Pre-Sale Questions / Surface pro

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro' started by RhoXS, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. RhoXS

    RhoXS New Member

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    Until a few days ago I paid almost no attention to any of the pad type computers. I had an oppurtunity to briefly play with a Surface in Best Buy and I realized it seemed to run a standard version of W8. If this is indeed correct, it might be a good candidate for replacing my laptop that I rarely use because of its weight and size. So, please help me with the following questions:

    -Most important, can "Classic Shell" be installed so the interface looks and behaves exactly like W7? This is a nogo consideration - I will not use W8.

    -Is W8 64 bit so all my 64 bit programs work and I gain the added effiiency of 64 bit over 32 bit software?

    -Will it run my standard 64 bit versions of MS Office, Quicken, Mozilla Thunderbird, Teamviewer, iTunes, Paperport, and the Kindle reader for PCs?

    -Can the RAM be expanded beyond 4 Gb and is there even a need to do so?

    -Does it have a USB port? I saw no reference to one and this is important so I have access to USB memory devices.

    -Can it be charged using a standard 2 Amp USB power supply (so I can easily charge it my vehicles, use my backup battery to charge it, and not have to carry multiple power supplies with me)?

    -Is it safe to assume the 128 Gb of storage cannot be expanded? 128 Gb might be too limiting but not sure yet.

    -I assume a virtual keypad appears like on the iphone. What are opinions with respect to the practicality of this virtual keypad?

    I am hoping the surface can be configured to function like a very light weight slim laptop that provides all the functionality (albeit with a smaller screen) I have with my laptop but without the bulk and weight. The idea of having a touch screen W7 interface also appeals to me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  2. deavod

    deavod New Member

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    Well, you're really missing out. W8 works really well in 'touch mode' but also includes desktop mode (Win-D) so you get the best of both. But yes, you can install classic shell if you want.

    It's basically the same as 64bit Windows 7 in regards to what you can run. So practically any program you're running on 64bit Win7 will work. But the Surface Pro is 64bit Win8. I run Office 2013 32bit, Quicken pro and all kinds of other regular 32 and 64bit Windows software with no problems.

    Nope, can't expand. But as long as you realize you're not running a 32GB RAM system you should be ok. Don't run Photoshop + HyperV + Visual Studio and 4GB should be ok. :)


    1 USB 3 port on the left side. Buy a USB 3 hub and be happy with USB 3 speeds.
    You can not charge the Surface Pro via USB, only the charger (that I know of...) BUT, the Pro charger includes a USB charger port so you can plug in your phone / MP3 / MiFi to charge while you charge the Pro. Pretty nice.

    No, you can not expand the SSD. You do have USB3 so I have a 2TB USB3 drive that I use when necessary. Also, you have a microSD card that you can pop in a 64GB MicroSD for extra storage.

    Yes, there are two keyboard layouts + handwriting input. Works OK but I would recommend a Type cover and/or Bluetooth Keyboard.


    This is exactly how I use my Surface Pro. I travel 100% So it's my laptop replacement. I bring along my USB3 hub, DisplayPort -> VGA and a wedge mouse to compliment my type cover. It's all I need for the majority of my work. If not I remote desktop to my workstation to do the heavy work anyway.

    HTH,

    Dave
     
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  3. RhoXS

    RhoXS New Member

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    Dave, Thank you very much for that very comprehensive response to my questions. Overall, from what you said, I think the Surface pro might very well be what I want.

    I am dissappointed it requires its own charger. This is probably not a nogo issue but it is dissappointing it does not use a standard 2 amp USB charging source like our Kindle Fires do. For example, our 6 A-Hr (or so) backup batteries that have proved so useful with our iPhoines and Kindles (in airports, at the beach, etc.), will not be useful with the Surface. We also will not be able to charge it from the car unless we buy an additional piece of hardware (assuming its available).

    With respect to W8: My wife just bought a laptop with W8. After acknowedgebly limited experience with her new laptop, I more than just dislike W8, have no desire to learn how to use it, and am offended that I am expected to learn something new when W7 already works so well. Even the desktop appearance is offensive because of those huge ugly blocks that clutter up the desktop and wont all fit onto the same screen. I was so frustrated trying to make sense out of W8, probably because the Start button is missing, I just do not want anything else to do with W8. In other words, using W8 is a non-negotiable issue.

    In any case, again, your effort to respond is certainly appreciated.
     
  4. demandarin

    demandarin Active Member

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    Windows 8.1 is coming in October for surface pro. It brings back the start menu of the past so many are accustomed to using. That other poster broke it down very well. This is an excellent device.

    I'd highly recommend getting a "Type" cover. Which has keys that travel and actually works very well.

