Archive for the ‘ Operating Systems ’ Category

Unboxing the Surface Pro 2

Last week I purchased the Surface Pro 2 along with the Type 2 keyboard. (See Specs below)  I heard rumors that Microsoft was going to announce a Surface Pro Mini but I didn’t want a tablet with anything less than a 10.6″ screen.  I couldn’t wait for it to arrive so I could set it up just the way I like it and start using it.  The packaging was simple and minimalist, sure to please all the environmentalist out there.

The Surface Pro 2 weighs two pounds and feels very solid. It’s small enough to carry like a book or share space with my laptop in the same bag and large enough to comfortably get some work done or surf the Web comfortably.

The power cord has a built-in USB slot to charge your cell phone or another electronic device while plugged into the outlet.  The other end connects magnetically to the right side of the Surface.  The magnetic connection is a great idea, especially in high traffic areas where the threat of someone tripping on the cord is a possibility.  After a full charge, the battery lasts a respectable 8 plus hours.

I purchased the Type 2 keyboard because I spend countless hours programming, so to me, it’s imperative that it feels like a traditional keyboard.  The keyboard attached as seamless as advertised and when closed, it provides a layer of protection for the touch screen when not in use.

After pressing the power button I was greeted with a screen asking me to enter or create a Microsoft account.  I have a Microsoft account  for my HP ProBook 4540s running Windows 8.1 so I entered it and waited for Windows to complete the setup process.  I was pleasantly surprised to find my desktop and settings were setup exactly the way I have it on my laptop.  All of my apps were there and some required installing which took only a few minutes.

The screen is beautiful, the colors are vivid and the sensitivity of the tough screen is perfect.  The Surface Pro 2 is very responsive whether you’re using an attachable keyboard or the OnScreen Keyboard.  Windows 8.1 makes perfect sense on a touch screen vs the clunky feel that I reported in previous blogs.

The Surface Pro 2 also came with a pen that Microsoft claims to be paired to your specific tablet, right out of the box.  To test this, I opened Fresh Paint and decided to dabble with a few samples that were provided.  I was very impressed with the results.  It has the same length and feel of a ball point pen.  I adapted to it immediately.  For the left handed users out there, myself included, Microsoft has us covered too.  Simply click on the Search charm and type “Hand” then select search result “select which hand you write with” and change the default to Left Handed.

The Bluetooth 4.0 Technology, made connecting my Bluetooth Microsoft Wedge Mouse and my Logitech K810 Bluetooth keyboard effortless.

The volume rocker button feels solid and is conveniently located, on the upper left side of the device and the sound quality from the front facing speakers are very good.  The one and only USB 3.0 port is also located on the left side.

The right side facilitates a Micro SD port, the magnetic power connection and an HD Video Out Port.  (HDMI Cable and adaptor sold separately)

The front and rear are equipped with dual 720p webcams for Skype or taking pictures.  The 720p takes good quality photos even in low light situations.

From the moment I pressed the power button on the top right corner, till the “Logon Screen” appeared, took exactly 5 seconds.  To go from the “Logon Screen” to a fully loaded “Desktop”, ready to rock and roll, took 5 seconds respectively.  The shutdown process took exactly 10 seconds from selecting “Shut Down” till the lighted keyboard turned off.  In comparison, performing the same test on my laptop from the “Power Button” to the Logon Screen” took 16 seconds and from the “Logon Screen” to a fully loaded “Desktop”, ready to rock and roll, took 45 seconds respectively.  That’s a full 51 seconds longer than the Surface Pro 2.  With that said, if I want to surf the Web or check my email, I tend to grab the Surface rather than fire up my laptop.

I would highly recommend the Surface Pro 2 to anyone who is looking for a tablet that can truly replace your laptop computer.

