Itching for a Surface

Discussion in 'Alternatives to Mac Hardware' started by SmackBookPro, May 9, 2019.

  1. SmackBookPro macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2018
    My current setup is a Mac mini with a desktop to plug it into at home and work with Apple Care, an iPad Air 2019 with Apple Pencil (and Logitech Slim Folio Keyboard incoming) as well as a 128GB iPhone XR. All bought within the past 5 months.

    I got this setup as I was fed up taking my MBP to the Apple Store and going without it for a week, for a £2,000+ premium. As much as I loved it. But also hunching over a laptop at work and not being able to use it in bed with the gf very easily or in public when travelling or walking put me off the form factor.

    The iPad is the star of the show, and embracing the iPad only life as much as possible out of work is nice, with Canva doing wonders at work, Affinity, PDF Expert etc and great performance on that game Fortnite for casual use (Mac mini can't run it well). It can absolutely do everything, but this morning on PDF Expert, having to rework a PDF which used Helvetica which for some reason was coming up as dots on colleagues Windows PCs being changed back to Arial font, I was hunching over more-so than on my laptop and took 30 mins to do what would have been a lasso-select-all job and change of font on a PC/Mac. Made me think... did I make the wrong decision?

    The tablet form factor outside of work, for leisure, entertainment, studying is far superior in my opinion to the laptop. And now I've got the two 24" displays, keyboard and mouse at home and work.

    The Surface Pro 6 is giving me an itch. Windows Central's videos keep coming up on my YouTube feed telling me of the constant, monthly if not more, releases from Microsoft and there's so much going on. So many little features, it's like 25% of the WWDC excitement on a regular basis of new things being delivered to the OS. I still use it at work helping others and it's still a PITA, but I'm not a typical user. I'm an Apple enthusiast, read computer enthusiast. And shouldn't really need to take cover in the simple iOS world the way I have, which was by choice, but with the PDF fiasco this morning, I'm not so sure it's worth it.

    My big issue is the iPhone. I can't use it (don't want to use it) outside of Apple's integration with the Mac, I mean, that's the whole appeal and tie in for me with Apple. Seamlessness. I happened to notice Windows getting very seamless with Android (somewhat so with Apple, but that utility on Windows is no fun at all). I'd sell all of my devices to go all in if I made the switch because any time I tried in the past iOS was constantly reminding me I was outside the ecosystem. Only thing is.. when WWDC rolls around I might be regretful of leaving it.. hmm

    I found software for everything on Windows except for how I'm using Keynote beyond it's purpose for creating little animation loop videos for Facebook with its transitions. I think that's literally the only thing I can't do on Windows.

    I'd go for some kind of Android phone, most likely by Sony as I just have a real admiration for their stuff but for a long time no need to buy any of it. Really wish they still made Vaio, with weird and wonderful devices - not like the comeback independent Vaio. Can anybody recommend me one here?

    I would also move from iCloud to OneDrive, Outlook and OneNote etc. Even my email to Outlook by setting up a forward.

    I'm going to lose a good slice of money on all these devices, I'm in the UK so USD values aren't as useful to me. My iPad has an engraving on the back with my name on it too, would this really put someone off? I mean, it's still like new and recent.

    Has anybody else got anything to say here? Should I go for it, in your opinions?
  2. fivetoedsloth macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2018
    You have a nice setup. As a Surface 2017 i7 owner, I can vouch for the fact that it can do all the things you need, but in your case, another expensive device may be overkill. Since your iPad is so capable and portable, and since you already have a nice Mac desktop setup, how about adding a cheap Surface Go to your mix? It would allow you to do those little tasks like the PDF edit you described. It is tiny and portable and cheap. Not fast, but way faster than your iPad for certain types of tasks that require a full OS.

    Then, you could have the best of all worlds: Mac desktop, tablet, and an affordable full Windows machine for times when the iPad can’t handle some task.

    Other option, if you want greater performance: look at a lower spec i5 Surface Pro 2017, which will give you much more performance in not a significantly larger form factor.

    In my case, I decided to move to Windows because it integrates better with my office needs. I am glad I opted for the top spec i7 16gb model of the Surface Pro, but after I bought all the accoutrements to make it great (alcantara keyboard, mouse, dial, pen, dock) it was nearly $3k. It has replaced my 2013 retina MBP 13” (still runs fine), but this was definitely not a small investment. I do miss things about OSX, but in the work I do now, Windows just causes less friction.
  3. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    I use Windows as a desktop/laptop OS (multiple desktops at work, Surface Book 2 as a laptop for home, work & travel) and iOS as a mobile operating system (iPhone, 11" iPad Pro).

    As long as you select the proper apps, they integrate quite nicely. For example, I use OneNote for most of my note taking. Syncs perfectly between my iPhone, iPad and Windows devices. Microsoft's To Do app also syncs perfectly between iOS and Windows. I use Dropbox for cloud storage, which integrates into Microsoft Office for both Windows and iOS. Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts work on both, of course. 1Password for password management works on both platforms...

    There are a few benefits to using Android + Windows, since Windows now has the My Phone app integration for text messages, notifications, etc., but the iPad and iPhone work so nicely together. Besides, I love my Apple Watch too much, which is another strong reason to stick with iOS for mobile.

    And the iPad just does 'tablet stuff' so much better than the Surface can. Windows just isn't there yet. Even the onscreen keyboard for Windows is just terrible.

