Me · Obsessions · Writing

Microsoft Surface 2 – a non-techie’s review of why she fired her iPad

I’ve wanted to blog about my Surface 2 since I bought it back in October.  Yeah, it’s January and I’m just now getting around to it, but better late than never, eh?

Let me start by saying that you will find no hard technical specs comparisons to other devices in this post because, frankly, the average user doesn’t care much about that stuff.  In fact, if you start rambling on about processor speed and screen resolution, I’m going to tune you out faster than a Taylor Swift song.  What we want are devices that ingrain themselves into our lives and become invaluable to us, right? Well, stay tuned.

My history of tablets is a bit crazy.  I love new technologies and always try to get the latest and the greatest.  I had the first version of the iPad until I sold it and got the first incarnation of the Kindle Fire.  Then I got rid of that and bought the iPad Mini, which I loved all the way up until the moment I started hating it (same goes with the iPhone I eventually replaced with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.)  Basically, I’ve treated my tablets in much the same way a teenager treats her love life – all encompassing passion until it flames out five minutes later.

Why did I get rid of the iPad, which is supposed to be the most OH MY GOD SO AMAZING HOLY CRAP I THINK I JUST GAVE BIRTH TO BABY ANGELS piece of technology to ever exist?  Well, because it’s… boring.  Like, seriously.  I consider myself a writer and trying to write on an iPad is like trying to eat soup with chopsticks.  Sure, I bought one of those cases with a built-in keyboard, and once I’d typed my first sentence on that keyboard, I realized I was screwed. To make the keyboard case fit the size and dimensions of the iPad, the keys have to be moved around.  A QWERTY keyboard, it ain’t.  So you think you’re typing a typically normal sentence and you’re typing away (but you’re a fast typer and you’re not even looking at the keyboard or the screen while you type) and when you finally do look at the screen, your sentence looks like this:

The wind ble; her hair’ lifting it viol^ntly];

After you’re done asking the Apple gods why they can apparently change the weather but can’t make a keyboard that doesn’t suck, you close out of the (completely, totally crappy) word processing app that also makes you swear like a shore-bound sailor because it’s so useless.  Then you open up Netflix because… well, what else are you gonna do with a writing tablet that won’t actually let you write?

Back in October, I became obsessed with wanting a Surface.  I saw the commercials and thought that it was a tablet that was more like a laptop than anything else I’d seen on the market.  I read the reviews, of course, and was apprehensive because they were all basically saying the same  negative things. (“This is no iPad! There are no apps! You might as well use this as a drink coaster!”) Once I realized that those were probably written by people who’d never even touched a Surface, I decided to try one out for myself, in much the same way that I refuse to believe movie reviews and will see a panned movie anyway.  I went to Fry’s Electronics (also known as Santa’s Workshop for Adults) and started playing with one they had on display.  I expected not to be impressed because, ya know, it ain’t Apple, but I totally was!  With the Type Cover attached to it (QWERTY keyboard in da house!!!), the Surface seemed like the most well-rounded tablet I’d ever seen.  And then, HOLY CRAP, I realized that it had Microsoft Office on it.  Word. Excel. Powerpoint. Outlook!!!  WORD!  As a writer, no other word processor is as nice or easy to use as Word.  As a writer who likes to shove her tablet into her bag and go write in odd places like the library or her grandmother’s basement, the idea of having Word at my beck-and-call was really appealing. And then I saw the USB port built into the side.  I swear, I heard an angel choir sing when I realized I could actually hook this thing up to a printer or my thumb drive or my external hard drive.  The possibilities were endless!  Needless to say, I bought it!  I came home, listed my iPad Mini for sale on Amazon, and never looked back.

Three months later, I can truthfully say that I adore my Surface.  No, it doesn’t have all the apps that the iPad has, but I realized something – I don’t need those apps!  They were just taking up space and I never used 97% of them anyway. The apps that I love and use (Netflix, Hulu, Kindle, Nook, and WordPress, to name a few) are all there.  The display on it is a beautiful, crystal clear wide screen.  Personalizing the desktop is fun because you can download all of Microsoft’s gorgeous background options and then you, too, can enjoy a starry night over a quaint German cabin. (I like pretty backgrounds and iPad never gave me that option much, either.)

See!  What a gorgeous starry night!
See! What an awesome starry night!

