Someone in another thread had asked for a Surface review from actual users instead of Journalists. Instead, I thought I go through the “Cons” from the various news agencies and try to provide some real world perspective. I am only covering the “Cons” because I think there is a little ninja fiction there that these journalists either purposely or lazily continue to spread. Disclaimer: I am not a homer. I currently owned a Pro 1, Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, iPad Mini, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Macbook, and a private ESXi environment. I’m also in the process of building a new Haswell Nuc. In the recent past I’ve owned 4 different iPhones, 2 Chomebooks, iPad 1, Macbook Air, and an HTC One. I like a lot about Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Anyway, that’s my disclaimer….now here is my best stab at the Cons. 1. Performance is hit or miss This is accurate and inaccurate, but more Fiction than Fact. There are certainly some applications where I’ve had performance problems or some crashes, but we are talking less than 1% and it’s not evident if this is the fault of the app or the device. Additionally one reviewer claims there isn’t a consistent Flash experience in which I absolutely disagree. In fact I have yet to have a problem with flash, and this includes watching the Thursday night game tonight via NFL’s 4.5 mbit stream in IE11. I do not know of an Android or iOS tablet that has anywhere near the Flash performance of the Surface 2. I did have stuttering problems trying to stream a fully uncompressed BluRay MkV natively, but the same plays fine via the Plex App. 2. Weak Ecosystem Fact. The Windows Store ecosystem is still weak, the apps clearly aren’t always getting the best developers, and it still has a ways to catch up with Google/Apple. However, it improved significantly over the last year and if it continues at the same rate this will likely be the last generation we ever hear about this complaint. Additionally, the weak ecosystem is offset by how easily the keyboard and desktop browser makes it to access online content. I would describe it like this – we’ve all had that moment where we want to do X on our tablet but the notion of having to use an onscreen keyboard to navigate multiple screens is enough to talk you out of doing X. You rarely have this situation play out on a Surface. The Keyboard is flipped behind for consumption, and flipped back for instant creation cycles. What these reviews always fail to acknowledge is the stuff we all do that isn’t quite consumption or creation – the stuff in the middle. The Surface can tackle all of these, and excels in the middle grey area. 3. Buggy Software Fact. Microsoft still can’t release a completely stable product decades later. The trackpad still disappears, the swipe to go back in IE is still awful/buggy, the Mail app has problems, Outlook has scaling problems, rumors of battery drain problem has been reintroduced, the trackpad app isn’t compatible with the new Type & Touch keyboards, and I believe I’ve had 12 different updates applied to my S2 since arriving on Tuesday. Quite simply, defects have slipped or been re-introduced from the first generation to the second generation and this is symptomatic of sloppy / disorganized QA, poor risk assessment, or leadership that is more worried about bottom line than customer experience. I’m not sure which. Now all of this being said, the overall experience is quite usable, but you will get annoyed from time to time. It is not bad enough to ruin the experience. However, I also wouldn’t call this Panos’ glorious achievement. 4. Doesn’t Live Up to the Hybrid Promise Fiction. I can’t believe they even wrote this. The improvements made from a hardware tier here most certainly set the stage for a quite nice hybrid experience. The multiple angles, the great screen, the touch options, the backlit keyboard, the multi touch trackpad, and a Type 2 keyboard that is excellent. It took some getting used to, but I really like the Type 2 keyboard – I wasn’t patient. Whenever someone tells me that “X device can just use Bluetooth keyboard” I always ask “which Bluetooth keyboard / tablet combo is better than Surface / Type 1.” Now it is even BETTER. Beyond this the Surface experience lets you have a mouse when you need it, touch when you need it, USB when you need it, external monitor when you need it, a big boy Office suite, and most importantly a UI that is great to use as a tablet OR computer. I think this is something a lot of people gloss over. Hating on Microsoft and Windows is so en-vogue that people who have never even used 8 / 8.1 on a touch capable device already hate it. Yes, Windows 8.1 is a bit harder to use with a mouse, but with a Surface it’s a breeze. I think another problem is people immediately hate it so they are looking for reasons to hate rather than looking for reasons to learn. Now that I’ve learned the UI the process of navigating Windows 8.1 with a mouse is a breeze. Enter touch and it gets even better. 