08 Oct 2013

Microsoft Surface Pro Field Review: A Working Powerhouse

We spoke to two IT Administrators who have been trialling the Surface Pro in their organisations; Tarooj Syed a Systems Administrator for Architectus, and Leon Yuhanov the IT Manager for Philip Chun, to get their impressions on the Surface Pro in the workplace.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro was designed from the ground up as not ‘just another consumer tablet’, but rather a work powerhouse that would benefit business and consumers alike.

With the ability to run the full Office suite as well as the full range of applications that the Windows 8 operating system allows, the device also features heightened security through BitLocker for users that want to connect remotely to the work network. It’s also designed to be fun to use, with a powerful Intel processor enabling the ClearType HD display to produce 1080p resolution graphics, which is handy for watching movies or playing games when in the hotel room or at home on the weekend.

What they liked

As an alternative to the iPad, the Surface Pro tablet offers a suite of features that both Syed and Yuhanov felt were beneficial to their work.

“If I was going on holidays or travelling I would want to take the Surface Pro with me because I would then have a full-featured laptop or workstation with me. It doesn’t have the restrictions of the iPad,” Syed said.

Yuhanov was likewise impressed by the functionality of the tablets as Windows-based devices. This allows workers to take the devices on-site and annotate PDF documents on the spot. Previously, using an iPad, they would need to come back into the office for a lot of the annotation work thanks to incompatibilities between Apple and Microsoft software.

Both Yuhanov and Syed also agree that the feature set on the Surface Pro tablets is also superior. Being able to plug in USB devices is a major benefit for work, for instance, and provided you have access to a flat surface to type on, the built-in keyboard on the Surface Pro is comfortable and useful.

What they would like to see in the future

A lack of third-party peripherals is a minor issue, according to Yuhanov. “Because our field agents use these tablets, there is a risk they will drop them. With the iPad there are a lot of third party cases to choose from, and it would be great if Microsoft could at least release some if the third parties won’t,” he said.

For Syed there’s a couple of features he’d like updated in future version of the Surface Pro, but most critical on those is on the desktop side of the user interface. With the “tiles” interface having minimal applications for work, Syed would like to see the desktop interface improved with the ability to zoom more easily into the sometimes too-small screen.

Much of the feedback has since been addressed by Microsoft and was announced on Sept 23rd at the global launch of the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 in New York. Click here for more information about these new devices.

Overall

The Surface Pro is, as a workman’s tablet, in many ways superior to the Apple iPad, according to both Yuhanov and Syed, with a more open environment allowing for greater levels of customisation for working applications.

However, by the same token it is a fully-featured laptop, and perhaps not as assessable or “fun” to use as something like the iPad. Were there to be better personalisation options through third party peripherals and the like perhaps this would start to change.

Click here to see the Brennan IT Blog on the new Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2.

Top