I loaded it with all 10 episodes of The Pacific because, not only does it have the storage capacity to handle it, it plays multiple types of files flawlessly through the Xbox Video player.  And (this is the cherry on top!) I get a little bit of a thrill when I click my keyboard into place and start typing.  The Type Cover 2 keyboard doesn’t require batteries, like all the iPad keyboards/keyboard cases do.  In fact, you don’t even need a case at all because the Surface has a kickstand built right into the body!

THIS RIGHT HERE outclasses other tablets!
THIS RIGHT HERE outclasses other tablets!

Just put a screen protector on it, close your Type Cover, and  you’re ready to go!

Basically, my 900 words of rambling can be summarized like this – I love my Surface 2!  I don’t miss my iPad at all.  In fact, for the first time in probably three years, I’ve found a piece of technology that feels like “home”, meaning that I don’t intend on casting it aside for something else.  It’s functional, it’s beautiful, and it makes me more productive.  In fact, I’ve written more since I’ve had the Surface than at any time in the past 12 months.  For a writer whose barely written due to writer’s block, I feel empowered again.  I love writing.  I love words. I love creating little worlds full of interesting characters with which I can escape for a while.  And my Surface helps me get there.

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11 thoughts on “Microsoft Surface 2 – a non-techie’s review of why she fired her iPad

  1. Hi Rachel what a great review. You’re right about the specs thing. Its just numbers if it doesn’t work. I have a note 3 too and I love it. I really just can’t get on with Apple products as they dictate what you can do and what you can’t do on it.

    1. Have you had any issues with dropped calls with your Note 3? I’m on Sprint and, for a while, I couldn’t even take a call inside my house because the call would drop instantly. It’s apparently a Samsung firmware issue coupled with a Sprint network issue, but it’s maddening. I DO love the device, though. That dang S Pen is SOO handy!!!

    2. Hi ya,
      I have no issues with dropped calls I must say and I am on O2 in the UK. The only issueci have had is the wifi dropping off for a second or so then reconnecting again. I have heard that the Andoid update to KitKat 4.4 should cure some of the issues. Let me know how it goes.

    3. Yes, let me know! That KitKat 4.4 update is only coming to you all across the pond so far. It’s not on the horizon for we users in the US anytime soon.

  2. On Christmas morning, we added two more Surfaces to our house (one for each of the girls) for a total of three. The are a great addition to our homeschool program and my girls love them.

    1. Aww that’s awesome that you’ve incorporated it into your homeschooling! I’ve often wondered how homeschooling fared with the distractions of modern technology mucking things up. I bet you have very strict limitations on the use, yes?

    2. My girls are only 4 & 6 yrs old. They aren’t given access to social media (way too young for that), but both have email accounts. My 4-yr-old is just learning her letters, so she doesn’t know how to access email. My 6-yr-old is learning how to use email, but only able to email my husband and I or her aunts. It’s used as a tool for her to practice her spelling, language and punctuation skills. Since we live in a highly technical world, it is as important for them to learn how to use a computer as it is for them to learn how to write with pencil and paper. While I’m working with my 6-yr-old on reading, my 4-yr-old is on the Surface learning her letters. While I’m working with my 4-yr-old on her scissors skills, my 6-yr-old is working on a math app on her Surface. In many ways, it has made homeschooling so much easier. Of course now that they are learning the technology, we have to carefully monitor their use and the time they spend on the Surface. But it’s great technology!

  3. I agree. I personally find apple mobile devices (especially tablets) to be RIDICULOUSLY overrated and overpriced. It’s almost offensive how much Apple gets away with charging for them.

    This past Christmas I got a Kindle Fire HDX for half the price of an iPad mini and I absolutely love it. Yes, like you said- it doesn’t have all the apps but I’ve found apps themselves are incredibly overrated and can be a big waste of money. I’m glad you are enjoying your surface.

    1. One of my favorite things I own is my Kindle Paperwhite. As much as I love my Surface and my Note 3, the easiest and simplest way for me to read is on my Paperwhite because it’s just purely FOR reading. And I can read in the dark since it’s internally lit. Amazon makes beautiful products and really doesn’t make any profit off of the devices themselves because the content customers purchase is where the profits come from. So you can get a fantastic device and not have your bank account robbed!

  4. The Apple Smitten Press has it all wrong, that’s for sure. The Surface is THE ultimate tablet on the market today. No other tablet is as flexible and connectable as the Surface. And it does in fact have the apps you need and a lot more. Every tablet will have apps the others don’t. But like you, I found 97% of them don’t do me any good. Surface has what I need and it works fantastic! Fast, easy and more simple to get real work done.

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