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The Surface is amazing!

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  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    I wanted to just highlight some of the awesome Surface and Windows RT features ... the Travel app with the panoramas really feels like "virtual tourism", just like Blaise from the Photosynth/Bing team described years ago.  It's like a bloody window in hi-def, you can move it around 360 degrees ... so cool ... the wife and I were both just delighted.

    You simply have to spend a bunch of time playing with the multi-touch and Start Screen and all the applications to really "get" semantic zoom - it's fantastic.  Some apps do it better than others, but the whole concept works great with multi-touch.  The animations in the apps are great and in IE for example, the divs bounce around and it's just fun to play around with bouncing stuff around.  Try "pinning" down part of the app or Start Screen with one thumb while pushing things around with the other thumb ... try moving an app tile with one thumb, by positioning the Start Screen over the thumb first, then hold, drag up slightly, and then while holding the tile down, semantic zoom out, slide the screen, zoom in, drop ... lots of fun, works well, but takes a bit of practice.

    I'm literally learning new ways of using the different modalities every time I play with it.  Combined with the Kinect and Smartglass, you have the option of switching back and forth between gestures, touch, and voice - and/or keyboard and mouse and/or Xbox controller.  I find myself switching a lot and it's becoming more and more fluid to do so. 

    I am truly blown away by the Surface hardware.  Any performance issues I've heard about, I haven't really experienced except when data is loading in some applications that haven't implemented progress indicators as well as others.  Sometimes IE does freeze up a bit on certain pages, but less than IE9 ever did ... it's not often a problem, but not perfect.  Sometimes things slow down a bit because you tend to leave apps open, but I am surprised at how well it works to just leave things running.  If things get slow in one app, I just flick the left thumb to switch apps and do something else for a little bit and go back ... if it's still hung, I close it.  I've only had to use Task Manager to kill a process 3 times since I got the Surface a week ago (and those problems were mostly with Word and Excel and once with IE that I had to kill it).

    Xbox Smartglass is fantastic, and I see a lot more potential.  Some of the features are not as discoverable, like being able to search YouTube with the keyboard on the Surface - that's because YouTube made it hard to find out how to pair the devices.  But it is possible in fact to do that.  You can, however, type directly on the Surface to control IE on the Xbox and use Surface as a touch pad to control the browser with multi-touch.  So you should be able to use YouTube outside of the Xbox YouTube application just fine (but I haven't tried yet).

    I'll try to find time this week to give a full report on //build/ (which was awesome), but I'm catching up at work after paternity and the trip to build, and we have a hard deadline to meet, so I'm swamped with work (and my newborn).  Let's just say for now, that I haven't seen Windows devs this excited in a long time ... and I haven't been this excited about development since .NET came out over 10 years ago!

    Buy one.  Buy two.  One for the wife ... she'll want it.

  • User profile image
    Bas

    Probably not an actual leaked ad, but this is still how Surface advertising should be done. Awesome.

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @Richard.Hein: I've currently got the Samsung Series 7 Slate, but I'm really looking hard at the RT. I ended up getting one for my wife, and it's all I can do to pry it away for a few minutes to play with it.

    At first I was set on the Pro, but after a couple of weeks, I'm not so sure that I need or care about x86 and a pen. My Samsung has an active digitizer, but I've been surprised at how quickly I was able to wean myself off of it and just use the onscreen keyboard.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    @Richard.Hein: Was waiting for the Pro, but that Levovo one is properly tempting.

     

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    , kettch wrote

    @Richard.Hein: I've currently got the Samsung Series 7 Slate, but I'm really looking hard at the RT. I ended up getting one for my wife, and it's all I can do to pry it away for a few minutes to play with it.

    At first I was set on the Pro, but after a couple of weeks, I'm not so sure that I need or care about x86 and a pen. My Samsung has an active digitizer, but I've been surprised at how quickly I was able to wean myself off of it and just use the onscreen keyboard.

    I've had the same experience with my wife and the Asus VivoTab RT. I'm not going to be playing any big 3D games on a tablet, and the only other x86 software I really use is Visual Studio. It really surprised me how much I could stay in the Metro world and be fine.

  • User profile image
    wkempf

    @vesuvius: Which Lenovo one? I've sort of been eyeing the Asus Vivo Tab (not the RT). Biggest thing keeping me from pulling the trigger is I want to be able to do development work on the device, and I don't think that would work out so well with the Atom processors.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    @wkempf: Yoga, but spivonious's hesitant comment in another thread about keyboard exposure, when you use the tablet in stand mode, means that you are closer to a tablet with a surface, but closer to an ultrabook, so doing things like development become a possibility.

