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back to article 'Daddy, can I use the BLACK iPAD?': Life with the Surface Pro 2

“Daddy, can I use the black iPad?” my four-year-old daughter asks as she spots the Surface Pro 2 I'm reviewing for The Reg. She has, without knowing it, encapsulated Microsoft's problem on Surface in a nutshell. I’d been passing the Surface Pro 2 around to friends and family at a weekend gathering to garner their feedback. …

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Really good article enjoyed it. I tend to agree with the last guy that had a go on it. Unless im docking it into another monitor then its just to small to get my work done on it (not sure if i can dock it?). Its like the 11 inch mac air, too small again.

13 inch is as small as i would go tbh, I sometimes find my 15 inch laptop to small if I don’t have access to another monitor.

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"13 inch is as small as i would go"

Interesting. Intel research suggested 13" was a serious sales inhibitor on Ultrabooks and pushed for 14-15" devices back in 2012 (which didn't cause a magical sales increase in any case). There really does seem to be a minimum screen size expected for a work device.

Microsoft have ignored that and put a PC in a toy tablet form factor without considering whether that makes any sense. They really shouldn't have tried so hard to blur the difference between RT and Pro devices or the niches they're expected to occupy and the correct form factors for each of those niches. MS weren't wrong to spend all those years deriding 10" iPad as a 'toy' so why package a supposed working tool in a similar form?

[After being spoiled by a 15" 4:3 1400x1050 laptop I find even 15" WS ones restricting. Even my main 2048x1152 display is beginning to feel small...]

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Docking it

There is a mini displayport socket that can be used with the appropriate adapter to connect it to a monitor. The adapters will presumably be the same ones that work with all recent Macs.

There is also a USB port that can be used to attach a keyboard and mouse, or bluetooth if you want to use wireless versions of them.

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Anonymous Coward

I just saw my very first Surface in the wild yesterday. Some poor sod was trying to use it on his lap at the mall. The kickstand was perched precariously on his knee and he was hunched way over trying to see the tiny screen. He was sitting very, very still, presumably because the device would have fallen over otherwise. It looked EXTREMELY awkward. He obviously would have been 10 times better off with an actual laptop. I was annoyed that Microsoft had inflicted such a poor product on this man, but I guess it's partially his fault for buying it, too.

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LDS
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I use one and it's not "extremely awkward" at all. It's top heavy, sure, and you need to be a little more careful, but it doesn't warm your legs like a laptop may do.

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Re: "13 inch is as small as i would go"

Microsoft had to make a big 'to do' about the pro versions over the RT versions since the 'pro' versions are Intel based and will load and run apps already on the market( x86 based ). They could have disallowed all existing apps on any MS tablet but then they don't have many so they'd surely lose there. And all this stems from being so late to market with viable mobile OS( remember WinCE based Windows Mobile and Phone 7 ). They even massively harmed Nokia by selling them on Windows Phone 7 and then pulling the rug out with Windows Phone 8 a year or so later.

they are just too late to the party and marketing is reaching for any straw they can find. Their only possible way back is to spend 10s of billions and subsidize them to the point of shipping them in magazines.

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I have a surface pro and it's pretty stable 'perched' on my legs. Nor do I need to hunch over it to use it.

I don't just use it for 'basic consumption' either, I've done about 60 hours worth of software development using visual studio on it.

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Your lying! I use visual studio every day for my job and there is no way to use it with a mouse, and a serious amount of ram to do serious work. So you are just plain lying

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Re: "13 inch is as small as i would go"

You forgot "it also runs all the popular malware and monthly security updates for the endless bugs pre-installed by Microsoft"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "13 inch is as small as i would go"

An 11" screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio for any serious work is laughable.

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we will get some

because we have a software that runs only on windows and are looking for something as light as possible.

After reading this I doubt if the people who have to use this will like it.

I am about the only one who does not need that piece of software and I run a mix of debian (laptop) and mint (ultra portable vaio) and everyone who I have put in front of my laptops are mad about how fast everything goes compared to the windows version (same vaio hardware).

I am really thinking about making everything dual boot (linux for if you need to do some work) Windows if you are using the windows only software with clients.

