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Why Did You Buy Your Surface Pro and How Do You Use It?

Wayne Orwig

Active Member
I've done software and hardware development on Windows systems for many years. So I have older Windows systems that I still do some development on. I also occasionally do repair work on motorcycles that requires a Windows compatible machine for the fuel injection diagnostics in the garage.
I few years back I converted to an Android phone from the Windows Mobile (Windows CE) phones because Microsoft dropped all support for the platform when they switched to Windows Phone. I still don't forgive MS for abandoning me on that platform. So needless to say, when I wanted a tablet, I got an Android tablet a long while back. But in the end, I found that I only ever used the tablet, as I do my phone, as a 'data consumption' device. It is great for reading the news, reading forums, or looking up parts specs, etc. But like my phone, the Android tablet wasn't much good at GENERATING data. I could barely work on spreadsheets and documents, and of course emails. But no support for many of the tools that I use to perform 'work'.
So, my daughter got a free Android tablet, and I have the Surface Pro. I can work on schematics, compile software, do the fuel injection diagnostics. I can in fact create Android tablet software on the Surface Pro tablet. That says something there. But just because I CAN do it, doesn't mean it will work out great. That remains to be seen and only time will tell. Ask me again in a month.


My Pro is effectively the replacement for my Thinkpad - nearly as powerful and so much lighter and more portable. It does everything a full on laptop would do and can still be picked up with one hand and used as a tablet. I like my RT - but it is a tablet ++; my Pro is a proper PC which just looks like a tablet.


Well-Known Member
KristalSoldier --

Well, nobody yet. In fact, nobody has got nuthin' yet. I'm still puzzling my way through it. I'm pretty sure the laptop will go to my older daughter. Her laptop is old and tired, but is her only computer. This is a fairly nice one (HP Envy), so will be a good step up for her. She can deal with the problem of her old one -- not I.

I may hang on to the RT & the iPad until my granddaughters (11 & 9) come to spend a month+ with me this summer. The 11 year old is spooky smart and curious, and with some help (namely, me) could learn to make good use of the RT. That would mean that the iPad goes to little sister, just to keep me out of trouble. Other choice is to give the RT to both of them to share, but I'm not sure that would work out well. I really am not keen on giving the iPad to the 9-year old, because she will do little but play games on it, and I would rather not encourage that. I gave both of them Kindle readers when they were here last year, and opened Amazon accounts for both of them. The 11-year old keeps her account busy -- the other account doesn't get used. So, . . . . I'm in a quandary, but fortunately can take my time with it.

Off topic, but just for your amusement, I'm a bachelor (widower, actually) and live alone, so having those two little girls here is quite a challenge. The last couple of times, I often found myself out among the trees, looking skyward and saying, "Hey, Baby, I need a little help here." Fortunately, my Ladyfriend helps a lot, but she has her company to run, so it's only on weekends. She takes them off to do "girl stuff," and I get a break.

I want the girls to be skilled computer users, because that is our world today and in their future. I sent them a desktop to share at home, and I set up a desktop here for them to use during their visits -- I may even do two this time. Playing games on them is fine, but should not be a full-time diet, because there is so much they can do to learn and expand their worlds.

Sooo, if I could make one of those Microsoft live circles of dots, I would, but the answer is, "I dunno yet, but I'm workin' on it."

Stay tuned; film at eleven, or sometime in June or July.

Take care,
It certainly sounds like you have your stuff (mental stuff, I mean) in order! Was just joking about the RT etc. But you are absolutely right...if we think we are living in an Age of Machine, imagine what the generation of your daughters are going to be living in. Personally, I would give the RT to the 11-year old (unless she has or will have in a year or so the need for non-RT programs - she might - school and all). Is there no way to lock down an iPad - I ask because I have never used one - only seen them from afar! But if you could, maybe you could give that to your younger one. After all, my first "computer" was an abacus and the iPad - at least in form - approximates that (though the Nexus 10) is even closer!

Also off-topic: Don't have kids and don't plan to. So can't even begin to comprehend the responsibility and commitment! But I am sure neither are lightweight!


Well-Known Member
My Pro is effectively the replacement for my Thinkpad - nearly as powerful and so much lighter and more portable. It does everything a full on laptop would do and can still be picked up with one hand and used as a tablet. I like my RT - but it is a tablet ++; my Pro is a proper PC which just looks like a tablet.
Interesting! My RT is my laptop -- (minus, minus) but only minimally. But, of course, that is because of my use pattern. Given my interests and job, I have very little exposure to what now passes for legacy apps.

PS: I will never get rid of my ThinkPad. I am addicted to them and will always have one around always! They reassure me of something (I don't know what), but they do. Crazy? Sentimental? I'd agree, but there you have it!


Active Member
Was just joking about the RT etc.. . . After all, my first "computer" was an abacus
KristalSoldier --

Yeah, I knew you were kidding about the RT, 'cause you already got one.

An abacus, huh? With the sliding buttons and such? Hey, my Ladyfriend is a whiz with one of those things; she is from China and prob'ly a little older than you, so that was state-of-the-art stuff for her back then.

