Hey, Microsoft! Over here! Pick me!

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the new Microsoft Surface Pro (after the disappointing introduction of the lesser Surface RT) and so have been doing my due diligence by looking at its reviews since its recent release. It seems that many reviews have claimed the Surface Pro as an innovative design but complain about storage, battery life and weight. Okay, I get the battery life complaint–it’s too short. But not because my friends’ iPads or Android tablets get upwards to 10 hours, but because as a laptop, I want longer life. As a laptop–not an iPad or Android Tablet. Having said that, though, my current Toshiba Satellite tops out at about 4 hours, so even there, the Pro is an improvement. Weight is the other factor that these reviews seem to like to compare to the tablet devices–that since it’s heavier than the iPad, its use as a tablet is questionable. Since when did 2 pounds become “too heavy”? I’m sorry, but I’ve played around with an iPad as well as Android Tablets. Just because they are lighter doesn’t make them more useful. I’ve seen some nice apps on these devices, don’t get me wrong (reading an ebook on the Kindle Fire HD is beautiful), but as far as productivity apps like word processing or spreadsheets go, no thanks; I need a device that works with my workflow habits rather than forcing me to conform to it. It’s the software and the hardware. And so far, although I know a number of people who have really made a go at using tablets as primary devices, none of them have succeeded.That is, they still have their Mac or Windows desktops and laptops. And admit it:  how many of us, during that time just before the iPad first came out, dreamed longingly of a world where we could do everything on a tablet?  Though the iPad iterations as well as the host of Android tablets continue to be beautiful,  they have yet to come even close to fulfilling this dream.

Although this reviewer does talk up some of the good points about the Pro, it’s a great example of how many of the reviewers are not quite getting the desire for such a device by people like myself:

“The Surface Pro “suffers from trying to be too many things and not being good at any of them,” commented Carl Howe, a research vice president at the Yankee Group.”

Oh really?

I teach in a university and tote my laptop around with me everywhere I go. I receive student assignments as well as send feedback via Moodle. However, I would also like to handwrite on the documents rather than highlighting my comments or using Microsoft’s comment tools (handwritten notes tend to be much shorter, thereby helping me spend much less time on a single student’s assignment). Tablet mode to the rescue! Typing up assignments and papers or doing research, all using a real keyboard? Laptop mode to the rescue!

The fact that I can use the Surface Pro as a tablet as a more friendly way to consume media such as video or ebooks, or use it as a fully functional and powered laptop to do actual work, gives me great joy.

It seems to me that it’s not that Microsoft doesn’t know who the Surface Pro’s audience is, but that the reviewers don’t. If the reviewers want to really give an accurate comparison, they should be looking at the PC Tablets that have been around since around 2000. I was ecstatic when these first came out. However, they never became cheaper nor did their specs come close to a “real” laptop’s specs (meaning underpowered and little storage). The Surface Pro on the other hand, seems like it could change that. Although it’s battery life is dismal, it’s more than on par compared to the PC Tablets.

One review, from the Verge, did point out a problem with the kickstand not being adjustable nor good on one’s actual lap. How many people actually use their laptops directly on their laps, though? Though there have been one or two occasions in recent memory where I had to do this, I almost always use either a laptop cooling pad, or a clip-board that fits easily in my backpack with my laptop. But an adjustable kickstand would be smart–after all, even when sitting at a desk, I want to adjust my device rather than my chair or desk.

Gdgt.com’s review was one of the more honest with itself when it came to what they made of the different  device:  “CONCLUSION: We’re mixed”

I’m not saying that this is the perfect device (yet), but it’s a whole lot closer to the machine I want for my work and personal life than any other device currently out there. So Microsoft, here I am:  your audience! I’ve been waiting for this device a long time. Although I may wait a little longer just because I typically don’t buy first generation devices, I hope you will wait for me!

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