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Re: we will get some

Windows Terminal Services? Install the Windows app that they MUST run on a Windows server and share it out. You need an RDP client on whatever environment you chose, but the clients don't need to be Windows any more and can be as small and light as you want (Microsoft do an official client for the iPad for example).

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LDS
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Re: we will get some

Terminal Services means you need to be always connected (beyond the cost of licenses), and need hardware powerful enough to support all concurrent users. If you need to work disconnected and on your local machine Terminal Server can't help you. And some apps may be a pain to use remotely.

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Re: we will get some

If you're restricted to an office then who cares about needing to be permanently connected. If you're out and about then you'll want a cellular modem anyway (and can get one built into tablets).

Unless the software is some kind of monster CPU/RAM hog then you don't need to be very far up the modern hardware scale to support multiple users on one server these days (you can even manage on a desktop box with Windows Server installed).

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Re: we will get some

that would mean a whole lot of hardware reqs and software licenses and then all the support for those. With all that, why not just VirtualBox or VMware to run the version of Windows already on the hardware just to run those few apps. No extra hardware to pay for or support, minimal costs and might be able to save a wad on virus protection licenses given GNU/Linux would be the main OS on the systems. And doesn't VMWare have some kind of windowing mode so the Windows apps run on the desktop and not inside of a Windows Desktop VM(ie boot to the Windows desktop and then start the app)?

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LDS
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Re: we will get some

Give a look to data roaming costs... And you can't work while flying...

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft is late on tablets

Microsoft is late on tablets that may be of interest to people

There, fixed it for you.

I had a boss who thought he was the bee's knees with his HP Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Primitive, but a long time before the iPad.

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Re: Microsoft is late on tablets

Right there in the product name is the mistake they keep making: "Tablet PC"

People are happily buying tablets. Less of them are still buying PCs. But almost no-one is trying to buy a 'Tablet PC', they didn't in the past and don't seem interested in the present.

How many times do Microsoft have to repeat the same mistake before learning?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft is late on tablets

They had an ebook reader they were working on too, it didn't use Windows as the OS. Bill Gates reviewed it and said he wanted the Windows GUI on it as people won't know how to use it otherwise.

He's never been much of a visionary has he?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft is late on tablets

"Having the old familiar Windows UI translates as lack of vision"

"Having a completely new UI (Win 8) gets poor reviews/sales 'cause the interface is not what people are used to"

Make up your mind, AC 19:05 and other Linux advocates! Oh well, haters gonna hate.

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Re: Microsoft is late on tablets

Two different use cases.

One works for laptops/PCs, the other works for tablets, phones, and Ebook readers.

Trying to make PCs and laptops act like tablets and phones, or vice versa, just doesn't work.

The good people at Microsoft are unable to Grok that point.

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Re: Microsoft is late on tablets

No, the point the guy made totally stands.

A desktop GUI is pretty bad for a touch only device.

A touch interface is pretty bad for a desktop interface (mouse + keyboard).

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Wrong comparison

When comparing weight and portability it has to be compared with the MacBook Air, not the Pro.

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Re: Wrong comparison

Quite, and the weight for the 11" is a fraction over 1kg, with 1.35kg for the 13".

I also note a glossing over of third-party application availability for the Surface - I would expect to see a review encompass testing with a minimum of applications such as Evernote and Skype as well as functional applications such as email, an eBook reader, music (how DO you play music on a Surface?) and photos.

I am somewhat surprised in that I actually did enjoy this review. Well researched and well written - definitely a departure from the normal El Reg 'Jasper' style of Bawl n' Scrawl.

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Re: Wrong comparison

If you're going to make a comparison that is remotely like-for-like then I don't think many people would really compare a Windows tablet any Mac OS X laptop. As such I don't see too many Mac owners suddenly deciding to swap out for a Windows tablet regardless of how powerful it is.

On the other hand I can see people swapping a Windows laptop for a fully featured Windows tablet in droves! It just makes sense to have that additional flexibility. The problem with that is it cannibalises Microsoft's own market and that of its partners...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong comparison

@Julian A surface pro 2 (which this is a review of) runs all the same software as any other windows 8 computer - because that's what it is. A computer. If it was a review of the Surface Pro (and this is another problem with Microsoft's marketing - the confusion between RT and Pro) then your argument around glossing over third party apps would be valid.

