In addition to being a student, I also work for the Computer Services Department at The Master's College as a Special Projects Coordinator For the past several weeks, I have had the amazing opportunity to test and use a few different types of tablets through my work.  I have been primarily using the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 (blog post on this coming soon) , but for the last week, I have been able to use the Microsoft Surface Pro while a coworker was away.   I love the concept of using a tablet in college and in the last 4-5 weeks that I have been using tablets, it has revolutionized the way I have used my computer to take notes for classes or meetings, study, or research information.  I will be blogging about how I have used the tablets in my classes in future posts.  I thought I would share a few of my initial thoughts and impressions as both an employee and a college student on the Microsoft Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro:

Microsoft Surface ProThe Surface Pro is the perfect size to fit in a backpack, purse, or just grab and go.  It is somewhat heavy, but what the device loses in desired weight it makes up in power.  Having both a tablet for drawing and media consumption, and a full laptop is fantastic.  As a student, is helpful to be able to have my textbooks, computer, and notes on the tablet so that I have fewer things to carry/manage.

I appreciate the Surface's robust design.  While it is heavy, the firm casing protects the screen and electronics enough that I don't have to buy an Surface Pro Kickstandextra case to protect it - which saves weight and room in my backpack.  I love the built-in stand which is a part of my casing, and the only change I would like to see in this is the ability to adjust the angle of the stand for various purposes.

The wireless antenna is actually pretty impressive on this device.  While other wifi devices have struggled from room to room, I found that I can go anywhere in my house and backyard (over 70 feet) and still have a great connection.  While this may seem like a small feature, it's huge for a college student who needs to be as mobile as possible.

Battery power is critical for a student, and I was able to get about 8 hours of battery life out of the Surface - more than enough to get me through a day of classes.  Even when I turned the screen brightness all the way up and played movies I was able to get several hours of use out of the battery.

The camera is decent, but could definitely be improved.  I found that the pictures appeared slightly fuzzy no matter what setting I used.

I was able to install and use Finale, the primary music engraving software we use at the college, on the tablet. (Note: I did not test Finale with Garritan sounds)  Although it was somewhat awkward to use with a small screen, the software ran perfectly.  This is a huge plus for me as a music student, as I can now not only record, but also write down and edit various music ideas and assignments that I have.  Again, I found that with the tablet I am having to carry fewer tools with me and am becoming more mobile.

The Surface Type Cover:

Surface Pro KeyboardThis is one addition which I believe makes the surface twice as useful; if you are investing in a Surface, it is worth the extra $130 to maximize your productivity..  It magnetically attaches to the tablet, which makes it easy to attach and ensures that it won't get accidentally disconnected.  There is no bluetooth connection to set up, no battery to turn on, just connect it and it is instantly ready to go.  The design of this keyboard allows it to be flipped over to be used as a protective cover for the screen, which makes the Surface even more portable, as it doesn't require a bulky case for transportation.  I also love how the cover can be flipped behind the screen so you don't have to disconnect it when you are in "touch only" mode, yet it won't accidentally type when in this position

The Stylus:

Surface Pro StylusI actually think this is a pretty poor design.  I have very small hands and the pen is a bit too big and bulky to be completely comfortable. The location of the button and the clip made it sometimes awkward to find the right position to hold the stylus. The biggest problem I had with the stylus, however, was the way it attaches to the Surface itself.  The pen connects magnetically to the side of the Surface, but can easily be knocked off if hit at just the right angle.  I constantly found myself knocking it off and finally stopped using the pen entirely as I was afraid of losing it and did not want to pay $30 for a replacement.  In addition, the stylus attaches to the same place the power cable attaches, which means that you cannot have both plugged in the same time - making it easier to lose the pen.


Microsoft Surface ProIn my one week of borrowing the Microsoft Surface Pro I have fallen in love with this device.  While there is room for improvement, Microsoft has definitely covered the bases and has provided a quality device that has revolutionized my school and work.  I am twice as productive because I am able to look up information in meetings and take notes without being a distraction.  Because it's so portable, I can take my work anywhere and a number of the basic tools I need are combined into one device.  It's going to be difficult to give the Surface up.

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