After much deliberation and several flip-flops on whether or not I wanted an RT, Pro, or any Surface at all, I finally decided to go for the RT. I’m super excited about it. Like most developers that I’ve talked to about it, my initial reaction to the RT and lack-of-Pro availability was disappointment. “I need Pro so I can install Visual Studio and do EVERYTHING,” I told myself. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I don’t want to do everything on my tablet, though.
My work-provided laptop is my primary development environment, and that’s not changing any time soon. What do I really want/need in a tablet? I’ve got a short list:
- Couch companion. I need fast coffee-to-internet times from an “off” state. My netbook currently fills this role, but it can be slow to boot/wake up.
- Keyboard. If I’m typing an email or document, an on-screen keyboard is simply not sufficient. Again, this is where I turn to my netbook. I also want the ability to take notes quickly in a meeting. I don’t take my netbook with me to work, so I tote around my behemoth laptop for this.
- Big screen. I was excited for the Kindle Fire to be my poor-man’s iPad, but I found that the internet experience was more similar to a phone than a laptop. The small screen requires way too much zooming in and panning around.
- Compact. If I’m reading on the couch, in bed, or at the doctor’s office, I don’t want something bulky.
Surface hits on all of these, plus it gives me the ability to connect to a projector or TV with the VGA and HD adapters. This could put an end to my days of camera-phoning whiteboards!
Surface is just like the first iPad in that it has all the flaws and rough edges you’d expect in a version one device. But it is also like the first iPad in that there is undeniably the core of something revelatory and transformative here – a vision of the future of computing that doesn’t sacrifice either keyboard or touch.
Reviewers think Surface is intended to be a tablet killer, but it isn’t. It’s a laptop killer. After living with the Surface RT for a few days now, I’m convinced that this form factor is the replacement and way forward for the stagnant laptop. I can’t even remember the last time I was this excited about a computer. The more I use it, the more I think that touch plus keyboard is the future of all laptops.
How wonderful it is to flip open the Surface and quickly type a 4 paragraph email response when I need to. How wonderful it is to browse the web and touch whatever I want to. And switching between the two modes of interaction – sometimes typing, sometimes touching – is completely natural. Remember when I talked about two-fisted computing, referring to the mouse and keyboard working in harmony? With Surface, I found that also applies to touch. In spades.
My Surface should be arriving this week, and I’m certain that I’ll be writing about it again. I’m very excited.