I just received this report from Dave O’Leary on his experiences with the Microsoft Surface Pro: “My early experience with my Microsoft Surface “Laplet” has been positive. I now have to pack only one tool when traveling and that tool takes up much less space than my old laptop and tablet combination. For many of us, travel and working away from our office is a fact of life. The new Surface is designed to make that a little easier and efficient. Based on my recent travels it does just that.”

Full Report:
Dave O'Leary M.Ed., I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P
VP Institutional Advancement
Northwest Community College
Chair National Council Deans of IT
Director & VP CIPS British Columbia
Director ICTC
Director iGen Knowledge Solutions Inc.

My recent trip taking me through two countries and nine cities in twelve days was made easier by the replacement of my heavy laptop with my new Microsoft Surface Pro 128. On a trip like this, taking carryon luggage only is key to reducing travel stress. In the past my traditional laptop and its charger took up the entire laptop section of my backpack. Traveling with my new Surface, that space was shared with two shirts, socks, gloves, scarf, and hat. While the extra space was nice to have on this trip it will become critical as airlines limit travelers to one carry on item from the current two. But space and weight saving alone are not reason enough to replace my trusty old laptop travel partner.

The Surface does everything I need a laptop to do. It also serves my needs as a table. On this trip I needed to take notes while walking in a mine. The handwriting app worked great collecting my notes in a MS Word document. There are many articles written discussing the Surface and whether it is a tablet or a laptop. For me it is neither. It is a new kind of device, a “Laplet”. As a College executive and director on a number of boards I need a fully functional productivity tool to create and manage large documents and spreadsheets. I also need to prepare and deliver presentations that utilize various applications. I need to be able to do this no matter where I am. My Surface “Laplet” works just as well as my trusty old laptop. Apart from the new input options of Windows 8, using the Surface is no different. Both the Typepad and Touchpad covers provide a familiar keyboarding experience and I have not run into any lag issues. In addition to work while traveling, I also want to listen to music, read books, and keep in touch with family and friends. I can do all of this with the Surface. The Windows 8 OS and the business level processor run any application I throw at them. While I don’t have a lot of applications, the ones I do use are critical to me; so far no problems with compatibility.

While the Surface is a great replacement for both my laptop and current tablet, there are still opportunities for improvement. The main one for me is the quality of the rear facing camera. The current low resolution camera that comes with the Surface may be adequate for video communication but it is not good for photography. Including a high resolution camera would mean one less device needed on the road. For now I will have to take my digital camera. Others have written about Surface battery life and the fact that is less than that of other tablets. I don’t find this a problem and I am happy to trade that for a full power processor. The small form factor charger is easy to carry around and the option to piggy back a USB charge to my smartphone is a welcome option. Of course anything Microsoft can do to increase battery life would be welcome. One additional opportunity for design improvement is with the supplied stylus. While it is easy to use, its magnetic dock to the charging input is too easy to knock off as I did on a number of occasions resulting in an all fours hunt to find and retrieve it.

My early experience with my Microsoft Surface “Laplet” has been positive. I now have to pack only one tool when traveling and that tool takes up much less space than my old laptop and tablet combination. For many of us, travel and working away from our office is a fact of life. The new Surface is designed to make that a little easier and efficient. Based on my recent travels it does just that.