     

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    @wkempf:The Remote Desktop is surprisingly good, even on a low grade atom processor (or an RT device).  Consider a chunky & cheap desktop machine for development via Remote Desktop - then set up the Win8 slate as your build target and maybe get the best of both worlds.

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @Ian2: It's interesting to me that so many people don't mind doing developement on a small screen. I've never been comfortable with anything less than a full sized machine with three+ monitors, keyboard and mouse.

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    When I didn't have a touch screen, I though the side split thing was pretty useless, but with multitouch, you can have a browser running, dock it, and pinch zoom in and out to read whatever, and copy and paste back and forth ... LOVE IT.

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    @Bas: lol, nice Smiley

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , kettch wrote

    @Richard.Hein: I've currently got the Samsung Series 7 Slate, but I'm really looking hard at the RT. I ended up getting one for my wife, and it's all I can do to pry it away for a few minutes to play with it.

    At first I was set on the Pro, but after a couple of weeks, I'm not so sure that I need or care about x86 and a pen. My Samsung has an active digitizer, but I've been surprised at how quickly I was able to wean myself off of it and just use the onscreen keyboard.

    Yeah, with the newborn, I have had a lot more time with the Surface RT without the keyboard attached than with it, and it's taking some getting used to but I feel like I'm getting skilled at using it one handed and with the baby in my other arm. Wink  The onscreen keyboard modes are great, because you can switch between them depending on what you are typing and how you are holding it ... the Remote Desktop app also has a "touch pointer" mode that you can switch between, so that you can control a mouse cursor with acceleration from just the edge or corner of the surface, and get higher precision for the times you need it.  Then switch back to touch for other things. 

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @Richard.Hein: The only trouble I've had with the snap view is that certain websites don't do well. They end up requiring a lot of zooming and panning to read anything because they don't adjust to the small size. I don't know if it's the site's layout, the browser, or a combination.

    I've had some good success with custom CSS in getting them to fit better into the viewport.

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , vesuvius wrote

    @Richard.Hein: Was waiting for the Pro, but that Levovo one is properly tempting.

     

    Indeed, and also the VAIO Duo 11 Ultrabook looks nice too:  http://store.sony.com/c/VAIO-Duo-11-Ultrabook-Laptops/en/c/S_D_SERIES_PAGE 

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , wkempf wrote

    @vesuvius: Which Lenovo one? I've sort of been eyeing the Asus Vivo Tab (not the RT). Biggest thing keeping me from pulling the trigger is I want to be able to do development work on the device, and I don't think that would work out so well with the Atom processors.

    Yes, it's kind of a pain to see that csc.exe is there, but when you run it, it says it's missing some dlls, such as System.Data.Oracle.dll .... 

    Right now TouchDevelop is the only IDE I know of that runs on the Surface.  It does work in offline mode as well, and generates JavaScript.  It's also fun, but I haven't spent too much time in it yet.  I used the phone version to make a simple app that plays songs rated > 4 when you shake the phone, that's about it, aside from exploring other apps.

    To do real dev, you'll want to RDP or just use a more powerful workstation, until the Pro comes out.  I'll almost 100% sure I'll get a Pro ... we'll see ... and will give the RT to my wife.

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    @kettch:  Agreed, and yes, it's really the site, but over time people will hopefully optimize their sites for that kind of sizing.  However, I find that 90% of the docking I do is to copy some small bit of text from one thing to another, and for that I haven't had a problem. Smiley  Oh, actually no, not 90% ... maybe 50% ... the other 50% is used to control stuff on the Xbox, like IE, with Smartglass or navigating the Xbox.  Absolutely essential for the Xbox now, IMHO. Wink

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , Ian2 wrote

    @wkempf:The Remote Desktop is surprisingly good, even on a low grade atom processor (or an RT device).  Consider a chunky & cheap desktop machine for development via Remote Desktop - then set up the Win8 slate as your build target and maybe get the best of both worlds.

    Yes, it's good and I like the touch pointer mode for precision moments, as mentioned earlier ... I intend on trying out the build target thing as soon as I work out things on the network here at the office ... also I have had a ton of trouble getting Mouse Without Borders to work, but if it DID work, I can control my PC which doesn't have a touch screen, with my Surface as well.  Or I can use my phone and control my PC to get multitouch, as well.

  • User profile image
    wkempf

    @kettch: Not claiming I'll use it for day in day out development. But I want to be able to do some development when I'm on the go, no matter how less than ideal that is. Less than ideal is better than impossible. Smiley

    Remote desktop isn't a solution for several reasons, but the biggest is that you can't plug-in devices for testing when using a remote session.

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