Today is kind of about drawing but mostly about my new sexy toy/work station. My Microsoft Surface Pro 2.
I originally heard about the Surface pro on Penny Arcade when Gabe got one from Microsoft. The specs on the original one didn’t really impress me so I fought off the early adopter in me and resisted buying the first Surface Pro.
But now the Surface Pro 2 is out and I couldn’t resist again.
There she is! First a little intro into what exactly this is. Now there are two types of Surface, Surface RT and Surface Pro. The Surface RT, or just Surface, is just a windows tablet. Think iPad but less impressive app store. Then there is the Surface Pro this bad boy is a full blown windows tablet PC. It has a dual core processor that goes between 1.6ghz and 2.4ghz with the turbo boost, 4gigs of ram on the 64gig and 128gig and 8gigs of ram on the larger models. It has integrated graphics Intel HD 4000. All and all it is about as powerful as a laptop but of course at a premium price. The 256gig model I bought came to 14o0, so pretty pricey laptop but I wanted something that was very portable and had a good battery life. So far it has yielded me between 5-8 hours per charge, dependent on what I am doing. Drawing will usually give me almost 8 hours. Here you can find the full list of stats.
This post will mostly focus on what I have been working on and playing with on my Surface these first couple weeks. The surface comes with a stylus and all the things you need to charge it. It is very very very frustrating that it does not come with the type or even the lesser touch cover when it ships. Right now I am typing on the on screen keyboard and I have to say it is pretty annoying. Though it isn’t worse than the iPad on screen keyboard. I just hate plain boring unintuitive touch screen keyboards. There only seems to be auto correction or prediction in certain programs.
So if there are typos deal with it, this keyboard is balls. I am still waiting on my Type cover from Bestbuy, they conveniently have misplaced it. I will release the fury of a thousand suns if they can’t find my order, the Type Cover 2 is sold out pretty much everywhere.
First drawing on this thing. I had trouble getting the pressure sensitivity to work at first but once I did it was just as good as my Bamboo tablet. It would register my stokes but would not give any pressure sensitivity in Manga studio. I don’t know how I fixed it but I did and I am glad since that is a large portion of the reason I bought it. I am surprised that they include a pressure sensitive stylus, but again no keyboard cover. I have installed Manga Studio on here and it runs much smoother than my aging laptop. It is taking a little bit of getting used to. The texture is different from using the bamboo, the bamboo kind of feels like a pen on paper but the stylus on this feels like rubber on glass. But it is nice drawing right on the screen instead of drawing on a pad and seeing it on the screen.
I have been inking that star wars fan art comic and then I did two more Shape challenges. Here is the shape challenges I did:
I also installed Office 365, as you would imagine all of these programs run great on this, it is as if they were made by the same people…Whoa. Once I have my Type cover it will be just like using a laptop but with better battery and only weight about two pounds. You can just hook up a full sized keyboard into the USB port but if you want a mouse you will need a blue tooth one or USB hub since there is only one USB port.
If you have used Windows 7 or 8 you probably know about snapping programs next to each other. That is also present here. I could be drawing on half of my screen and Netflix on the other or maybe drawing and Office open. The screen is a little small to be snapping apps next to each other but it isn’t like you couldn’t do it.
I loaded up my school notes and were browsing through, it worked great. I was able to make notes right on top of my slides with the stylus. When reading my notes I switched it to portrait view and it is like reading a digital text book. If you really want to make your Surface Pro a hefty investment you could buy the docking station. It adds a few more USB ports, a monitor port, speaker port and it charges it. When I first saw it I thought “I need this!” but then I thought about it and really I just need a bluetooth mouse and it will fit nicely on my desk where my laptop will no longer be.
I think the docking station is great idea if a company is implementing Surface Pros instead of laptops for their employees. I worked at an accounting firm that had laptop docking stations, it hooked up the laptop to a better keyboard, mouse, additional monitor and just made the whole laptop experience into a dual monitor desktop. But then when you wanted to take work home, just pop out the laptop and go. I could this Pro docking station working just like that but even lighter. So if you are really serious the docking station may be for you, otherwise just get a USB hub or just the Type cover.
Now another thing I have been doing on this is playing a couple games. One I have been playing is Halo: Spartan Assault a windows exclusive and it is really good. It is a twin stick shooter, meaning one stick moves you and one to shoot in a direction. The graphics are good, solid game play and just good overall.
The second game I have been playing is the Hex: Shards of Fate Alpha. This is just awesome, here is a screen shot:
If you haven’t heard of it, it is a trading card game that is also a MMO. It is pretty fun on a normal PC but with touch controls it is awesome. It runs great, I can play it while watching TV but it can get a bit toasty. When the surface is working hard you know it because the back of the Surface gets really hot.
Of course this little dream machine can be loaded with Netflix too. The stereo speakers are good, the screen is crisp and clear, though sometimes covered in finger prints. The built in pop out stand is good, especially for watching videos. It also comes with Windows media player, of course, for any videos you may have downloaded. That works just as you would imagine. It also has Xbox Video where you can rent and download movies, I haven’t delved into that much yet.
Overall I love this little machine.
It is slightly longer and heavier than my iPad but the functionality just beats the piss out of it. I can run any Windows program that is compatible with windows 8 on this. I have Office 365 so when I start up classes again this will be my homework bitch. Manga studio runs great. The battery life is worse than an iPad but better than a laptop, at least any laptop I have experienced. I can quickly switch from drawing, to Office, to Hex, which may not be the best for getting work done but I can do it and that is exciting.
In closing to decide if the Surface Pro is right for you, you need to think “Why do I want a tablet?” If you want something to just download apps, play little games, browse the internet and have a little productivity buy an iPad. If you want something that is essentially a laptop and size of a tablet that can just get shit done, get the Surface Pro. One final note is the 256gig model has 8gigs of ram versus the smaller models having 4gigs. I wanted the 8gigs of RAM because I figured that would give it a longer useful life span.
Here are some quick Pros and Cons to sum up everything.
- Truly portable with good battery life
- Good pressure sensitive stylus
- A tablet that is a fully functional PC
- Very good for gettin’ shit done
- Gets hot
- On screen keyboard is balls/Doesn’t ship with a keyboard cover
- Limited USB and other ports
- Lackluster App store