Surface Pro, Lumia 920, and iPhone 5 walk into a press conference

Surface Pro, Lumia 920, and iPhone 5 walk into a press conference

Summary: We have many different mobile devices available for our specific needs. This week I took a few devices on a road test and found they went above and beyond my expectations.

A Surface Pro, Lumia 920, and iPhone 5 walk into a press conference

Readers seem to enjoy articles on how mobile tech fits into my life and it also gives you perspective on where I am coming from when I post here on ZDNet.

Earlier this week I flew from Seattle to New York to attend the HTC One launch event; and my Microsoft Surface Pro, Nokia Lumia 920, and Apple iPhone 5 served me even better than I expected.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Since this was just a two day trip where I didn't want to check in luggage, I decided to take just the Surface Pro as my only computer to travel as light as possible.

Unfortunately, I also had to take the A/C adapter and cable which caused me to then wish for a USB cable to charge the Surface Pro. With a USB cable I could charge up the Surface using a portable battery or one of the slim USB to A/C adapters I have floating around. One benefit of the Surface Pro charger from Microsoft is that a USB port is on the charging brick so I was able to charge up a phone at the same time.

I rented a movie to watch via Xbox Video and also downloaded the latest episodes of Walking Dead and Clone Wars in iTunes on the Surface Pro. I had already purchased these seasons on iTunes and almost bought them again on Xbox Video before I realized I can just intall the full Windows version of iTunes to access this content. This gave me lots of content to enjoy on my cross country flights and the kickstand on the Surface worked well on the tray table.

I wrote a couple of blog posts using my cyan Touch Cover and the awesome Notepad Classic application. I used the Chrome browser to post to ZDNet and also stay in touch with people on Twitter.

At the HTC One launch event there were Ethernet cables on each chair, but without an Ethernet port I used the solid WiFi connection instead. We sat in white plastic patio chairs without tables and I was able to type just fine on my Surface with the Touch Cover keyboard and both legs together to serve as a solid platform. I was actually surprised by how well I was able to have the Surface propped up and used on my lap -- as this was my first extended test of this arrangement. (BTW, I typed up this post on my Surface Pro while on my train commute this morning, but there was a table available.)

I captured a bit of video (more on that later) and figured I would process it and post it when I arrived home and connected my phone to my MacBook Pro.

Since I had a couple hours to burn at the airport, I decided to see what the Surface Pro could handle -- so I connected my Nokia Lumia 920 and imported the video to Microsoft Movie Maker. I was surprised how easy of a process that was and then found it dead simple to add a title page and post directly to my YouTube account. The entire process took something like 20 minutes, including the video upload via a tethered connection (see below).

I think I've found my new video processing machine. Honestly, my stupid MacBook Pro has been suffering from kernel panics (the Apple Store can't even solve the problem) and restarted most of the time when I try to play or process videos which is a major reason I have not been posting many videos here on ZDNet.

As a group manager, I also have to review and approve billing timesheets each week in Deltek Vision. I was able to go to the Desktop, run Vision, and get everything in on time thanks to the full Windows support of the Surface Pro.

The more I use it, the more I am convinced that the Surface Pro may be my favorite tech purchase in a long time. I know there are more powerful Windows 8 devices, but none with such power in a super slim and light package.

I never had a low battery issue since there were ample outlets at the airport and in my hotel room. I ran on battery at the launch event, but it wasn't long enough to impact my Surface usage there.

Nokia Lumia 920


I brought the Lumia 920 primarily due to its OIS (optical image stabilization) camera. I used it all season to capture my daughter's basketball games and find the ability to capture steady video to be important. I used the Lumia 920 to capture the video in this hands-on post and found it worked well with the Surface and Movie Maker.

I could have used the Lumia 920 to tether my Surface Pro at the airport and my hotel since I find the paid connections at these locations to be worse than a cellular connection. I actually go online and upgrade my AT&T account from my standard 3GB data plan to 5GB (includes tethering support) when I travel, but went with the scheme below on this trip.

It's a good thing I did bring the Nokia Lumia 920, since Nokia released their Nokia Music+ service upgrade the day I was flying home and I was able to test it out. I loaded up a few offline radio stations and listened to music on the 920 for about four of the six hours on the return trip and it was a great experience.