    As for your car charging, just get a power inverter for your car that plugs into cigarrette lighter socket. Then you can plug in the surface pro native charger. Which charges up the device very fast. It puts out more than enough power to let you use the device and charge it up at a good pace at the same time. This device needs laptop or equivalent type power to xcharge. This isn't some Ipad or lower power device than can just charge on any USB port.

    Good luck on your decision. I'm sure you'd love it.
     
  5. oion

    oion Well-Known Member

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    If you're thinking about buying a Surface Pro, you'd better revise your expectations to match reality: Surface Pro is an ultracompact laptop with tablet interface, capable of being a desktop replacement for some people. Would you try to recharge your work laptop using a measly USB connection? Didn't think so. :p

    Virtual keyboard: I don't use it (Type cover is great for touch-typists); it's something of a last resort, or for minimal text input like searching Amazon Prime/Youtube/etc. for videos if I don't have the keyboard attached. But honestly, either Type/Touch keyboard covers are so low-profile and light that the only two reasons why you wouldn't get one are (1) budget (but you wouldn't be considering a Surface Pro at all) or (2) you have an external keyboard you like.

    As for not using Win8, wait for 8.1 as demandarin says. I'm waiting for it myself, though I've gotten used to the blocky metro/modern UI start screen, which is the start menu. But keep in mind this: Windows 8 vanilla is not a great experience on traditional laptop/desktop, but seems to work quite well on tablet interfaces. The start screen with the colored blocks makes a lot more sense when you figure out how can just swipe with your finger to scroll, easily drag and group icons visually, and zoom in/out with a finger pinch on the screen.

    I have Win7 on my desktop and will not upgrade to Win8 for a long while, though.
     
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  6. RhoXS

    RhoXS New Member

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    I have to disagree.

    In short, yes, of course I would, assuming a "measly USB connection" (at 2 amps) is adequate for the battery.

    My existing laptop is a power hungry pig with a battery that outweighs the entire Surface device. A USB power supply would not be at all practical because the total amount of energy required to charge my laptop would simply take an unreasonably long time to deliver at the limited rate even a 2.0 amp supply can furnish.

    However, the Surface, I think its reasonable to assume, is on par with other pad type devices, including our two Kindle Fires, with respect to battery capacity, energy consumption, and charging current so it does indeed seem reasonable to me to use a USB charger to support it.

    I just checked the MS site and the Surface Pro has a 42 Watt-Hour battery. A 5V USB port at 2 amps supplies 10 watts. At 100% efficiency that is four hours. At 50% that is eight hours and that is more or less over night for a dead battery. The Kindle Fire 8.9" is advertised by Amazon to take 14 hours from a laptop USB port or "slightly longer" than 5 hours "with other micro-USB power adapters that you may already have.".

    The raison d'ĂȘtre for buying a surface is for the convenience of its size and weight. Having to travel with a dedicated charger, instead of using the charging infrastructure I already have in place for all my other devices, is somewhat counterproductive (although not something that would prevent me from buying it).

    In any case, I certainly appreciate all the response and advise so far to my original post. This forum certainly has provided a very effective source for answering all my original questions. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  7. Russ

    Russ Active Member

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    RhoX5 --

    No, it is not. The Surface Pro is a computer -- a laptop disguised as a tablet. It replaced my laptop for travel, and my Ipad which I used solely as a reader. If you don't like the Win8 interface, spend $5 more and get Start8 from Stardock. It allows you to boot straight to the desktop, and gives you other useful interface features. With a little tweaking, Desktop mode in Win8 is almost indistinguishable from Win7. I'm running Win8Pro on four of my desktop machines, and have all of them set to boot to Desktop instead of the Win8 interface. That is where I want to be for serious work.

    There were a few minor programs that did not make the transition from Win7 to Win8 -- so minor, in fact, that I cannot now recall any of them. I have a 128G Pro with a 64G card, and have not even nudged my storage limits. Neither have I encountered a problem with 4G Ram. I also got a Pro for my Ladyfriend to replace her laptop for travel. She took it on a 6-week China trip, and came back loving it. She, too, gave her laptop away.

    Would be happy to answer further questions if I can.

    Regards,
    Russ
     
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  8. oion

    oion Well-Known Member

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    Oh, sounds like we better nip this in the bud, as you're not a fully educated consumer. (Believe me, I'm disagreeing for your own good. Better to steer someone away from the Surface than have them complain unreasonably about misunderstood things later, as I'm a huge fan of "buy into your requirements" regardless of the device itself. I can't possibly say "Oh, you'll love it!" because who knows.)

