Microsoft Surface Pro 3

#SurfacePro3 #Surface

 

Well, well, well, I can confirm that the Surface Pro 3 does actually exist.  In the UK mine rocked up on Thursday 28th August 2014 as anticipated. WP_20140828_14_56_05_Pro
When you open the box you have the tablet WP_20140828_15_46_16_Pro
Under it the is the pen, the user guide and the power supply.You have to put the battery in the pen, and the power supply does have a USB port on it too, which is good. WP_20140828_15_46_46_Pro

Now the surface pro as been to the phat farm! The original Surface RT comes in at 689g, while the Surface Pro tips the scales at 913g (My Lenovo Helix is 851g). The Surface Pro 3 is only 804g! and a lot bigger.

As a comparison, this is the Surface Pro vs Surface Rt WP_20140828_15_45_03_Pro

While the Surface Pro vs Surface Pro 3.  So for people in the UK, the Surface Pro 3 is about the size of a sheet a A4 paper. WP_20140828_15_51_21_Pro

To top it off you can see how much thinner the Surface Pro 3 is to a Surface Pro (on the right) WP_20140828_15_55_02_Pro
Now for the keyboards!  Shame Microsoft doesn’t bundle them in with the surface.  The surface Pro 3 is larger than the Surface Pro, so the keyboard are bigger WP_20140828_15_43_37_Pro
What is kinda cool is that the keyboard lights up up ;-) WP_20140829_22_44_14_Pro
Right, let get down to it then. So I have the core i7 version and it quite nippy as you would expect. It has 512GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. sp3_cpuz1

sp3_cpuz2

The screen is very nice sp3_display

sp3_cpuz3

I have only been using my Surface Pro 3 since Thursday, and have not had the chance to really using it in anger.  However, I have performed a really basic battery test.From fully charged (The manual says it takes 2-4 hours to fully charge your Surface Pro 3 battery from an empty state),  I have watched 4x50min episodes of a TV series from an external hard disk.After the first one the battery went from 100% to 85% and the last 3 used ~ 20% of battery each leaving me with 10% and a low battery warning.For me this ok!  I don’t have anything else to compare it against but I can live with that.  So on Monday, I used my Surface Pro 3 “normally” on WiFi, VPN’ed to work, using an RDP session, PowerPoint, word and a bit of windows powershell. End result was around 6 hours use.  I feel that is acceptable.Oh by the way, the video play back was awesome and the audio was good too!
This is taken from the surface pro 3 user guide http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/userguides with some comments.Touchscreen: The 12” touchscreen, with its 3:2 aspect ratio and 2160 x 1440 resolution display. Multi-touch lets you use your fingers to select, zoom, and move things around.Surface Pen: Enjoy a natural writing experience, with a pen that feels like an actual pen. [It actually does feel really nice and has a good weight to it too!]

Kickstand: Flip out the Surface Pro 3 kickstand to any angle and work or play comfortably at your desk, .on the couch, or while giving a hands-free presentation. Choose the angle that’s right for you. [This is really strange.  If flips out to one angle, but then you need to move it to adjust it more.  At first it feels like your going to break it!]

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Surface supports standard Wi-Fi protocols (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth® 4.0 Low Energy technology.

Two cameras and two microphones: Two 5-megapixel cameras for recording videos and taking pictures. Both cameras record video in 1080p, with a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen).

Stereo speakers and headset jack: Stereo speakers with Dolby® enhanced sound and headset jack.

Full-size USB 3.0 port: Connect USB accessories—like a mouse, printer, or an Ethernet adapter.

microSD card reader: Use the microSD card reader [This is what my Lenovo Helix is missing!].

Mini DisplayPort 1.2: Share what’s on your Surface Pro 3 by connecting it to an HDTV, monitor, or projector.

Charging port and 36-watt power supply: Connect the included 36-watt power supply when your battery is low [Has a USB port in it too!].

Processor: 4th generation Intel® Core™ i3, i5, i7

Storage and Memory: Choose from 64GB or 128GB storage with 4GB RAM, or 256GB or 512GB storage with 8GB RAM.

TPM: TPM chip [Now this is interesting, by default the C drive is bitlocker encrypted!].

