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I'm Never Buying A Laptop Again

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I caved. It was only a matter of time.

Last week I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - a 12” tablet which has been bandied about as the ‘laptop killer’.

Is it?

I’m never buying a laptop again. That’s in writing now.

I like to think my articles on this blog have at least some form of balanced argument to them, and I do my best to consider both sides within the context.

This one won’t be like that.

I legitimately can’t find one fault with the Surface 3. And believe me, I’ve tried. There are some limitations, and I’ll come onto those. But as with everything else in life, there is always a loophole.

The reason I bought the Surface wasn’t completely consumer driven. My laptop, a HP Spectre, died a quick yet painful death, and they couldn’t offer me a replacement of the same size that had a touch screen. Only a 15” screen was available, and I’d gotten used to my 13” version.

I’d seen the Surface Pro 3 in action at last year’s Microsoft World Partner Conference, but I must admit to a certain degree of hesitancy given Microsoft’s previous dire attempts at tablet making.

Surfaces 1 and 2 were slow, clunky and not fit for purpose. And the less said about the RT the better (“It’s Windows, but with none of the features you actually use….what do you mean you don’t want it?”)

Comparatively, the Surface Pro 3 is like night and day.

That being said, we’ll start with the limitations first because, well, they’re more fun.

In the ‘Who Stole my Mouse’ blog where I used a HP ElitePad for a week, I confessed to being so infuriated with the fiddly nature of the touchscreen that I almost went back to my old laptop.

Unfortunately, I did have to use a laptop on my first morning with the Surface. Somehow I’d blocked out (or completely forgotten) that there was no HDMI port. And only remembered when I was sat at the front of the room about to give a PowerPoint presentation (to our Chairman no less).

I’ve since ordered an adaptor.

No HDMI port isn’t necessarily a big issue, a lot of laptops don’t have them nowadays. But it does mean that I have to remember to bring the newly purchased adaptor everywhere I go. Alongside the 3 chargers I need for other devices.

The next limitation is really, really scraping the barrel. But it bugged me.

The Surface comes with its own special pen for the touchscreen, which so far I’ve used to make notes in OneNote, and colour in a tiger. But there’s nowhere discernible to store it when you’re not using it (the pen, not the tiger).

The pen came with something you would be forgiven for thinking looked a bit like a black plaster, the theory being that you should use it to keep the pen attached to the device. But where?

I actually had to Google it. A YouTube video appropriately called (or inappropriately called, depending on how you look at it) ‘Six places to put your Surface pen’ taught me everything I needed to know.

So, not a lot of thought went into that one, but that’s perfectly fine because a great deal of thought went into everything else.

The Surface’s best feature is the kickstand. It’s incredibly sturdy and you can set it to any height you want; great for if you want to balance it on your knees whilst lying on the couch.

The adjustable keyboard (unfortunately only purchasable separately) is equally solid and clips on and off very easily.

As a person who you might describe as having limited patience, the 10 second boot from a cold start is a dream. And the whole machine is immensely fast.

I went for the i7 processor which is possibly the reason why; I’m not sure how the i3 and i5 would cope, but that depends on what you want to use it for. If it’s truly going to be your main device as mine now is, fast processing speed is a necessity.

I’m still on Windows 8.1 obviously until Windows 10 comes out later this year (see our recent ‘chat show style’ video series for details on all the new features) but I’m using the touchscreen much more than I was with the HP tablet. I’ve reconfigured Outlook which has been optimised for touch, so sending emails on the go is a much more streamlined process.

Windows 10 is going to improve the touch experience even more and hopefully Microsoft spend some time on the finer details like making the ‘X’ to close down windows a little bigger.

‘Continuum’ means that when the keyboard is plugged in I can use the Surface more like a laptop, when it’s not, it will go into ‘tablet mode’ and be completely touch optimised.

I’m also looking forward to whatever ‘Project Spartan’ ends up being called (Microsoft’s new as yet unnamed internet browser) as I can use the pen to annotate web pages and share this with my contacts.

In terms of weight, it’s surprisingly light given the processing power within it. I tested it against a colleague’s iPad 2 and I couldn’t feel much of a difference despite the fact that the Surface’s screen is over 2 inches bigger.

There’s not a great deal of space around the edge due to the fact Microsoft wanted to make the most of the screen, which can make it awkward to grip sometimes. I think my colleagues have a sweepstake on how soon I drop it.

Battery life is what you might expect – I might get a day out of it if I’m lucky. But until they solve the conundrum of longer life batteries being too bulky, we’ll have to learn to carry our chargers about a little longer.

Speaking of the iPad, I haven’t quite been able to cast mine aside just yet. The sole reason for that is that there is no Windows app for Sky Go. Seriously. **See comments section for an update on this**

However, if Satya Nadella can use a Mac on stage to deliver a presentation, I can use an iPad to catch up on Scandal.

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