Pretty sure there are tens of millions of third party apps for windows.

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Re: Wrong comparison

For the Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2, anything that works on Windows 8.1 works on it. Maybe there are a few things that need more memory, a bigger hard drive or a better graphics card, but other than that, you have an Intel i5 PC with 4 or 8GB of RAM, intel graphics, and whatever sized SSD hard drive you choose. Anything that works on that spec PC will work on it.

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Re: Wrong comparison

> If it was a review of the Surface Pro (and this is another problem with Microsoft's marketing - the confusion between RT and Pro)

A confusion that you seem to have added to.

> Pretty sure there are tens of millions of third party apps for windows.

Almost none of which as usable on a touch tablet*.

* They may be almost usable with stylus and keyboard, but then you would be much better off with a proper laptop for those applications (not 'apps') rather than something that is not usable on one's lap, nor usable in pure touch tablet form for those.

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Re: Wrong comparison

Maybe. But you're not going to get a Mac person to switch to Pc... Ever. Especially if they already have one.

You're also not going to get a business person to be interested if your only selling point is "it's as good as a Macbook air". Because business folks don't give a sh1te about Macs. A Mac is what their kids use, not them.

These devices are wrong on so many levels it's not even worth arguing over.

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My main use case for getting a surface 2 would be playing Windows games! No way in hell I'd use it for work, rather have an ultrabook or ideally a fullsize keyboard and dual monitors. As android and ios games gradually get better the use case for buying one of these is rapidly diminishing for me.. and at £719 it was never going to happen anyway!

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LDS
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This is not a machine for gaming - it wasn't designed as such. You can attach an external monitor and a full sized keyboard to a Surface Pro (there's also a docking station available soon, if you need it).

I still prefer a desktop PC and external monitors when I'm at my desk - but a Surface is really small yet useful while on the road.

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It would never be my primary gaming system, I was thinking more of this scenario:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2013/07/10

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Anonymous Coward

unhelpful review

The first page of the article seems a bit mixed up about Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 (e.g. the linked comparison compares the Surface 2 to iPad Air.).

No mention about the low resolution rear facing camera on the Pro (unusable for most imaging applications and far worse than cheap tablets), a useful review should cover features like this.

For most users, the entry level 64GB model will have insufficient space once a few applications are installed would have been nice to read something about this rather than the overall tone of negativity with few facts.

Does 'Alex' own a tablet?

I'd be more interested in 8" or 13" models so its unfortunate Microsoft are taking so long to flesh out the Surface product line.

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Re: unhelpful review

Completely agree.

Surface 2 = iPad competitor

Surface Pro 2 = MacBook Air competitor

Different markets, different prices

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unhelpful review

"No mention about the low resolution rear facing camera on the Pro (unusable for most imaging applications")

Who in their right mind would use something as heavy and unwieldy as a large book for doing things such as taking pictures, or in imitation of a flatbed scanner?

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Re: unhelpful review

"Surface 2 = failed iPad competitor

Surface Pro 2 = failed MacBook Air competitor"

Fixed that for you.

Not that Apple are unassailable - far from it, with the likes of Samsung, Lenovo, Google, Amazon, and others all putting up real alternatives, depending on your budget and spec needs.

But this is silly money for what is basically an Office machine. And anyone who wants Office - still - is going to want real a bigger screen and likely a better keyboard.

MS haven't realised the most likely response to 'But it does Office!' isn't rapturous orgasmic spurting joy, but 'And...?'

Hide it under WinClown 8.x and you have a sure loser. (See also > $1 billion lost already, etc.)

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Re: unhelpful review

Can we ban the "There, fixed it for you?" please. It;s the forum equivalant of 'No, YOUR Mum smells'

If you've got something to say, say it don't arse around changing one word at a time. Its not big and it's not clever.

OR

"It is Big and it is clever" There fixed it for you. See what I mean?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unhelpful review

"Who in their right mind would use something as heavy and unwieldy as a large book for doing things such as taking pictures, or in imitation of a flatbed scanner?"

Once you have PC or tablet software that can do interesting things with camera input, its a whole new world compared with older fixed function scanners and cameras where we are forced to rely on what image processing the vendor has been gracious enough to give us in firmware etc.