Sensors: Surface has four sensors (an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer).

Surface-Pro-3Surface-Pro-3-Back

So, what do I think? Well I have used a lot of tablets over the years.  It started with a Toshiba M400 and my last one was a Lenovo Helix.  The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is by far the best I have used. Size, weight and usability are excellent, the only thing that lets it down is the price, and with I mean the extra cost for the keyboard. If it wanted anything else, I would say another usb3 and maybe 3g, but that is all.

But so far I love it!

#Lenovo Helix

Its been a while since my original post [June 2013], and I wanted to update you on how my Helix and I was getting along.

Let me start by saying I had hoped it would be “the” laptop for me, but it’s not.  Its lacking two key things for me that would make a lot of difference and make it awesome.

The two things it is missing are a microsd slot and an accessible USB port!

Why you say? So I am working on a powerpoint off a USB.  I have to go to a meeting, but its one of those where you know your not going to have to do much, so you just want to take the tablet and leave the dock at you desk.  Have you seen the issue yet?  My USB stick is plugged in to the keyboard dock, so I have save and close powerpoint, eject the USB, remove the tablet from the dock and then reinsert in the USB stick in the bottom of the tablet!  It would be sooooooooooo much better there was a USB port was on the side of the tablet!

Next is the microsd.  I typically was TV on the way to work in the morning.  I currently use a Microsoft Surface RT to do just that.  With the USB ports in the bottom of the Helix tablet it’s a pain in the butt to balance the tablet on your lap with a USB sticking out the bottom.  The Helix has a full size SIM slot in the bottom as well as two stupid label trays.  Why not make the sim slot a mini or micro sim and have a tray that can take a microsd, in similar way to the Nokia tablet?

.. and finally, the Pen.  You can ink with the bad boy, but unlike my two previous tablets, the pen doesn’t have an eraser!  Huh? Aye, on the Tosh you write with one end and then turn it around and erase with the other! Cool, but not with the Helix!

Anyway, rant off.  I use my Helix every day and it does what I need, but could do better! A few simple things could make the Helix 2 even better.

Nokia Lumina 925

#Lumina #Nokia #WindowsPhone

So my latest toy has rocked up!

image

So I am an iPhone user.  I have had 3gs and currently have a 4.  I suppose deep down, when Apple went to war with Samsung, I thought Apple had turned in to a bully!  So when my iPhone started playing up, I decided to drop Apple and look elsewhere.  That really left 3, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile.

What I don’t like about Android is the open nature of the apps.  Yes as an OS it’s looks great and has some awesome devices, but no.  BlackBerry, well no thanks ;-).  I suppose I was always going to get a Windows Mobile device.  I have had many in the past, so  It was just a matter of time.  I thought about and Lumina 920, but then got a hint that something new was in the pipeline so held off.  The 925 is what is new!

As it goes, it was also time for to switch mobile provider.  I have been with T-Mobile in the UK for ages, and for the last few months the signal has been pants.  I look around at price plans and EE is soooo expensive.  All I want is unlimited data, and a bit of calls and text.  I am looking at the EE website now, and to get say 1GB a month will set you back £41!.. So I settled for 3.  For £34 a month, I get a FREE Nokia Lumia 925, as much data as I want and more calls & texts than I could ever use. You know what is funny, when I called T-Mobile to asked for a PAC code, all of a sudden the prices of phones and contracts fell through the floor, but that doesn’t fix the issue of bad signal!

Lets get started ..

… with the boring stuff shall we.  I was disappointed the phone didn’t come fully charged, so had to wait for a full charge.

Phat Farm was interesting, it is actually 1g lighter than my iPhone 4 .. but a lot bigger!

Nokia Lumia 925 

<- 70.6mm ->

Nokia Lumia 925
<-  8.5 mm ->

Height: 129 mm
Width: 70.6 mm
Thickness2: 8.5 mm
Weight: 139 g

The display is lovely.  It’s 768×1280 and the glass just wraps in to the case. When it comes to phone screens I am a nightmare.  I nearly always put a phone in my pocket with change or keys. The glass on the 925 is Corning Gorilla Glass 2, but I don’t trust myself, so will look out for a Zagg invisibleshield. 

