Last week, I flew out to NYC for a last-minute trip to help Microsoft celebrate the launch of the Surface tablet alongside Windows 8 & the grand opening of the Microsoft Store holiday pop-up in Times Square. I was accompanied by my best friend Paula, three other invited guests from Nashville, Chicago & L.A. and their friends. It was a whirlwind of fun, learning, exploring and luck! (We got out of there early Sunday morning and avoided any Hurricane Sandy chaos. Phew!)
You can see shots from my trip on the Fresh Jess Facebook page, including the big Microsoft Store opening, Windows 8 installations in the middle of Times Square, and more playing around with the Surface Tablet in the store. Microsoft was kind enough to equip us with photographers and a video crew who recorded our time in the store.
So what were my initial thoughts? Watch the video below:
So what are my thoughts on the Surface tablet?
Before I share them with you, I just want to stress that I am not a gadget geek at all. I don't need the latest and greatest, I want something reliable that does most of the things I need it to. I own all Mac products, but do not own an iPad. These are the opinions of a casual tech consumer who spends a ton of time on a computer working and on social media.
That being said, I think the Surface tablet is a great lifestyle computer. The resolution is great, the screen's glare-resistant and is really responsive to touch & swipe. There are touch covers in several colors, but I found the keyboard on these touch covers not as responsive as the tablet screen or the Type Pad cover (I got one of those.) It's got a built-in kickstand, USB and memory card ports.
I'm a big fan of the Start screen. It's colorful and customizable to the apps, sites and settings of your liking. There are a ton of apps in the Microsoft Store, but small in comparison to the Apple or Android store. I'm hoping developers will warm up to making more sweet apps for the Surface soon! I'd love to see native apps for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. One big feature of the Surface is the "Charms" sidebar, which appears with a short swipe of the right side of the screen and allows you to share links and updates from your Surface among other things. Until I see native apps for those social media sites, though, I don't know that I'll use Charms often. A swipe of the bottom of the screen will bring up more settings controls.
What are my other favorite features?
I love that Microsoft Office 2013 is included in the Surface tablet. I bought MS Office for my MacBook Air, and it's nice to be able to work on documents, spreadsheets & PowerPoint presentations on either one.
The camera is amazing. The screen sits at an angle when it's in kickstand mode, but the camera corrects itself and captures a lot. You can fit at least four people in on a conference call on it.
Resolution for movies and music videos is clear too. Battery life will get you through a whole day of use, so if you're only using it sparingly, should keep for a few days.
I've had a lot of people ask me how it compares to the iPad, or if they should trade out their iPad for a Surface tablet. I think it's like comparing apples and oranges. If you've got an iPad and you love it, why would you want to make a switch? It'd be hard to switch between operating systems, but if you're only using the Surface for some light work and mostly entertainment purposes, it's a good choice. More than anything, think about your needs & budget for your tablet, then go from there.
I'm honored to be among the first to play with it, and look forward to seeing what Microsoft does to improve it in the months and years to come.
All photos above credit Edelman & Microsoft
I'll finish this post with some of my own behind-the-scenes photos:
Interviewing Microsoft Store manager Melinda
Thank you Microsoft for my new toy!