Tag: Notebook

Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

Surface Go – My first Impressions and why I bought it!

I just received my Microsoft Surface Go. Yes, in Switzerland it was released just now, a couple of weeks after the US. The first review videos out there, did convince me that this is the right device I was looking for, but more to that later. In this short blog I want to give you a look at my first impressions of the Surface Go.

Why I bought the Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go

First, let me tell you why I bought the Surface Go. I am a long time Microsoft Surface user, since the first Surface Pro. I went to several iteration of the Surface family and currently I am using a 15-inch Surface Book 2 and a Surface Pro. Surface Book 2, I like because of the power and screen size, and it is perfect for me to do some serious work. The Surface Pro is more less my light travel work devices to day.

As you know I spend a lot of time travelling at conferences or to customer for meetings. Every weight and space I can safe during traveling is basically a great thing. A lightweight device for doing some simple work like mail, browsing the web or working with office would be enough for most of the tasks. Another tasks I need my device a lot for is taking notes. Since I started to use OneNote, I never took notes on paper again. Most of my note taking I do with the Surface Pen. Especially during meetings, it is much nicer to take notes on an almost flat surface, instead of hiding behind a laptop. The Surface Pro and the Surface Go are prefect for this, since with the kickstand. They let you switch easily from taking notes with a pen, to using the keyboard.

Benefits I expect from the Surface Go

I think the Surface Go would have all these requirements and benefits:

  • Lightweight and small
  • Surface Pen support
  • Full Windows 10
  • Touchscreen and Keyboard with trackpad support
  • Great built quality like other Microsoft Surface Devices
  • Enough power to still do some simple work
  • LTE to be always connect

I know the Surface Go LTE version, comes later this year. I think this would be perfect, but with conference and travel season coming up, I didn’t want to wait. Let’s see if I upgrade later to the Surface Go LTE version. These always connected devices running Windows 10, cannot come soon enough.

My first impressions of the Surface Go

Surface Go Kickstand

Let’s talk about my first impressions of the Microsoft Surface Go. The most important part is obviously the formfactor. The Surface Go is crazy small and light. It really feels great in the hand and it seems to be the right size for a small and light travel device. It is almost cute if you put it to the 15inch Surface Book 2. The build quality is great as expected from Microsoft Surface hardware. The performance feels great for the tasks I am looking for. Microsoft Edge and Outlook and the other office apps feel fast and responsive.

The Surface Go also comes with a Surface Connect Charger, which is a great magnetic charging port. With that it can also easily connect with the Surface Dock and power my external monitor. However, the Surface Go also has a USB Type-C Port, and you can also charge the devices using a UBS charger.

I also got the Signature Type Cover, which is a smaller version of the Type Cover which comes with the Surface Pro. It is small but typing feels great. It takes only a quick moment to get used to it. Great is the huge glass trackpad which on the Type Cover.

Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

I think this is the first Windows tablet I really can use as a tablet. With the size and weight, it is ideal to also use it as a tablet. For example the Surface Pro is only a little bit larger, but it makes a huge difference when you want to use it as a “portable tablet”. I found myself using Windows 10 in tablet mode a lot, and using the Surface Go in landscape and portrait mode.

Audio quality seems to be very good for a device in that price category. And the front facing stereo speakers make the difference to other tablets.

What I also really like is the great quality cameras which Microsoft has build in. If you record videos or if you do Skype for Business Calls and video meetings, the quality is way better than other tablets or even notebooks.

These were my first impressions of the Surface Go. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about it



Surface Book 2

My First Impressions of the Surface Book 2

Last week I got my early (or late) Christmas gift to myself. The Microsoft Surface Book 2 15-inch version was finally shipping to Switzerland. The 13-inch version of the Surface Book 2, was already available last year. I am a long time Surface user, since I got my first Surface and my first Surface Pro back in 2012. As you might remember I got a new Surface Pro 2017 as a new company device, back in July 2017. I picked the Surface Pro as a replacement for my Surface Book which I used quite a while and I am very happy with it. It is a light and mobile device, perfect when you are traveling. I think the new Surface Pro with LTE would even be better if you are on the road.

However, one thing I always knew, was that I am more productive with a larger screen. Even the 13” Surface Book, made a huge difference against the 12” Surface Pro. The thing is simple, it is mobility versus screen real estate. I am often working on the go, which means I like the mobility. On the other hand I am also working a couple of hours on the device with no extra screens. Having some extra space on the mobile device, makes me more productive.

Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro

When Microsoft announced the new Surface Book 2 13-inch and 15-inch, I knew I want a 15” version. It would give me more screen real estate, more productivity, paired with the Surface quality and design. The combination of a 15” screen in a 3:2 aspect ratio, together with a touch screen and pen support, will provide you with the best possible work setup.

The Surface Book 2 also comes with some performance improvements. With the higher end models, you get new 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, which will provide you with the necessary performance. For me, these performance improvements are a nice addition, but not the reason I would upgrade. If you are a creator, designer, editor, you might highly benefit from the additional graphics performance. However, Microsoft also updated the disk to a faster NVMe SSD, and this you can see and feel in your day-to-day tasks.

Surface Book 2 – First Impressions

I haven’t used the Surface Book 2 long enough for a full review, but I want to share my first impressions.

  • Hardware and build quality are amazing as for all the Surface devices, no surprises here.
  • Performance improvements from the 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor, and the NVMe SSD are great. They are helping a lot if you are running Docker containers and Hyper-V on your machine. I can also imagine if you are doing graphic intensive work, you also benefit heavily from the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060.
  • The amazing 15” PixelSense display with the 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of  3240 x 2160 is just stunning and really makes a difference if you need screen real estate. The quality of the display is also amazing and you can switch between “Enhanced Mode” and sRGB. And as always I am very happy with the Surface Pen support.
  • Yes you can still detach the screen from the keyboard to use it as a giant 15” tablet.
  • Microsoft now includes 2 x USB type-A (version 3.1 Gen 1), 1 x USB type-C (version 3.1 Gen 1 with USB Power Delivery revision 3.0), 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 x Surface Connect ports, Full-size SDXC card reader. The only thing missing is the Thunderbolt port, but to be honest I never missed it before, but of course it would be nice to have it.
  • Of course the Surface Book 2 15” version is huge if you compare it to the Surface Pro or the Surface Laptop. With 1.9kg also heavier, but with the performance improvements, battery life and the larger screen, what else can you expect. However, if you undock the screen from the keyboard, the tablet part is still very light.
  • It also provides you with the necessary modern Wi-Fi standards a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology and built-in Xbox Wireless for the 15-inch version.
  • Since I am using it only since a couple of days, I cannot really talk about battery life. Microsoft claims up to 17 hours of video playback. To be honest the first Surface Book was already very good in terms of battery life. I think, with the Surface Book 2 I will make it trough a day.
  • Of course it also ships with a Windows Hello face authentication camera. A 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video and a 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video.

Overall my first impression of the Surface Book 2 is amazing. The Surface Book 2 is the laptop I was waiting for, for a long time. I think this is the best notebook I have ever owned. Are you owning one, or thinking about buying one for yourself? Let me know in the comments.

 



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 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 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.