We recently acquired Microsoft’s latest venture into the tablet market, the Surface Pro. We were particularly excited to review it as it is one of the first of a new breed of tablets that runs a full blown version of Windows 8. What that means for you is that you can run many of your existing office applications directly on the tablet.
This article covers some of the features of the Surface Pro and where it may be applicable for you as a Strata Manager.
This is quite a heavy device. There are some high-end notebooks and cheaper netbooks that are smaller and lighter than this. However, the advantage is that it has a very wide screen format. This makes it somewhat easier to carry and much easier to type on the onscreen keyboard as it can accommodate your fingers in a natural orientation.
Amazing! The display is 1920x1080 pixels and looks stunning. The flip side of such a hi-res display is that you might find yourself reaching for your reading glasses with some applications. What is great about the Surface Pro is that you can buy a HDMI or VGI cable to plug into a monitor. I did find that the frame rate seemed a little patchy though.
For me, the big plus for this as a tablet was the keyboard/track pad accessories. These are optional extras but for me, I think are mandatory. We use the “Type keyboard” which snaps into place beautifully with no messing about with blue tooth – it was designed from the ground up to accommodate this rather than an afterthought. Being able to navigate windows apps with a mouse cursor on a track pad makes this device a real candidate for a PC or notebook replacement. The other option as well is to just plug in a combo USB keyboard/mouse and a monitor and you have a full blown desktop setup.
Definitely not a strong point for this tablet with only 3-4 hours during heavy use. The reason for this is that it is running an Intel Core i5 processor like you might see in other high end notebooks.
They don’t make 3G/4G version of the Surface Pro which means you have to connect to your office wireless or buy a Ethernet dongle for it. The other option is to buy one of the myriad of mobile 3G/4G wireless routers that would set you back up to two-hundred dollars.
The Surface Pro starts at $999 so it comes in at the very top end of the tablet market. I guess you can look at it as a medium price notebook or a really expensive tablet.
Surface Pro for Strata
So ultimately what is the best application for this device in Strata you may ask. The obvious sweet spot is for staff on the go – do a PowerPoint presentation to a prospective committee, show them your StrataMax Online Portal, or type up notes for a meeting. Navigating around BCMax also works nicely via remote desktop and could be really helpful to take to a meeting (this is where having a mouse track pad really makes a difference).
Since writing this article the Surface RT, the Surface Pro’s little brother, has dropped 30% in price. The Surface RT is lighter and thinner but does not boast the same processing power to run native Windows 7/8 applications. However this is not a show stopper as you can still run full remote desktop to connect to your office PCs and servers as well as Microsoft Office. So at a starting price of only $350 plus $100+ to add a keyboard/mouse pad, it is really a great tool for running your regular apps remotely.
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