• Monday , 1 May 2017

The Tablet Wars

surface-pro-4-vs-surface-book-970-80 T here’s a new war going on in the personal computer market right now.  Tablets were a craze that started to die out as their novelty wore off.  However, the latest in tablet technology involves tablets that are basically fully functioning computers – the tablet hybrid.  These new hybrids take advantage of the tablet’s ease of use, touch screen, and portability while offering a fully featured operating system.  The reason that tablets didn’t really take off was their crippled operating systems – these were a turnoff for the true power user.

The biggest player in this new market right now is actually Microsoft.  The Surface line has been around for several years, but it really only started to pick up steam with the Surface Pro 3, and now the latest Surface Pro 4 models have put the company squarely in the heart of this new market.  And the new Surface Book is truly a unique concept that hasn’t really been done yet, a true laptop with a removable screen that turns into a tablet.

The Surface line is Microsoft’s answer to the very popular Macbook Air and iPad / iPad Pro models.  And I have to say, Microsoft has the leg up here.  Apple seems to be lagging a bit behind in the innovation category – they haven’t really done anything new lately, they just keep rehashing their old designs.  The latest iPad Pro is truly a ridiculous concept.  It’s another iPad, it’s just….bigger.  Okay okay, it does have a pen / stylus.  But with the iOS operating system it’s still hindered in its productivity and flexibility.

I will admit that I’m more of a PC user.  But I own an iPhone and an iPad.  I actually bought the iPad to work on and help me with my business.  But the iOS operating system was such a pain to deal with that I gave up, and it just sits on my shelf now (I’m going to give it to my parents for Christmas).  However when the Surface appeared it was like my wish had been granted – an iPad that had full operating system capabilities.  It’s lightweight, has an attached full size (almost) keyboard, and can be used just like an iPad with the touch screen when you take off the keyboard.

Unfortunately Microsoft kind of stumbled out of the gate with the launch of the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4 a few weeks ago.  Many accused them of launching too early as there were many bugs that users were left to deal with.  Crashing computers, an untrustworthy sleep mode, display driver crashes, are all just the tip of the iceberg.  I had a few of these bugs myself, and although they were slightly annoying they didn’t detract from my overall impression of the device, which is that I freakin love it!

I’m actually typing this article from my Surface Pro 4.  They keyboard is surprisingly responsive and easy to touch type quickly on.  I’ve clocked myself at about 70 words per minute so I know I’m a fast typist.  The screen is a thing of beauty – bright, high definition (I guess we can’t call it a “retina” screen but apparently it has more pixels than the newest iPads) and not too small to be hard to work on.

I suppose there are a few cons.  One is that the battery life is not quite what I would have wished for.  I get about 5-6 hours of brisk internet usage and writing (which is what I do for work) so I wish I could get around 9 hours.  However I’ll take it.  It’s certainly better than the 1 hour and 20 minutes I was getting on my previous laptop!  The other con is that sometimes the darn thing doesn’t go into sleep mode correctly.  It either wakes during sleep mode or it seems to drain a lot of battery power when in sleep mode.  It’s inconsistent – I could go for days without problems with the sleep mode, but then I’ll have a problem and my battery life will be knocked down by like 30%.  So I can’t really trust it just yet.

I will say that the Windows Hello facial recognition software is incredibly fun to use.  The computer greets you by name when you log on and I have to say it’s kind of nice to be greeted by this friendly little device.

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