I probably will end up giving the RT to the older girl, and, if she needs something more in a year or so, well, that's what Grandfathers are for. I don't know much about the iPad either, even though I own one (another of Ladyfriend's impulsive gestures). All I have really ever used it for is a reader. I'll likely give it to the younger one, but I wouldn't "lock it down" even if I knew how. Sometimes you gotta let them find their own way, and just nudge them from time to time.

Ok, that problem is solved. Thanks for the help.

Take care,


Active Member
I got mine to replace my ThinkPad W700.

I specifically wanted the tablet form factor and not an ultrabook/smaller laptop, because with the change in job, I now have to travel with a company laptop. Thus, I am now able to easily travel with 2 PCs, no issues; that certainly would not have been possible if I held on to my W700. :)

The fact that I easily can pack the SP and its accessories is my laptop bag fantastic. I use the Nixon sleeve and all its accessories are in the external pocket of the sleeve, so it is rather simple to pack and unpack it from my laptop bag.


Well-Known Member
The more I work with the SP the more my way of using it is evolving. Some things you just don't know how you will feel about until you try them.

My initial intent was to use the displayport to extend the SP to another monitor and use the SP to take notes while I use the larger monitor to handle my database, etc - anywhere I needed more real estate. However, this ran into 3 problems:

1) The requisite 150% zoom for the SP made my 21.5 1920 x 1080 monitor look like crap.
2) Being tethered to the monitor via the displayport cramped my style as far as freely moving the SP around my desktop to take notes.
3) It was always a challenge getting an app to open on the desired screen since I had to choose a default monitor.

So, what I have done is setup my desktop as my main computer running the monitor (better for games, etc too) and using the SP separately for taking notes, etc. I am keeping the two devices synced via Dropbox realtime. An additional benefit of this is that I can put both my desktop and SP on a Home Group and share the Desktop's printer and abundance of storage space with the SP.

Once again it is confirmed to me that my SP is best suited in a support role. That primarily is because as a note taking device I need to be able to physically move it around quickly, requiring the least possible wires.


New Member
I have been waiting for some time for them to come out with a combo of a tablet and a computer so I could use it for my job. I'm able to do everything I want to with this one and it's about time. Loving it!


New Member
After using my ThinkPad X61 Tablet for 7 years (still running smoothly with Windows 7 Ent), I want a smaller form factor which I can carry everywhere I go all the time while still keeping a full Windows platform for truly mobile computing. I still carry my iPad2 for games, videos, and quick general web surfing. Together, they make a perfect combination.


New Member
I would say I bought the SP primarily to use as an "inking" tablet with which I can easily keep my files in sync with other Windows computers. Two major ways that I use inking are for taking notes (e.g. in OneNote) and for annotating PDFs. For the latter, I am an academic researcher and I have >1000 PDFs that I need to keep organized and synchronized among devices, which is possible through desktop programs like EndNote. For the past 5 years I was using a ThinkPad X61 Tablet, which allowed me to get these tasks done but with a relatively slow, bulky and hefty device compared with the SP. One of the reasons I really like the SP is that it is much easier to carry around and quickly get some work done when I am on the go, which might just be a few minutes while waiting for a shuttle or train. In addition, the screen resolution was much lower on my X61t (1024x768), so in portrait mode the text never looked clear, whereas the PDFs look crisp on the SP despite the smaller screen (this has also been a big contrast between the SP and many lower-resolution Android tablets with similar dimensions). I tried reading and annotating PDFs on the iPad for comparison, and while it has a great display (and I do like the 4:3 aspect ratio for reading), the lack of an active digitizer meant I had to use a capacitive stylus for annotation which is much more difficult. In addition, the lack of an accessible file system on iOS made it nearly impossible to efficiently synchronize my extensive library of PDFs (the built in app functions seem designed only to handle small folders as my folder took >30 min to synchronize even if I had just changed one file (!), which was effectively useless on a daily basis).

One other key feature for me to purchase the SP (versus say the other Win8 tablets already out and upcoming ThinkPad helix) was that I really love the idea of the type/touch covers. I want to occasionally use a keyboard, but I don't want to carry around a heavy keyboard docking base, nor do I want to have some rather cumbersome Bluetooth keyboard cover. Having a lightweight cover for the screen, that I can flip back when inking, and then flip forward when I want to type, is a truly unique innovation that makes the SP ideal for what I want to do. I had found with the X61t that due to the need to flip around the screen, wait for the orientation to change, etc., I tended to use it only in laptop mode or only in tablet mode, but very rarely switch between the two.

Unlike some others, I have not seen the SP as a suitable 'laptop' replacement. I use the type cover and can of course hook up the SP to desktop docking peripherals, but I tend to do a lot of work on a laptop and for that purpose want a bigger screen, full size keyboard/touchpad, etc. So I also just bought an Asus UX31A to use as a lightweight ultrabook with a 13" screen and large touchpad. This was a better solution for me than the convertible laptop/tablet hybrids due to the reasons mentioned above, as on many days all I need to carry with me is the flexible and relatively lightweight SP (as a side note, I realize it is heavier than the RT or iPad, but it is hard to beat in terms of weight when using the type cover compared to other devices with a keyboard).


Active Member
Funny, my wife asked the same question. I got a Surface Pro to be able to run full Digital Audio Workstation applications (e.g. Sonar X2). I also got it to do software development, play a few games, and anything else I would want a full laptop to do only in a more compact form factor.
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