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Microsoft's brilliant, quirky, flawed Surface Pro
I reviewed the Surface Pro when it came out in February of this year, and the keyword in that review was quirky. Here's what I concluded:
In short, this is a great product for anyone who’s already committed to a Microsoft-centric work environment. It isn’t likely to inspire many iPad owners to switch, unless those Apple tablets are in the hands of someone who has been eagerly awaiting an excuse to execute the iTunes ecosystem.
I don’t expect Surface Pro to be a breakout hit for Microsoft. Too many people will have good reasons to say no, at least for now. But it does represent a solid, interesting, adventurous alternative for anyone who wants to spend some quality time today exploring Microsoft’s vision of the future.
The big question is how large that market is, and whether Microsoft can evolve both the Surface hardware and its accompanying apps and services so the next iteration is capable of breaking out in a big way.
The short battery life and the heat generated by the 3rd Generation i5 made the first Surface Pro less than ideal for me. I am looking forward to getting my hands on the new design and its peripherals.
You can read that original review here.
The much-misunderstood Surface RT
In my original review of the Surface RT, I concluded, "This is a product that will get better with age."
That turned out to be exactly right. The Windows 8.1 Preview has breathed new life into this device, thanks to the presence of Outlook, a much-improved Music app, and a user interface that is noticeably snappier.
As a result, I find myself picking up the Surface RT and happily using it more often these days than ever before. It lasted for an entire nine-hour Dallas-to-London flight a few weeks ago, as I did a little work and mostly listened to music and watched movies.
If Microsoft had priced the original Surface RT differently and been less cocky about its sales potential, it wouldn't have had to take a huge writeoff. In that alternate universe, this very slim and well-built device might have been seen, properly, as a great first effort. Instead...
At any rate, I'm looking forward to Surface 2 more than the Surface Pro 2. I can't be the only one.
HP's Envy X2: one of the first Windows 8 hybrids
I first saw this hybrid back in September 2012, a month before Windows 8 was officially released. My first reaction when I picked it up was “Whoa. This thing is light.” And because it has one battery in the detachable base and another in the tablet portion, it got about 14 hours of use between charges in my testing.
My original review noted:
Overall, I had high expectations for the Envy X2. Maybe they were too high for the device itself to live up to. In use, the hardware limitations occasionally made themselves very noticeable, with tasks that would take seconds on a Core i5 or i7 dragging out. The limited RAM and storage exacerbated that feeling.
A bigger problem with the Envy X2 is the same issue I felt with the Samsung. Because the system was designed, by necessity, with all of the electronics in the display, the unit feels top-heavy and slightly unbalanced when used on a lap.
On a desk, the hinge mechanism lifts the base and keyboard to a nice angle for typing, and the weight is well balanced. But on the lap the display has a tendency to tip over backwards, leading to one inadvertent crash test on a carpeted floor. (The Envy X2 passed, thank goodness.)
Read the original review here.