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In Store Testing Of Surface Pro


schoondoggy
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On Saturday I spent time at the Microsoft store, got to test a Pro in depth. My concern has been 1920x1080 on a 10.6" screen, looks great for graphics, but will the text be too small for work. I brought in a USB stick with some files I normally use and it looked good and worked well. Even in dense spreadsheets. I also used the pen for input and I was very impressed. I forgot to try the pen input on a blank PPT slide, white-boarding, anyone tried pen in PowerPoint? All in all, the Surface Pro has moved back to the top of my list for a work device. Now I need to get the project going with IT. 

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schoondog, I have been using the Pro for about 2 weeks now. I replaced my Lenovo W520 lappie with it. The resolution on the 10.6" screen could definitely be a drawback for some folks. Personally, I don't have a huge issue with it for two reasons. First, my eyesight is still pretty good. I am the only one in my family who doesn't have to wear glasses so I know my time is coming, but for right now, I don't find it bothersome (and I have the DPI set to 100%). At that setting, touch on the desktop gets a little difficult (not impossible, but tougher) so I tend to default to either an external mouse or the trackpad on the Type Cover. Second, (as I am writing this, in fact) I have the Surface sitting on my desk hooked up to a 24" flat panel. Everything look perfect and is *easily* readable. In my limited time with the device, I find that when I am working on the tablet away from my desk, the screen is close enough that having the desktop scaled to 100% (versus the 125% or 150% that others have written about) works okay. I wouldn't want to have to work on the Surface at that resolution, at arms-length, but that's not the way I worked on my laptop either so there's no change for me from that standpoint.

 

Hopefully that makes sense. If you have any other questions/concerns, please don't hesitate to ask.

 

All things considered, I would rate this device very highly. I am going to enjoy the Pro and I am certainly looking forward to other contenders coming into the fray as the year(s) progresses.

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Argh! I completely forgot to mention the pen input stuff. Here's my brief experience so far:

 

1. Hand writing notes in OneNote works *really* well. The pen is super responsive and while I don't think it will be possible to replicate the feeling of dragging a pen/pencil across paper, the e-ink shows up quick enough that you're not going to have that brain/hand disconnect that happens when you write and there's some delay between your stroke and the appearance of the e-ink.

2. Having said that, even when I print my letters near perfectly, the ink-to-text function has yet to translate my jottings correctly. It's like Apple's auto-correct got drunk and then decided the best way to sober up was to drink some more. It's downright horrible.

3. I have not tried marking anything up in PowerPoint, but I will give that a shot and report back. I would imagine that it will be a similar experience to One Note - writing will be nice but translation will be anything but.

 

The pen is there and is implemented (from a hardware perspective) really well. As long as software developers make pen-aware applications, they have a solid hardware foundation to take advantage of. Hopefully that means things will get even better down the road.

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Quick pen update.

 

You can definitely ink in PowerPoint. You actually have a couple of interesting options. First, you can ink on the slide as you're making it. Your handwriting will show up on the slide just as if you hand-printed it. I can't find any handwriting-to-text conversion (like the one in OneNote). That's not a bad thing - that function in One Note isn't great. The second option, which is really interesting, is that you can ink on slides while you're running a slideshow. You're then given the option to save the ink to the slide. I can see this working really well in team meetings or brainstorming sessions.

 

For what it's worth, I have used the pen exclusively to write this post. You are given the option to select a pen-entry box in place of the on-screen keyboard and it works surprisingly well. Full disclosure - it took me a lot longer to handwrite this than it would have to just type it, but it definitely works and it works very well.

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OMG, being able to diagram on PP slides during a live presentation is a game changer. I can't count how many times I've seen people want to do this.

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Absolutely!

Me and the engineers on my team are constantly delivering training. The ability to 'white board' on your slides and save it to send home with the attendees is huge. This also enables white board training over webinars. To do that in the past has required Wacom tablets.

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One last disclaimer - I am using Office 2013. I don't know if this feature is limited to this release (I am not planning on installing 2010 to test), but it's definitely there. I also spent some time with a client today showing them how they could mark-up a Word document in the same manner. Both inking notes and highlighting with a pen. Very cool stuff - I was worried the pen was going to find a limited audience with artists, designers, etc, but with the ability to mark-up notes, I will be able to utilize it a lot more too!

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