surface pro 3

Here’s a hardware feature that doesn’t receive much publicity but which I’ve come to heavily appreciate: the Surface Pro’s AC adapter. The main reason is the USB slot on the adapter itself.

Whenever I travel, I don’t like carrying more than one plug converter and feel bad asking for more from the hotel — the USB slot on the power adapter solves that. The AC adapter charges the Surface and the USB slot simultaneously charges my smartphone, and it seems to charge just as quickly as it would normally.

Genius feature! If it gets shouted about enough, hopefully other manufacturers will follow.

 

One of the best things about the Surface Pro 3 is its pen. It’s changed the way I take notes, brainstorm and review PDFs. As useful as the pen is, however, I can’t help but think its implementation in Windows is a half-measure.

Currently, the pen’s behavior is different depending on where you use it. In the operating system parts of Windows and in programs like Word, the pen is a mouse replacement. Then in certain apps like OneNote, it acts like a pen that you can draw with. You can mark up PDF files, but not JPG or DOC files.

This specificity is fine for knowledgeable users, but for casual users it’s confusing to remember what the pen can be used for where. If there’s no clear sense how a tool will be used, chances are it won’t be.

For the pen to ever have mainstream adoption, it should be used consistently no matter where you are, like the mouse or keyboard. Ideally, you should be able to write, draw and mark-up with the pen everywhere. The pen doesn’t ever need to be a mouse replacement.

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Along with the Nexus Player, which disappointed, Google’s Nexus 9 was also recently released and reviewed. It’s been described as having an OK display; good but not jaw dropping performance; above average speakers; nice feel but with small, noticeable flaws; and generally not something that beats the iPad given its $400 price. Lollipop is awesome as expected.

That’s all well and good, but there are two things about the Nexus 9 I was particularly interested in from an industry point of view:

  1. The Nexus 9’s size and weight
  2. Its dedicated keyboard cover

Is the 9-inch display the best of two worlds, or the worst? Is the Nexus 9 an appreciably good productivity device?

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Now that I have the Surface Pro 3, my Surface 2 has been gathering dust. So it is with sadness that I finally put it up for sale. The Surface 2 was a wonderful device that exceeded my expectations.

It got me thinking about the Surface line. It’s a great device, yet did so poorly in the perception game. What could Microsoft have done differently with a mulligan?

When the Surface RT was announced, hell had frozen over. Microsoft haters and fans actually agreed on something, that the Surface had no future because of Windows RT. What’s the point of a device that has the limitations of Windows (no tablet apps) and none of its strengths (no PC apps)?

So I got the Surface Pro. With time, however, I realized I only did three things with it: 1) browse the Internet, 2) play media and 3) work with Office. If not for Office, I wouldn’t even need the desktop. Moreover, the Pro was just too thick and heavy.

That’s how I arrived at the Surface 2. The Surface 2 fulfills those three needs well and in an amazingly portable form factor too. It was also a lot cheaper!

What if Microsoft had just branded the Surface as an Office device? Office was (is) the only reason to get a Windows RT device, so why not just go all in on that fact?

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Microsoft released strong quarterly results, which showed good growth in cloud, server and devices.

Last month, we predicted that Microsoft sold about $2 billion worth of Surface Pro 3s at retail over the past three, three-and-a-half months. So the interesting number in the quarterly report is the Surface recording $908 million in revenue for Microsoft.

That may look like we’re way off, but it actually might be pretty close.

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting some interesting Apple rumors:

  1. The existence of 12.9-inch iPad Air Pro (now delayed to early 2015)
  2. The existence of a new, 12-inch MacBook Air (production starts this December)
  3. The continued struggle to make enough iPhone 6 Plus supply, a factor that no doubt contributes to the popularity of the easier-to-get iPhone 6

Think about that for a second. Apple is going to release a tablet with a bigger screen than the newest generation of its most popular laptop!

It looks like Apple just might share my vision for a large, light, 15-inch tablet that can be used for work and play and that will prove to be the single most popular computing device.

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I’ve always liked these kinds of stories on other tech blogs — i.e., what gadgets nerds use on a daily basis — as it gave a “bottom line” that individual reviews of products on loan can’t give. So today I’m sharing what I use and carry, and why.

Smartwatch: Pebble, Moto 360

The Pebble is a great device. Its super solid in a way that Apple is known for; it does what it’s supposed to and it does it well. There are lots of interesting watch faces for it, the battery lasts for days, and it’s good for monitoring notifications and incoming calls. The main downsides are that it’s not particularly attractive or comfortable to wear. The screen has no color and is very low resolution.

I also recently got the Moto 360. A review will go up this Monday or the following Monday, depending on how the weekend goes.

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I have the Chromecast and some things are awesome on it. Unfortunately, it’s a limited device in that strictly speaking, the Chromecast doesn’t mirror content, it streams from the web. This means that outside of a few phones, you can’t project games to your TV, which I’ve argued could disrupt the games industry. It also means you can’t project your PowerPoint presentation to the TV.

That changes with Microsoft’s Wireless Display Adapter (awful, awful name). It uses the Miracast standard to mirror your Windows and Android devices to the TV so you don’t even need Wi-Fi to make it work. Check out the video to see how Microsoft wants you to use it:

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I used to work in management consulting. We’d travel overseas on Mondays, do work at the client site over the week and return on Fridays. Rinse, repeat, month after month. It was hard to maintain friendships back home this way, and when you’re alone in a foreign city, there wasn’t much else to do but work.

Work consisted of three things: White boarding to brainstorm and debate; Excel spreadsheets, which sometimes got so large and complex we had to turn off the automatic updating of cells; and huge PowerPoint files that could be the client’s 3-year strategic plan.

To do that, we lugged a 15-inch laptop everywhere we went. I don’t know how heavy my bag weighed with the laptop, power adaptor and all the printed files we’d invariably need, but it was like a ton of bricks. Consider how much walking we did in airports, hotels and offices — it was gruelling.

This is a long lead-in for a Surface Pro 3 (SP3) review, but you can see where this is going. For someone working in that kind of job, an SP3 would have been a godsend. It would have changed the quality of my life in a meaningful way, and that is why I always believed in Microsoft’s vision for the Surface.

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