Specs

  • 4th Generation Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB RAM; performs superbly to manage all of your workloads
  • 256GB Storage; stores plenty of files
  • 10.6-inch Full HD 10-point Multi-Touch Display; ensures vibrant visuals and responsive touch functionality
  • Wi-Fi technology; allows stable wireless networking experience
  • Dual 720p webcams; offers instant image and video captures
  • HD Video Out Port; integrates to a bigger screen
  • USB port and Bluetooth 4.0 Technology; ensures clutter-free connections with wireless mice and headsets
  • Dual 2 x 2 MIMO Antennas; allows reliable Internet connections
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Windows 8.1…from a users perspective

Many of my customers ask my advise before buying their next computer.  My advise is based on a how they use their current computer and their future needs.  Some of my customers use their computer just to check email and surf the Web, others use their computers for work related functions such as documents and spreadsheets.  My first question is “Are you looking for a desktop, laptop or a tablet?”  If the customer is looking for a desktop replacement and they don’t have a touch screen, then I would recommend Windows 7, but if a customer is looking for a touch screen laptop or a tablet, then Windows 8.1 would make sense.

I’ve used Windows 8 since it became available as a public beta.  Windows 8.1 is a major improvement to the initial release of Windows 8.0, but the experience on a non-touch screen device versus a touch screen device is like night and day.  I use a laptop for my business projects and I spend a majority of my time programming, so a touch screen computer or tablet is useless to me.  Using Windows 8.1 on a non-touch screen device is a bit…well…clunky.  Steps that previously required two clicks of the mouse now takes three, ie shutting down from the Windows Start button or from the “Charms” bar.

Recently, one of my customers sold her house and moved to the Carolina’s.  Before moving, she wanted to buy a laptop or tablet so she wouldn’t have to be chained to her desk when she wanted to go online.  I was concerned to promote Windows new OS for a few reasons…

  • New OS…most of my senior customers do not like change.  Their philosophy, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
  • Her computer skills are limited
  • Windows 8.1 is radically different from the Windows XP experience that she was used to

As a service to all of my customers, I offered to go with her to Best Buy so she could hold a laptop and tablet in her hands.  I pointed out considerations such a weight, screen size, battery life etc.  After kicking the tires on just about every laptop and tablet they had on display, she decided she wanted the functionality of a full size keyboard that a laptop has to offer when she needs to type a letter and the convenience of a tablet when she just wanted to check her email and surf the Web.  With that said, she purchased the HP Envy x2 that sports a laptop and a tablet all in one.

After setting up the hybrid computer for her specific needs, I was surprised to watch her get around with ease even though she had never been exposed to the new OS.  I decided to kick the tires myself on this touch screen experience.  What I discovered was adapting to Windows 8.1 is less about the age of the user and more about the device they were using it on.  

As more of my customers make the switch to the new OS and devices continue to develop, I will continue to report my findings and their experiences in a future blog.

Windows 8…from an installers perspective

As a computer service company, I have installed Windows on various computers since 2001.  When a reinstall is necessary due to a hard drive failure or upgrade, I can usually count on the customer telling me that they don’t have the restoration CD/DVD’s.  As time went on and PC’s became cheaper and cheaper, new computers, accompanied with physical restoration CD/DVD’s, became a thing of the past.  With that said, I always bring my laptop with me so I could download the OS (operating system) and adjacent drivers from the manufacturer’s Website.

Recently, I have installed Windows 8 on a number of various laptops and desktops from ASUS, Dell, HP and Generic brands alike.  What I’ve experienced during each of these installs, was that my laptop was no longer required to get the job done.  Windows 8, from an installation perspective, just works!  After installing Windows 8, I was able to connect to the Internet and register the product without the need to hunt down drivers for the Ethernet card.  Along with installing the correct Ethernet drivers, Windows 8 installed the proper sound, video, mouse and keyboard drivers as well.  In each and every installation, Windows 8 also installed the correct drivers for the various brands of wired and wireless printers and scanners.

What about Bluetooth connections?  Although my customers Bluetooth devices are limited, my personal collection of Bluetooth connected devices have worked with two notable exceptions.  Since I upgraded from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 8.1 Pro on my laptop and upgraded to Amber on my Nokia Lumia 920, the two devices can no longer communicate with each other via Bluetooth.  This is not a deal breaker because Microsoft Skydrive keeps my files and pictures on the two devices synced at all times.  The second device was a Logitech K810 Keyboard.  Although it works well on my laptop, it doesn’t work with my Nokia Lumia 920.  It’s only fair to mention that when I purchased this particular keyboard, Logitech clearly stated that it does not work with the Nokia Lumia 920.

As time goes on and more customers upgrade to Windows 8.1, my installation experience may change so stay tuned for future blogs.