Colleague Wayne Williams is right to call out Surface Pro 3 hidden costs necessary to make a reasonable laptop replacement. There is another choice, which geeks often overlook. Surface 2 is a great value for the price, and everyone considering Apple iPad Air as a laptop replacement should look to Microsoft's tab first.
Before explaining, I start a diatribe that will continue to future posts. Geek reviewers hung up on specs and the fanciest features missing what matters more: Benefits -- to whom they are important and in what circumstances. Not everyone needs the fastest, coolest thing, or can afford it. Lower-cost is a benefit, too, and it's one too often ignored by fanboys and tech reviewers. Wayne gets it. So should you.
I love First-Person shooter video games such as Call of Duty and Quake 4. For that genre of game, my trusty keyboard and mouse is the optimal way to interact with my on-screen character. However, for all other games like fighting, racing and platforming, I need and demand a quality controller. While there are many to choose from, the Xbox 360 controller has proven to be the most reliable and comfortable for many. Drivers exist for Windows, so gamers can connect it by USB or buy a wireless variant and dongle.
Sadly, Xbox One controller drivers have been absent for Windows. This is puzzling as Microsoft is behind the controller and operating system. This new controller is wonderfully built and designed, so gamers have been eager to use it on their PC gaming rigs. Well, today the wait ends -- Microsoft has finally delivered the drivers we have been waiting for.
It should come as no surprise that this week's big news was Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 unveiling. Brian had been looking forward to the NYC event and was at the event to get hands on with the new device. There's certainly a lot to love about Microsoft's third generation tablet, but there is that price to consider. If you like the look of what you see, the device is available for pre-order right now -- and if you're undecided between the Surface and a MacBook Air, Mihaita compared the two. Maybe you're one of those who thinks it’s a niche product.
The Surface Mini failed to make an appearance, but there are still lots of other tablets to choose from -- although they are yet to make much of an impression in higher education, unlike Chromebooks which have found their way into Welsh schools. Will Microsoft's tablet manage to attain the longevity of Apple's iPad? You'd be forgiven for thinking that hell itself had frozen over at the news that work is underway that will make it possible to run Android and iOS apps side by side on the same device.
I have no problems with touchscreens in general, no problem at all. I can't imagine using a non-touchscreen phone any more, and I have tablets of all shapes and sizes coming out of my ears. Touchscreens make sense, they are intuitive, they are fun to use. In the right situation, at least. I bang on about being a very happy Surface Pro owner (not as yet a Surface Pro 3), but how often do I take advantage of the fact that it has a touchscreen? Very rarely. I might jab the screen every now and then to switch apps, I may even mess about with handwriting recognition from time to time, but despite my love of the device, a keyboard/trackpad/mouse combo is my preferred choice.
I use my Surface Pro as a laptop, and perhaps this is where my issues stem from. To me it makes little sense to reach over the keyboard to interact with the screen when a far more energy and time efficient trackpad flick does the job just as well. Used as a tablet, it would be a different story, but to me the Surface Pro range is not about amalgamating the best of laptops and tablets, it's about having a fancy laptop. But I digress. My point is that I have yet to be convinced of the value of touchscreen laptops (when used as laptops), and the idea of touchscreen monitors for desktop computers just seems like a step too far.
Today's Microsoft event in New York City was something of a mixed bag with its fair share of highs and lows. There was an obvious highlight -- the Surface Pro 3. It was a highlight for two reasons. Firstly, despite expectations to the contrary, this was in fact the only device to be announced today. Secondly, at least in terms of looks and specification, it's bloody amazing. But there were at least a couple of low points. No Surface Mini, and the frankly bonkers, nuts, crazy, mad Surface Pro 3 pricing.
The Pro side of Microsoft's Surface range has long been criticized for being a little on the pricey side, but the third generation takes things to the extreme. At the top end of the scale -- a rather juicy sounding Intel Core i7 device packing 8GB RAM and 512 GB of storage -- you'll need to save up an astonishing $1,949. Panos Panay made a great deal of noise about how this is the tablet that can replace your laptop. For that price, I should flippin' well hope so. For that price I can buy a top of the range laptop and still have enough left over to buy a decent tablet. I could even venture into Apple territory if I was feeling a little saucy...
You probably already know, but Microsoft is set to announce a new Surface product today at an event in New York City. The initial rumors suggested we would be seeing a mini version of the company’s flagship Windows slate (a conclusion jumped to because the invites mentioned a "small gathering"), but latest rumblings suggest the exact opposite -- with a 12-inch Surface Pro 3 now tipped to be the product revealed on stage.
While I personally would like to see a Surface Mini, a larger Surface Pro makes a lot of sense, and will appeal to power users. At the moment no one outside of Microsoft knows for definite what to expect, but it should be very interesting nonetheless.
