Thursday, April 25, 2013

Microsoft Surface Pro (Windows 8)

In my last post called The beauty of cloud computing I was talking about how my laptop died and I needed to come up with a solution.  The laptop would have taken about $300 to fix and the machine itself was $500.  I had got it originally wanting a tablet but knowing that since a tablet cannot run older Windows programs it wouldn't be a one device solution.

Now I've had my eye on the convertible laptops for a while so I was looking at those.  I knew of the Windows Surface RT but its limitation was not being able to run older desktop programs.  However - only a few months ago Windows came out with the Surface Pro that does all the tablet stuff and also runs these programs.  There are other manufacturers that beat Microsoft to the market but as I learned more about them it seemed they were good but not great (and came with a lot of bloatware).  The amazing thing was that as I read comments on Best Buy & Future Shop nearly all were positive and a lot gave glowing reviews.  Since most people only put comments on when they don't like a product this meant a lot.

I did not get the $120 add-on cover/keyboard.  To me that just makes it a laptop pretending to be a tablet.  Instead, I got a wireless keyboard.  This way I can hang the tablet on my truck steering wheel, put the keyboard on my lap and do all the work I need in the field.  The tablet is at a perfect level for touch & stylus use (and at eye level).  Then when I'm done I put everything to the side and drive to my next area.  I had to modify a case as there still are not many options out there.  The other advantage to this setup is I can still hook it up to my external monitor for when you need to do a lot of stuff on a larger scale.  It took me a few trips to Future Shop and Best Buy to find the right cable (no one at either place knew the correct one).  So far its worked well to have the tablet flat on the desk and the keyboard  below and just use the tablet as a large touchpad.  It'll take a bit to figure out the new way of making things work.

So far its been working very well.  All my old programs work very well and putting Microsoft Office 365 on tied to Skydrive has worked fairly well at keeping everything backed up.  There aren't many apps yet and most have a lot to be desired but I'm sure that will change over time.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The beauty of cloud computing

Today my laptop refused to start up.  I've tried everything (safe mode, repair windows, rescue media, re-install Windows) but nothing works.  I've taken it to a person to have it checked out but its not looking promising.

So am I inconvenienced? Yes - I don't have my usual hardware to do my daily tasks.  However, most everything  I need to do for communication (email, Twitter, Feedly) I can do on my phone so I just switch devices.

Did I lose data? No - I have everything based in the cloud.  I use Evernote for storing everything I want to read or be able to find later.  I use Skydrive to hold all of my documents.  My photos automatically upload to Dropbox.

I still will need to get a new computer (if it can't be fixed).  That will take time to setup again (downloading files, putting on programs) but not nearly as much lost time as if I had lost data.  Besides, I can still keep doing things as long as I can find another computer with internet (which I'm doing right now).

I think I will still need a Windows based computer.  I have programs that only fully function on Windows.  Do I need one that is touch screen?  Do I need one that can switch between tablet & laptop?  Any suggestions?