Apple iPhone 5


I paid full price for my iPhone 5 so I could keep my grandfathered unlimited Verizon data plan in effect. Since I believe Verizon will eventually shut down this option and I honestly don't use that much data (it's still $30+ cheaper than the new lowest tier plans) I figured I would try the jailbreak option and test tethering. I was surprised by how easy it was to jailbreak the iPhone today since I recall entering command lines in Terminal to get my old iPhones jailbroken.

I bought the TetherMe utility and was able to easily tether my Surface Pro to my Verizon LTE account. As I mentioned, I find hotel WiFi connections to be unacceptable the majority of the time and think airports should offer it for free. The iPhone connection worked quite well and I was able to upload my processed video directly from Movie Maker to YouTube.

I also used my iPhone 5 to check train schedules and help me navigate around New York City as I walked to dinner and the HTC One launch event.

Related ZDNet Surface coverage:

Trip summary

My experience this week went even better than I planned, with these three mobile devices serving me well. I traveled for a two day trip with just a single backpack carrying my mobile gear, extra underwear, a shirt, and basic toiletries. It was nice to carry-on a single bag and haul just one bag around New York City and the airports.

The Surface Pro went above and beyond my expectations with its ability to quickly create and process videos, import and edit photos, approve timesheets for my employees, and give me a full PC experience without any limitations.

The Lumia 920 OIS continues to impress me and I look forward to testing out this functionality on the HTC One.

The Apple iPhone 5 continues to serve me well and the ability to easily jailbreak it lets me fix some of the issues I have with iOS while also letting me use my Verizon plan the way carriers should model plans. I could have left the iPhone 5 behind and tethered with the Lumia 920, but Verizon LTE is more widespread and I wanted to make sure I had a connection when I needed it.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8, Windows Phone

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  • "The Surface Pro went above and beyond my expectations..."

    Good article. That quote seems to reflect the view held by most people who have ever actually used the Surface Pro for real work (as opposed to those who are just on ZDnet to vent...)
    • Agreed

      Its a VERY nice piece of hardware (Oddly, I can find this at my local best buy but not the RT version :/ Why does no one bring the RT to Omaha to I can test windows RT #frustration). Though, personally I'm going to wait tell the next Surface Pro for Haswell so it gets a little bit more battery life.
    • Surface Pro...

      I wish Microsoft would hurry up and launch the damned thing over here. I've been waiting to buy a tablet for a couple of months now and I want to get a Surface Pro as a desktop replacement - apart from Lightroom, most of my needs could be accomplished even on an Atom based tablet, but I want the extra storage and power, just in case...

      But as Microsoft can't seem to even meet demand in the USA at the moment, I guess we will be sitting here (Germany), twiddling our thumbs for a while to come.

      The Surface Pro is starting to sound like the Zune all over again - a US only product.
  • "The Apple iPhone 5 continues to serve me well..."

    Hi Mathew, good article. I wonder how you can say the iPhone served you well, but you had to hack it (Jailbreak) to make it useful? I don't know if the Lumia 920 can tether, so I guess it is possible the iPhone was your only option, but I'm pretty sure the the 920 can "check train schedules and help [you] navigate around New York City", so if the Lumia can tether, why not just use the Lumia 920 and leave the iPhone at home?

    Thanks for the confirmation on the Surface Pro video editing abilities, I was wonder how well it would handle video.
    • I mentioned tethering via the Lumia 920

      I only tethered via the iPhone because I have unlimited data. I wrote that I could also use the Lumia 920 for tethering if I upgraded to the 5GB data plan, which I do on occasion. I could just cancel Verizon and go with the 920 5GB plan for official tethering, but Verizon LTE coverage is still more widespread where I work, play, and travel.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Ok, that makes sense...

        Thank for clearing that up. After re-reading the article, I see where you had already answered my questions (Sorry about that).
      • check att for data share plan

        hey matt check att data share plan its actually cheaper than having the 3gb plan and you can get teathering with the 6gb of data you only need one line not two I had unlimited calling pled 3gb data switched to the 6gb data and actually it was cheaper than what I was paying..
      • Can you not use the Verizon unlimited SIM in the Nokia?