One problem I have found is that the device is nice in the hand, but slippery.  A number of times I have almost dropped it.  I find that the top of my hand sits well below the back camera, and that seems to be good for me.

It has a Dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4  processor (whatever that means), all that matters to me is that it performs really quite nicely.  I have not noticed any lag when switching apps or downloading. 

It comes with 32GB of storage and no micro-SD slot, but to be honest, I am going to use it play music or watch video, I have a Microsoft Surface RT for that.  It funny, years ago I wanted just one device to do everything.  This meant not getting the best device, but a middle of the road one.  These days, I just want a device to do what is says on the box, and get what I think is best for me.  Yeah I know I could put loads of music or videos on my 925, but I want to save the battery.  There is nothing worse than wanting to make a phone or check something on the web, and you device only has 10% battery.  I just hate that!

My 925 is running Windows Phone 8.0 [8.0.10327.77] with the Lumia Amber software, and it was made in Hungary.

I borrowed these off the Nokia website.  Basically 4 buttons on the side with headphone and micro-USB on the top.

FRONT

Items listed left
to right or top to bottom. On front of phone: touch screen. Above
screen: earpiece, front camera, proximity sensor/ambient light sensor.
Below screen: back key, start key, search key. At bottom: microphone. With front of phone facing you,
on top edge: micro-SIM card holder, micro-USB connector, connector
for headphones and loudspeakers. On right edge: volume keys,
combined power and lock key, camera key.

1 – Micro-SIM holder

2 – Micro-USB connector

3 – Connector for headphones and loudspeakers (3.5 mm)

4 – Front camera

5 – Proximity/Light sensor

6 – Volume keys

7 – Power/Lock key

8 – Camera key

9 – Back key

10 – Start key

11 – Search key

12 – Microphone

13 – Earpiece

 

BACK

Items listed top
to bottom. With back of phone facing you: camera lens, wireless charging
connectors, loudspeaker.

14 – Camera flash

15 – Back camera

16 – Wireless charging connectors

17 – Loudspeaker

It also has a couple of other things of interest. On the each corner there is what look looked like an LED.  Not sure what they are for.

Apps

So this is probably the most disappointing thing about the phone.  Yeah I know Microsoft is trying to get people to write Apps, but there is no comparison to the Apple, or Google app stores.  Why can’t Microsoft just make it so?!  They are a software company.  Find the most popular apps and just port them to Windows Phone?

The killer for me is no official Starbuck Apps (come on Starbucks you started just a stones throw from Microsoft in Seattle, fly the Seattle flag and bring us an app! pleeeeeeeeeease!) but I did find one that let me “scan with phone”.  The app store is searchable which is good and easy to navigate. 

Icons on the start screen have 3 sizes. 

image 

Not apps have “Live Tiles” which is a shame.  Flick to the left and get the app list.  To start with this is just a list of the apps.  When you reach some kind of threshold, it changes to an ordered list.  What is cool is that you can tap say A and a new list appear.  Tap on a letter and then is goes to apps.  If you pin an app to the start screen, it’s one tap to load.  If you don’t, it’s one swipe and 3 taps away.  Once you get used to it, it’s really fast.  On an iPhone it’s find the container, tap to expand it and tap to open the app.  I always had trouble with the small icons on the iPhone and the 925 with Windows Phone 8 make it nice and easy!

Battery Life

I suppose battery life is a common problem with any phone.  it has a 2000 mAh battery which is quite quick to charge.  So far so good, it lasts more than a day, and I have seen that with WiFi off it last longer.

So what do I think?

The device is great, and I think a lot of people are saying the same.  I compared it to Matt’s Lumina 920 and was surprised at how much smarter the 925 is.  Not only thinner, bit it looks good.

What isn’t great are the Apps!  Microsoft has a very long way to catch up with Apple and Google, which does make me hang my head in shame, as Microsoft used to be a big player in the mobile phone arena with Windows Mobile.

I am still getting used to the new OS, but so far it easy to use.  What is quite nice is that the device gives you hints and tips when you do things.  For example, to delete email in the mail app, I was pressing and holding on the message and a dialog would allow me to delete.  It suggested you tap to the left of the message to select and delete!

