When Apple released the iPad in 2010, they were ridiculed. No one expected there to be any need for a giant iPhone without any calling ability. Since then, the tablet market has exploded. Every major tech manufacturer from ASUS to Dell are manufacturing tablets modeled after the iPad.
Rewind 5-10 years and you will see a market of mobile computing that is emerging called ‘netbooks’. Designed to be low profile, lightweight laptops for highly mobile individuals (not unlike tablets). These devices were, and to some extent, still are, extremely low power, tiny form-form factor computers. The netbook market struggled for traction 5 years ago, and it continues to struggle today.
Tablets overtook the netbook world due to their attractive, simple design, touch screen interface and portability.
If you ask anyone in the mobile tech industry what their thoughts on tablets are, they will likely give you one of two responses; enthusiastically negative or enthusiastically positive. There is a pretty big gap between these two camps. Some see tablets as simple, powerful computers that fulfill their (minimal) computing needs. Others see them as redundant, larger versions of their phones that lack the functionality of a full computer.
As an owner of an Apple iPad and a previous owner of a Google Nexus 7 I find myself in the latter camp. I use my iPad for less and less every day. It simply doesn’t have the customizability or functionality of a computer; nor does it have the convenience of a phone. It sits awkwardly between the two, unsure of what its role should be.
That said, I don’t think this is a problem with tablets as a class; I think that this entire problem revolves around our mentality that a tablet should have a mobile OS, like iOS. In keeping with the Apple ‘ecosystem’, one cannot install OSX apps on an iPad. You can’t save documents to your desktop, there are no folders. You are locked into this ethereal state of app-jumping.
If only there was a middle ground. Something that took the small form factor, touch screen and low profile of a tablet, but the power and functionality of a mobile computer.
Enter the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and 3.
The Surface is incredible. It is a lightweight, touchscreen device in the shape of a tablet but it packs the hardware of a midrange desktop computer AND has a fully featured Windows 8.1 (soon to be Windows 10) installation on it.
Not only do you have a full Windows OS loaded where you can install any Windows program, you get to use Windows 8.1 as it was meant to be used—with your hands. If that wasn’t enough for you, it also comes with a USB port, a MicroSD expansion port and a connector to hook up a very well designed and fully qualified keyboard.
I firmly believe that the Surface is the future of mobile computing. Computing power is going to always be increasing, we have to match that power with user ability. That cannot be achieved through a mobile OS. A simplified OS has its place in small devices like phones or media players. But a mobile computing device like a tablet, deserves a qualified OS like Windows 8.1(10).
We at netEffx will be acquiring a Surface Pro 3 to conduct more extensive trials in the coming week. Stay tuned for more information on them and other new Microsoft Tech!