        Or is the phone locked to use 1 carrier's SIM only? Sorry I am not from the US so don't know how these things work there. But in Australia, handsets on a contract can be easily unlocked so they can be used on another network.
        Kunal Nanda
    • windows phone 8

      all windows phone 8 phones can tether. its called internet connection sharing. Tethering just needs to be enabled on your phone plan
  • I Don't Suppose

    that you considered using 'Nokia Drive' for navigating around New York? I use it daily and regardless of my mode of transportation, I find that it more than meets my needs. 'Maps' is a nice companion app that will automatically switch to 'Nokia Drive' when I hit the 'Drive To' button. (I wont go into the details - I'll leave the 'Joy of Exploration' to you)

    It's too bad that you have to carry a third device due to the 'unlimited data plan' - some things just are what they are!

    Thank You for the update! I look forward to your next one.
  • interesting

    So, you sold your soul to your new employer. If people think IBM is bad, that must not be true, because while you were their employee you didn't show any bias. But IBM is an serious company with style and pride...

    I wonder how the professionals who routinely edit video on their MacBooks will react to your opinion that such activity panics the kernel and even more as you tell them Apple is not able to fix it. It's also understandable the iPhone is only usable as a gadget to be jail broken, because "it does not work otherwise".

    Nice reading :)
    • sorry

      Can't edit - only offer my apology :) for being imprecise on the employer. :)
      • I believe you were endeavoring to ridicule Microsoft

        and another blogger, as in your zeal to dismiss everything he said, you did not notice that this is not Jason Perlow.

        So close, and yet so far.
        John Zern
        • One thing becomes immediately clear when reading this

          Though they will deny it when asked outright, apple fanboys clearly believe that apple products are PERFECT. How do we know this? Because every time ANYONE has ANY issue with ANY apple product, they are accused of lying.

          Therefore apple fanboys like danbi believe that no one ever has issues with apple products.

          Therefore apple fanboys like danbi think that apple products are all perfect, all the time.

          You can't make this stuff up.
          • I'm A Apple Fan & Microsoft Fan !!!!

            Hey not every Apple Fan says they are perfect no one is, I own the MacBook Pro Retina, IPad 3rd Generation & the IPhone 5 I started out in the beginning with each of the items from the first ones and upgraded as they came out me personally I have never had a problem with any of their products we use them all for school, business and playtime and in fact as I upgraded my family members have inherited them and as old as they are they still have had no problems so I will say Apple has awesome products again not perfect because I have read about people having issues here & there just like other PC's everyone computer, phone all of them have issues like cars have lemons but for myself, family & friends personally we have had none. Anyway my point is this I am going to buy a Surface Pro just because one of the draw backs is with a lot of our professors they want Microsoft windows excel, word & power point and we like doing our homework at school & really don't want to lug around a laptop Tablets are so much nicer and from I'm reading on the Surface it fills in the blanks for me. So I guess you can say that you can consider me 50/50 I like both products and I know a lot of people who are. What I don't understand is why people have to knock Apple and then the people who knock Microsoft Really everyone has their own likes and dislikes What I think would be nice is to for once while I'm reading blogs to get research on new technology that comes out to actually get information without people going off on each other you like Apple great you like Microsoft great but don't sit there and knock each other ,to each their own.
    • Nice Rant!

      however, are you sure Matthew works for Microsoft? I'll leave the research to you!

    • MacBook pro sizes up..and has kernel panics.

      I've had this happen many times to me...I'm going to take it to Apple and ask them to make another attempt to fix the problem, because we can't depend on it for making /editing videos. It's an expensive computer that should be able to handle it! Even so,,, I put up with it...because I don't see myself considering anything other than a Mac!
      • Reminds me of Animal House...

        ...when the pledges would get whacked and the expected answer is "Thank you sir, may I have another!"
      • Bad luck

        Now your stuck on a boring Mac and will continue to be a noob
      • Windows MovieMaker freezes up, too

        Different kind of problem, each time. I don't think it's the kernel, but maybe video calls or graphics calls. In XP, the problems vary, but I've learned to save the videos I make, about every 10 minutes, lest the computer go into a hang. In Windows 7, the problem is the same but its trigger is different: leave the video playing in preview mode too long, without hitting a key or moving a mouse, and it keeps on playing (so you think everything is alright) -- but the marker moving along the timeline starts to fill in the timeline with green. At first I thought it was a lack of memory or graphics, but the same problem happens whether 2 GB or 8 GB of RAM, whether integrated or dedicated graphics, in 32-bit Windows 7 Pro.

        In short, maybe the Mac problem is something native to the video renderer program, not a problem with your hardware or the OS.