows 10 January Event

What’s next for Windows 10

Microsoft yesterday held the January event about the next generation of Windows and showed some great new features of Windows 10. If you have watched the Windows 10 webcast, you have seen that Microsoft announced and showed a lot of new stuff yesterday. In this post I do a quick summary about this Windows 10 event. Spoiler alert, since this was a consumer event, there were no news about Windows Server or System Center.

Windows as a Service

Well the first great news yesterday was that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade in the first year for Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 7 users. After that Microsoft tries to keep the install base very up-to-date to make it easier for developers to develop and deploy new apps to customers.

New Windows 10 Experience

Windows 10 Expierence

Joe Belfiore demoed some great new features and the experience you get with new Windows 10. One of the great things you will see that there will be just one version of Windows 10, everything should be one platform. He also demoed the new Action Center and the new Start menu.

Continuum Mode

Windows10 Continuum

Continuum Mode was announced back in September. Continuum helps two-in-one devices to switch between different modes such as desktop mode with mouse and keyboard and tablet mode using touch input. So you always get the best experience when using the device.

Cortana

Windows 10 Phone Laptop Cortana

Another big news was the release of Cortana for Windows. Cortana is the personal digital assistant you already know from Windows Phone. Microsoft also showed some great improvements and how Cortana can make your life easier.

Windows 10 for phones

Windows 10 Phone

Microsoft also announced that Windows 10 will be coming to phones and small tablets.

New Browser

Windows 10 Spartan

Microsoft officially showed a new browser called Project Spartan, which will bring the latest web standard to the Microsoft web platform and some other cool features like digital inking and Cortana integration.

New universal applications

Windows 10 Universal Apps

Microsoft bring several universal apps to the Windows 10 platform like a great new Photo, Video or Music apps. This apps are running across several devices such as phones, tablets, desktops, TVs and the Xbox One.

Office universal apps

Windows 10 Universal Office

Not only Windows integrated apps are coming as universal apps, Microsoft is also releasing a touch-friendly version of Office as universal app which will run Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint across different devices types.

Xbox app

Windows 10 Xbox App

Microsoft also demoed a new Xbox app on Windows 10. The Xbox App will allow you to get your Xbox experience to Windows 10. This will bring multiplayer across devices (PC and Xbox One), Game DVR, Game streaming (from Xbox One to PC) and DirectX 12.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens

One of the biggest things Microsoft announced yesterday was the Microsoft HoloLens which is the world’s first holographic computing platform. With Windows 10, holograms are Windows universal apps and Windows universal apps can work as holograms, making it possible to place three-dimensional holograms in the world around you to communicate, create and explore in a manner that is far more personal and human.

Surface Hub

Surface Hub

Microsoft yesterday not only announced a new device called HoloLens, they also announced a new device called Surface Hub, which is basically a 84-inch touch screen with multi-touch and multi pen input, including Skype for Business and some great whiteboard technology.

Feedback is really important

Windows Insider

Microsoft did talk a lot about the Windows Insider Program and the feedback they are getting from a lot of people around the world.

 

Some facts

  • The next Windows 10 Preview will be available next week
  • Project Spartan will not be included in the next preview release
  • The first Preview for Windows 10 for Phones will be available in February
  • HoloLens will be released in the Windows 10 timeframe

 



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.