Impressions: Microsoft Surface

The red one or the blue one?

Scott and I have been looking at getting Scott’s mum a computer for years and we’ve been trying to figure out which one to get her.

Do we get an iPad? It’s easy, but wouldn’t let her save her photos to an external device.

A Blackberry Playbook?  Nope!

We agreed to go with a Microsoft Surface.  Say what?  A Surface.  It’s perfect, I think, for what she needs.  It can connect to an external hard drive, it can download pictures from her camera, etc…

The Surface is, surprisingly, a very well built machine.  The user interface is simplistic, yet it feels very modern and next generation.  It works well.

Surface also uses XBox branding for it’s gaming and media, and it connects to the XBox Achievement system.  Sweet!  Microsoft has really thought out their ecosystem for Windows 8 and XBox integration.  Much like Apple’s integration with Apple TV, iTunes, and the i-Devices.

The oddest thing about Surface is how wide the display is – a 9:16 aspect ratio, so using the Surface vertically as you would an iPad feels weird.  It’s mean to be horizontal.

The touch keyboard is alright, it will be interesting to see how Scott’s mum likes the keyboard.  There is a more traditional keyboard available which feels good. The keyboard is useful for when you’re on a table, not for on the knee use – just use the onscreen keyboard if you’re wanting to use it on your lap or in your hand.

It’s somewhat zippy although apps can take a bit of time to load up.  Think of the machine as a slightly lighter Windows 8 (thought this version runs Windows RT) machine, not as an iPad.  Software updates will also take the same amount of time.

All in all, if you’re in the Windows or XBox ecosystem, Surface is not a bad alternative and I like it.

If you’re part of the Apple or Android ecosystem, there really isn’t a need for a Surface in your life.  Heck, even Microsoft has made the Smartglass apps available for iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android so you don’t need a Surface.  A very smart move, Microsoft – and the functionality looks the same.

Blackberry?  I’d say upgrading to Surface or an iPad is recommended.  My Playbook crashes way too much, but at the cheap prices you can get a Playbook today, it is an okay alternative, but not recommended.

Surprising as this may sound – I hope Surface is a success.

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