For Windows Phone, By Surface Pro

Surface Pro and Windows Phone

I was just reading through my usual news feeds, one of them being Windows Phone Central when I came across a cool post from Microsoft, “Geek out with Surface and win!“. So I started thinking about what I could do. I am one of the very few people in South Africa that has a Surface. The shipping is what kills, but I had to get one. I am also a developer, so it seemed natural to get a tablet that ran Visual Studio. Only the tablets running Windows 8 Pro was of any real value, so after a bit of thought, I got myself a Surface Pro – and have been loving it ever since.

Just to show how great this tablet really is, I can say that I gave my PC away and never once regretted that decision. I have developed an app for Windows Phone 8 exclusively on the Surface. It is available on the Store: GoMetro | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store. I am proud of this app as it is my first for Windows Phone as well as it being developed on my favourite device – my Surface.

Some time ago, before I started the app, I wrote a post on what I was going to do: “GoMetro for Windows Phone 8

I love my phone and my tablet, and I develop apps for both. I am working on several projects ranging from websites, Windows Phone and desktop. C# is my main language, but I do do extensive JavaScript and CSS development for those wbsites.

As you can see, my Shift and Ctrl keys are a bit worn from my continuous use! I won’t recommend the touch cover for extensive use, certainly not for development, but it can be done – you just hve to get used to typing.

Overall the tablet is very good, it can play the average game as well without a real problem. Excellent for surfing the web and social networking, emails and other light use. I read my digital comics on this device and they are clear, crisp and vivid.

On more serious tasks, it is also oustanding, development is slightly harder due to the small screen, but I developed an app without any external monitors so it can be done. I have done some photo editing and 2D drawings without any problems. I run a virtual machine using Hyper-V for one of my projects, and have not noticed a real problem.

The OS is snappy an the apps that I use are very good: Mail, People, Facebook, Internet Explorer, Skype, Nokia Music, Adera (game), Fresh Paint and Autodesk Sketchbook. There have been some tremendous improvements since Windows 8.1.

The USB port in the charger is used to charge my phone and the stylus is used for my assignments and note taking in both OneNote and Word. I have done some nice drawings and the stylus is pretty accurate. The USB port is used mainly to connect my external HDD, but is used for other things, even for emergency charging of my phone when I don’t have my charger around.

The sound quality is good, sometimes a bit soft, but that doesn’t really affect me as I use it mostly after hours and late into the night. Movies are awesome, colours are good and there is no lag in the images that I can see.

I find the battery life is fairly substantial, setting my brightness to about 75% usually extends it for several hours – I have never actually measured, but it is more than 5 hours. Often, in my bed at night I can read my comics, setting the brightness right dow and it’ll last for hours even from below 50%.

One more thing, SkyDrive. This is integrated into the OS, but that is just cool. The most totally awesome feature is the photo file management: I have got over 8GB on SkyDrive, but it only takes up 170MB on disk. This is the greatest and coolest of all those cloud guys. Especially as the tablet has limited storage of 128GB. I have just clocked at 50% on my HDD, so the space is not being swamped, even with Office, Visual Studio and its SDKs. Although, I do have an external drive for my music, movies and other large games such as Battlefield.

I look forward to trying and maybe buying the Surface Pro 2…

My Microsoft Surface Pro

Earlier this week my new Surface arrived! It is very, very cool and I haven’t stopped using it since it arrived.

Being the Pro one, I installed Visual Studio 2012 already :). At work I did use it a bit, but I have not done any dev yet as I don’t have bluetooth keyboard yet.

The shipping costs where quite high due to me having to import it. I used Amazon, but had to use a Third Party vendor, WorldWide Distributors, as Amazon does not stock the tablet. (the total costs worked out to 2/3 tablet and 1/3 shipping and admin fees) I really feel that the cost was worth it. I can use it as my “normal” desktop as will as a tablet. I an not really a gamer, so the lack of a dedicated graphics card does not really affect me. I also think that the USB port on the side was a good move by Microsoft as I can now plug in my flash drive and/or external hard drive.

I am currently looking into a portable hard drive and a cable for my monitor (as the device has a mini DisplayPort and I have an old DVI monitor). I will probably buy a cheap bluetooth keyboard and mouse until I get one of the Touch/Type Covers (I am actually writing this with that pen).

I have an album on Facebook with some photos of my surface. Yay!

Well anyway, this is just an update, I still want to do some more blogging this months.