Microsoft has a knack for losing money with its Surface tablet lineup, and it is now poised to do the same with the new phone-making business it just acquired from Finnish maker Nokia. Devices & Services generated a negative operating profit of €326 million in Q1 CY2014 (that equates to a $450 million loss) on sales of a mere €1.929 billion. What is the definition of wanting to lose even more money, on purpose?
The not-so-insignificant-loss has been caused by lower sales of phones and smartphones, the latter of which includes (mostly) Lumia Windows Phones. Nokia has not provided any numbers on the volume of devices it may have sold or shipped during the first quarter of the year, but suffice to say the bar was not high to begin with. In Q1 2013, the Finnish maker sold only 5.6 million Windows Phones, and this business lost a lower €120 million (while also posting €836 million more in sales).
Say what you want about the Surface line of tablets, but they are very functional, well-made devices. Microsoft's videos simply show-off the tablet's potential, which is sometimes lost in the tech community. Let's be honest, many people have dismissed Surface, unfairly. Today, the company unleashes another video, highlighting how a wedding planner named Ashlee uses Surface to be succesful.
When you think of tablets, the iPad and Android variants seem very hip and sexy. While I love the Surface 2, it conjures images of nerds editing spreadsheets. As an owner of a Surface 2 (and spreadsheet-loving nerd) I know there is much more to Microsoft's tablet -- it is great for games and media too.
However, it seems Microsoft is intent on changing the public's perception of its awesome Surface 2. In a new video, the company features a hip, young, bakery owner named Loren Brill. Microsoft's tablet helps her bake yummy treats. Does she change the way you think about Surface?
Build 2014 has seen lots of revelations already -- a free version of Windows is on the cards, universal apps for different devices will make the lives of developers rather easier, and a raft of new Windows Phones are just around the corner -- but there is one that is particularly intriguing.
During the keynote speech today Microsoft also revealed something else. That it is changing its bloody mind yet again. The Start menu is going to make a return. Yep. The Start menu that was shunned is coming back.
I have no idea what 12-year old kids are interested in -- I am guessing Justin Bieber and Instagram; lord only knows. However, as a tech-guy, I always have my eye on what smartphones and tablets people are using in public. From my observations, iPhones and iPads still reign supreme for tweens. And so, it is not surprising that 12 year old Victoria asked her dad for an iPad Mini.
While many kids are whiny brats nowadays, she took a more responsible approach and created a presentation as to why buying it is a good idea. Her father, rather than simply giving in and buying it, instead tweeted Microsoft to give it a chance for rebuttal. Microsoft responded to her presentation in epic fashion.
Choosing a large-scale software solution is a difficult thing. Obviously, in these tough economic times, cost savings are a huge deciding factor. However, saving money up front can lead to future headaches down the road. In other words, if the software causes the employees to be less productive, you may as well flush your cost savings down the toilet. Hell, it may cost you more in the long run.
Microsoft is a dependable name in software solutions, and Office is one of the most powerful software suites bar none. One county in the state of North Carolina has realized cost savings and increased productivity thanks to Office 365 and Surface tablets.
When the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 were unveiled last year in Manhattan, I was on hand. While the tablets were the stars of the event, there were many interesting accessories too. My favorite accessory was the Surface Music Kit as it allowed music creation in a unique way. However, the Power Cover was intriguing too. You see, it acts like the normal type cover, but dramatically extends the battery.
Sadly, the Power Cover has been unavailable for purchase. Surface fans such as myself, have been clamoring to obtain it. Luckily, a release date has finally come to light -- March 19th. It will work with the Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 -- the Surface RT has been left out of the party.
Windows 8.1 Update. Windows 8.1 Update 1. Windows Feature Pack. Windows 8.1 Service Pack 1. Call it what you will, the big update to Windows 8.1 is just around the corner and it promises much. Or at least it did. It was revealed yesterday that it was possible to get hold of the update ahead of schedule with a quick and simple registry edit -- or by downloading the necessary files from the numerous mirrors that quickly sprang up -- and it appears that this is final code; the RTM version that will hit Windows Update for the masses very soon. Was it worth the wait?
This update was Microsoft's chance to put things right, to win back people who hated Windows 8 and have failed to be won over by 8.1. I make no secret about having a love-hate relationship with Windows 8.x. There have been parts of Windows 8 -- particularly the Metro/modern side of things -- which I disliked from day one, but for the most part I have been able to just avoid using them. Microsoft has even acknowledged that people want to avoid the Start screen whenever possible, and has provided tips on how to do so.
Traveling on an airplane used to be quite the archaic experience. Sure, soaring above the clouds is great, but for many, using electronic devices for things like Flappy Bird is much more exciting. Sadly, for many years, electronic devices were banned from certain phases of flight, such as take-off. Luckily, last year, the FAA allowed electronic devices during all phases.
While that was great for passengers, what about the pilots? Surely these air-based navigators want to take advantage of cutting-edge technology too. Well, today is their lucky day, as the FAA grants authorization to Microsoft's Surface 2.