    Numbers aside. The average consumer doesn't seem to understand that ultramobile engineering (okay, pretty much any engineering that's centered around energy input and output, really, like cars) follows the classical project management trifecta. In the case of mobile computing, that means: Power, weight, battery life--pick two. In the case of your laptop, I expect it to be quite powerful in its era with meh battery life to offset that power, meaning it requires more weight for any decent off-charger use. The reason why the Surface Pro is an engineering marvel is because it exists in a new space concerning the power/weight/battery equation, but it still requires sacrifices based on the laws of physics (to keep it 2 lb with that chosen plateau of power, the battery life is thus only 5-ish hours). And then--

    That's not reasonable. The Intel i5 processor and related surrounding internals are simply another class entirely compared to those 'pad' devices you mention.

    Now, perhaps you're thinking of the Surface RT with Windows RT and ARM processor. That would be a device one might more reasonably assume could be compatible with USB charging because the Surface RT has long battery life with lower power requirements and also lower performance, similar to the class of tabs you list. Still, it's a different type of device compared to a Kindle or iPad because it exists in a space previously unoccupied (low-power tablet capable of Office-based productivity).

    But all of this leads to another question... One of the most common consumer responses to the Surface is that it's a consolidating device. That means you get rid of your other devices--iPad, Android, laptop, whatever--for the one unifying device. Or, put another way, why not get rid of everything else (except the phone) along with the laptop if you get a Surface Pro? Then the charger thing is moot.

    Honestly, given your dislike of Win8 (though you hadn't tried it on tablet really), misunderstanding about the Surface Pro (comparing to iOS/Android is a huge no-no), and desire to retain all your current devices, you're probably better off replacing only your laptop with only a better and lighter ultrabook. There are lots out there.
     
  9. Russ

    Russ Active Member

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    Oion --

    For me, the Pro was a "consolidating device," in that I got rid of my laptop (gave it to my daughter) and my Ipad reader (to my granddaughter). I have already made a couple of trips with the Surface, and have no desire to go back -- none, zero, nada.

    Your second piece of advice is spot on. We do not need another whiny Surface Pro owner around here.

    Regards,
    Russ
     
  10. RhoXS

    RhoXS New Member

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    Although I did not have clue about the real capability of the Surface prior to last week, I am now well aware of what it really is and that is exactly why I asked the questions above. Previously, I incorrectly perceived it as another iPad wannabe and had zero interest in it. Last week, when I idly looked at one in Best Buy, the light bulb suddenly lit very brightly when I noticed it was running a real Windows OS and not some funky pad type adaptation. It would seem MS could do a much better job conveying the capability of it in their TV commercials.

    My specific comment above ("However, the Surface, I think its reasonable to assume, is on par with other pad type devices") was focused only on its battery and charging requirements - not its functionality as a computer. With respect to the advertised Surface battery capacity, and that advertised for the 8.9" Kindle Fire (since my wife and I each have one), they are indeed somewhat similar. Therefore, I still think a USB charging solution would be a viable. I do not understand the MS decision to give it a dedicated and unique charger since its battery capacity is somewhat similar to other pad type devices. This still does not matter, and represents only something I wish it had, as I am almost probably going to buy one anyway.

    I plan to wait until after W8.1 is available from the factory on new devices. I would much prefer to have the features I am looking for (an uncluttered Desktop with only a few small icons for the programs I most frequently access and a Start button for ready access to utility functions) native to the original install rather than modify the existing OS with add on programs or even a MS service pack type upgrade.

    I was in Best buy this afternoon but could not resist again checking out the Surface they had on display. I am convinced, even if I am stuck with those silly big blocks, it would be a very welcome replacement for my laptop.

    Thanks again for everyone's effort to politely and respectfully respond to my thoughts with very worthwhile information.
     
  11. Lance_Mangold

    Lance_Mangold New Member

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    As much as I want the Pro I have to wait for the Pro 2. Admittedly the Pro is the best piece of hardware out there in a small portable form factor but I put an SSD in my laptop just before it came out.

    What will make me pounce on a Pro 2 will be a Haswell chipped version with a 256 gig SSD. That's all I need added to the existing model. Give me that and I will push my way to the front of the line at the M$ Store.

    Sent from the SurfaceForums.net app for Windows 8
     
  12. Name Taken

    Name Taken Active Member

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    I am also looking forward to the second generation Surface Pro that will be released with Windows 8.1. One of the major update I expect see on the hardware side is the integration of a fourth generation Haswell CPU. The lower power consumption would mean longer battery while needing less cooling for less weight and thickness. I would also welcome improved graphics and possible i7 over i5. I get the feeling the first generation is still like beta testing so in the second generation hopefully it would address many of the complaints users had and also improve on things such as the pen, ports, kickstand, type/touch cover, SSD, WiFi, screen, software.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013

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