I have not had any kind of serious play with an Android, so can’t comment, but if your not an App monster, I would take the Nokia Lumina 925 over any iPhone.  It looks nice, feels nice and is more than fast enough for what I need.

 

An FYI.  If you want a new phone and you are out of contract, the just threaten to leave!  Most mobile providers will bend over backwards to keep you!  Also remember that reception is key.  You may get 2000 minutes of calls and unlimited data, but that is useless if you have no signal!

Microsoft Surface RT and Bluetooth Headphones

Interesting (honest) !! So I normally watch TV series on my to work in the morning and for quite a while I have not used my Bluetooth headphones.

So this morning, I thought, what the hell, they are charged, lets give them a go!

MISTAKE! big stylie.  Connected them up and started to watch an MKV and the surface ran like a 3 legged dog.  Playback was just not happening in shape or form.

Shut the Bluetooth headphone off, jacked in a wired set and hey presto, back to normal.

Tried it with music too, with the same problem.  I remember this being a problem when I first tried this with my RT, and it appears it’s still not fixed :-|

 

NCIS: Los Angeles

#NCISLA

Watching the new series of NCIS: Los Angeles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCIS:_Los_Angeles) at the moment .. is that an ASUS eee Slate I see them using?

http://www.asus.com/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Slate_EP121/

Its running windows, and using what looks like msn messenger and skydrive!

GO Microsoft and asus for product placement!

TechReview: Samsung Omnia

Okay, so I couldn’t resist any more and I upgraded my phone to an 8gb Samsung Omnia (Thanks Dan for getting it in for me).  Here is my first every YouTube post :-| The quality is okay … I have been playing with another toy, a Oregon Scientific ActionCam ATC5K.

So the Samsung SGH-i900 aka Omnia has a 3.2” WQVGA (240×400) touchscreen display, a 5 megapixel camera with Auto Focus and flash, TV Out, FM Radio and runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional

Bundled with the device (in the ROM) is the usual collection of Windows Mobile apps, plus an RSS & Podcast Reader, video editing software, Office Mobile , Opera and touch enabled call log, phone book and a touch player.

It can do HSDPA up to 7.2Mbps and has Wi-FI and Bluetooth 2.0 and embedded GPS

It measures 112 x 56.9 x 12.5 mm and comes in at 125g

The Omnia can come with either 16gb or 8gb of internal storage (it would appear that in the UK orange is the only one offering the 16gb version) and takes a micro-sd by the battery (currently the largest you can get is 16gb)

When I first started to use it wanted to put in the bin.  It was a complete pile of rubbish, as the bundled software is a small shell over Windows Mobile 6.1 and that is it.  Taking to Sean he showed me spb menu, which has make a hell of a difference to the phone and makes it “touch”able.  In addition I downloaded google maps, which works really well with the built in GPS.

Battery life is interesting. With active sync on, it generally gives me a day (if I am lucky) which is a bit bad.  Another thing is it get hot! on the back near the bottom.

The camera is nice an easy to use and the picture are quite good quality

SNC00012

and the video seems a bit “low” res

Voice quality is excellent both and the screen is crystal clear and bright. The accelerometer can be really annoying, as it’s seems very sensitive, even when you put it to the lowest setting.  The Omina also offers vibration feedback. Enabled by default, the device vibrates every you do anything

So what do you get in the box …  well

  • Battery
  • Plug Charger
  • USB Cable
  • PC Software CD
  • Standard Headset
  • Stylus (that can’t be “inserted” in to the phone) but can be attached!

 

On the whole it has a nice weight and sits well in your hand.  It seems quite responsive and my 8gb model rocks now that I have added a 16gb micro sd.

So am I happy parting my well earned cash?  Yeah I am now, thanks to spb menu .. BUT I was very close to returning it!

Samsung Omnia

The Samsung Omnia has made it’s way up on to the T-Mobile website at last (orange has it out about a month go)

http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/shop/mobile-phones/phones/pay-monthly/samsung/omnia/overview/

Spoke to a shop today and they should have it in tomorrow .. only issue is that it looks like the 8gb one! and not the 16gb!