5. Expensive Compared to iPad Air, Google Nexus 10, Samsung Note 10, etc. Fiction. Apple Air is $499 for 16GB, Nexus 10 is $399 for 16GB, Note 10 is $450 for 16GB, and the Surface 2 is $449 for 32GB. These reviewers all seem to drink some of the same dope juice, because they present numbers like this and then go on to belly ache about how you have to buy a “$120 or $130” keyboard. So now they pull a nifty little trick and tell us all the Surface 2 is $575ish while failing to mention A) how much a similar caliber bluetooth keyboard would cost for above tablets, and B) how the Surface 2’s battery life ranks against these when they are running a Bluetooth keyboard all day. They also fail to mention that for the money the Type 2 also includes an additional hardware component that does add to the BOM – a trackpad (Note 10 does have digitizer / stylus). However I do think if you compare the price relative to the number of overall apps the value of the Surface 2 does go down. However (again) if you compare the price relative to the number of staple apps (think 80/20 rule) + internet browser options the value also goes back up a bit. Since none of these can really do what the Surface does, it’s a really tough value proposition. However, once thing is for certain the Surface 2 is not horrendously overpriced and Microsoft’s $129 on the Type 2 is worth every penny in my book. I’m typing this essay on it. 6. Sleek buy Clumsy Software Faction. Yeah as mentioned earlier there’s a lot of bad software and big apps are missing, but there’s also quite a bit of the apps people use every day. I go back to the 80/20 rule. How much of the 80% is there or are we really complaining about lower value add 20% that’s missing. Probably a bit of both, but off the top of my head there is Netflix, Amazon, eBay, Abc, CBS, Plex, Twitter, Cnet, CNN, NFL, Redbox, Best Buy, Kayak, Onenote, Open Table, Flight Aware, and a lot of great games. It’s not the graveyard everyone makes it out to be, and Facebook just joined the party too. However the true fiction is calling it clumsy. Meh maybe the headlines sells papers, but accurate I don’t think so. In fact I think Microsoft’s decision for live tiles and flat 2d design is quite brilliant. Apps tend to scale great (maybe the best of all OS’s) to different size monitors, multi task windows, and screen orientation/rotation. If you want to see clumsy software, take the Android ecosystem for a spin and check out the apps in landscape vs. portrait. Much worse. Apple is still probably the best here, and that’s certainly because the apps are getting the best UI/UX people, it’s the most mature, and because the tablets can’t run dual apps. (As a side note, the author of the “Clumsy Software” article states that you pull down on live tiles to right click. I guess his Surface 2 came with Windows 8 instead of 8.1….only point that out since he played the clumsy card) Anyway that’s probably good enough for now. That’s at least the major gripes and one guy’s retort that tries to be fair. To close here are some things I’d like to see the Surface team add moving forward in no particular order: A) The Blank Slate. Microsoft should release blank slates that the open source community can then turn into their own creations like the DJ slate they created. Give the developers some room to run here. Bonus points if you can still have the touch keyboard function on the other side. B) Larger Screen + better pixel density. The width/height is perfect (especially with slates), but the black bezel is enormous by today’s standards. Surface 3 should be the same size with a larger screen with “retina” pixel density. C) Interactive Live Tiles. Bridge the gap between Widgets and Live Tiles a bit further. Provide the ability to interact with specific data on a live tile vs pure consumption. D) Quality Quality Quality. At some point here you have to stop being content with buggy and shoddy software releases. 900 billion write offs could hire a lot of premier IT talent. Are you certain you have the right people on this project? E) Trackpad Gold Standard. Take the trackpad on the type from good to great. The gold standard is still glass and look for ways to move the keyboard up, expand the trackpad, different materials, etc. F) Consolation prizes go to: More kickstand angle options, better speakers, and a stylus + internal stylus holder. Congratulations if you actually read all of this. I'm sure you are the minority.