If you lack the imagination to see what possibilities are opened up or the knowledge about what is being done already, little I can say here beyond saying in a few years time the photography/imaging landscape will look far different to what it is now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unhelpful review

"Who in their right mind would use something as heavy and unwieldy as a large book for doing things such as taking pictures, or in imitation of a flatbed scanner?"

I kid you not: I was at a GIG a few weeks ago, stood near the back as it was damn loud and my tinnitus is bad enough already thank you, and there was a woman there who kept taking an iPad out of her shoulder bag and recording bits of the show. As I was stood a few feet behind her it was quite distracting to see this little TV screen of what I was trying to watch for real.

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Re: unhelpful review

Not to mention all the tourists I see around london using iPads to take pictures of London Eye, Tower Bridge etc

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Re: unhelpful review

"Not to mention all the tourists..."

Does that prove the point or disprove it? The quality of the camera is naught if the next thing is to process the photo and make it look like it was taken on a Polaroid camera in 1976.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unhelpful review

I would suggest that instead of trying to hold a half-kilo of tablet up to the target one should use your mobile phone's camera and your cloud provider of choice to put the image on the tablet.

(Though Microsoft would probably rather you use a Nokia and Skydrive by preference)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unhelpful review

"But this is silly money for what is basically an Office machine...MS haven't realised the most likely response to 'But it does Office!' isn't rapturous orgasmic spurting joy, but 'And...?'"

OOOOh ok no need to mention that you can use Photoshop, Visual Studio, CAD, FTP, sync you ipod or iphone and not to mention use stuff like Tradestation. With all that dullhead name calling i bet you have a pc at your house what you fail to realize is the sruface pro is that pc in your bag and that there are plenty of people that do not want to carry a behemoth laptop with a 13+ inch screen in their bag that needs to be unfolded on lap in order to do anything.

"anyone who wants Office - still - is going to want real a bigger screen and likely a better keyboard."

umm keyboard it has is more then fine for on the go, you can use any keyboard at home or the office. Bigger screen is nice but again not on the road, plug it in when you are at a desk and use any screen you want. In a few years the black boarders will go away and you have your self a 13inch screen on the surface. But i bet you will still be saying is "it is basically an Office machine", its not your fault i get it office is the only thing you use on the pc, in your case just stick with the ipad exclusively.

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Re: unhelpful review

and your cloud provider of choice to put the image on the tablet.

Bluetooth not working any more? This isn't an Apple device, you know.

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Re: unhelpful review

People looking at it think it looks like an iPad, and expect it to work like one. That is the point the article was making.

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Re: unhelpful review

I can't comment on the "right mind" part, but I see people all the time using their iPads as cameras.

I suppose for video it gives more stability than a phone, but they don't usually seem the sort that would understand that.

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Re: unhelpful review

> Once you have PC or tablet software that can do interesting things with camera input

I have a Panasonic camera with WiFi and can link to it with my tablet or phone and drive the zoom, set focus point, and take pictures remotely. It can download to the tablet for post processing or upload to web sites. For taking movies the tablet can be used to follow focus.

It doesn't work with Windows, RT or WP though.

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LDS
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Re: unhelpful review

Silly people's mother is always pregnant... never found anything more uncomfortable to take pictures than a tablet. It has all the disadvantages of old large format handheld cameras, and none of the advantages.

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Re: unhelpful review

>>>OOOOh ok no need to mention that you can use Photoshop, Visual Studio, CAD, FTP, sync you ipod or iphone and not to mention use stuff like Tradestation. With all that dullhead name calling i bet you have a pc at your house what you fail to realize is the sruface pro is that pc in your bag

Like an 11in laptop, not to many wanted those either. Instead you've got an expensive cloth as a keyboard... wow, progress.,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unhelpful review

I had been looking at the Surface Pro 2 recently but decided against it for the Lenovo Yoga pro 2. while it is larger than the surface if functions as a laptop or tablet, has a great screen and a very good keyboard. Makes a much better device for a "Road Warrior" than the surface. Still learning the nuances of Win 8.1. Had also looked at the mac book Pro retina 13" but would have to install Windows so why the bother & I really lke the touch screen and multiple positions you can use the Yoga in.

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