    For me at least, the age of the single do-all device just isn't quite here yet.
  4. c0ppo macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2013
    Well, I would say that it's not even on 5% on what it's supposed to be.
    Take SB2 for example. Almost perfect device. But in tablet mode it's worse then Samsung Galaxy S2.

    Touch is laggy and jerky, animations are far from fluid. Only thing what I liked about SB2 is pen support for notes. In tablet mode that device is far from completed product. But then again, I'm the kind of guy who sees no point in tablets anyway :)
  5. SmackBookPro thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2018
    No matter what you say, or how much I disagree / agree, I will never criticise someone with that display pic... UP THE IRONS!

    Now.. where was I?!
  6. fivetoedsloth macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2018
    The Surface is a very good device, although nothing beats an iPad for a straight up tablet. When I use the Surface in tablet mode, it is so I can use it with the pen to do specific things like Photoshop and Clip Studio, or with the pen to use OneNote or Microsoft Whiteboard, or to watch videos (excellent because of the kickstand). And there are some touch friendly apps like Leonardo (drawing app) which is a real pleasure in tablet mode. The Surface excels at those uses, but it is not an Instant-on fluid tablet experience like the iPad. And some apps like Affinity Designer have great touch implementation on the iPad, but mediocre touch implementation on the Surface for some reason.

    I think the Surface is the best all in one for me right now. The lesser tablet experience is is the compromise I accept for the ability to use a fast full OS as an occasional OK tablet.

    I am not a gamer, but I have recently downloaded a couple of games from Steam on my Surface (Eastshade and Painscreek Killings) which have been a joy to play on the Surface. Makes it run a bit hot, but how amazing that it can even do this. This Surface is a very capable machine and I really can’t fault it.

    Still, in the OP’s case, I would stick with the hardware I have and just add a lower end Go or Surface (or any other full ultraportable) for doing tasks only a full OS can handle while away from the office.
  7. Queen6, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019

    Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    I have a Acer Switch 5 with 7th Gen i3 CPU and it's fluid, I also owned a 1st Gen Surface Book and it was no issue. Not defending by an means more curiosity why higher spec hardware doesn't perform as expected. At the end of the day it may all just be down to the maturity of the drivers, or overly aggressive power management given the SB not a stellar performer in tablet mode on battery. I'm using the Switch 5 now and it's fine on MS stock performance settings for the GUI, admittedly it's extremely difficult to compare W10 systems as the software installed can vary so very much.

    I have use for the tablet format and have been through multiple iterations of Android & IOS, all discarded in time. In the end W10 works best for my needs. The mobile operating systems are far too limiting, dumbed down if you will. I don't game on the tablet format, so don't care about that, media consumption is fine and I have no issue with the basic office productivity tasks. For me and my on the go usage need the Switch 5 was a "steal" at just $650 (with Keyboard & Pen) Fast becoming one of my favourite computers as it delivers way beyond expectation.

    Nor a huge fan of MS, although credit where credit is due; don't use MS Office or OneDrive, always look to point to point encryption with private keys.

  8. sracer macrumors G3


    Apr 9, 2010

    IMO, yes, you made the wrong decision (for whatever my opinion is worth). It CANNOT absolutely do everything as you have found out.

    Part of the issue is this very common idea that one device needs to do everything. People twist themselves into pretzels to accomplish things on device "A" that would've been a breeze on device "B". I've been guilty of that myself... for years, I've pushed and stretched the limits of the iPad platform in an attempt to get my workflows to jive with the limitations and capabilities of iOS. I'm an advocate of "Think Different" and have extensive experience of examining my workflows, determining WHAT I need to get done, and adjust HOW it is done based on the platform being used.

    Although it is common for tasks to be accomplished by taking a different path on a different device, one must examine the totality of their workflows and see if overall the experience is more enjoyable, more productive, and more efficient on the new device or, the old methods were better, or a mix of old and new.

    I've spent a significant amount of time with Surface devices over the years and have concluded that the Surface tablets are fine as ultrabook replacements but are pretty mediocre as a tablet (in the iPad vein of tablets). They run desktop operating systems with all of the issues that go along with them.

    I strongly recommend AGAINST selling all of your devices to go all in to make a switch.

    I think that what you currently have is very decent and with a little ingenuity could work for you.

    As you've discovered, the iPad is great for casual mobile things but can fall short when doing the heavy lifting that requires a desktop OS.

    What I've done is to install Jump Desktop on my iMac in my home office and set it up to allow incoming requests 24/7. I installed the Jump Desktop client on my 2018 9.7 iPad and bought a Citrix X1 mouse to use with it. (I also have a few BT keyboards to use with the iPad).

    When I'm doing things that can easily be done with the iPad, I use the iPad... but when I'm out and about and need to do desktop-y things, I use my iPad and remotely connect to my iMac. Using the X1 mouse and BT keyboard on the iPad is like working locally on a Macbook. By transferring files via cloud storage, I can start my workflow locally on the iPad but when I run into limitations, I'll continue the work on my iMac remotely via my iPad.
  9. Queen6, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019

    Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    Buy what works for you and ignore the rest. I don't advise anything specific, I do advise having an open mind and seeking what works best for the individual, not following the crowd, as others would want you to seek..

  10. derekamoss macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Have you looked at Microsoft Sway? it's a free program to compliment powerpoint. I am not to familiar with it but I thing it does what you want. Breaking from full Windows Eco system was the best decision i have made in a long time and don't regret it at all.
  11. SDColorado Contributor


    Nov 6, 2011
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    Sway varies from Powerpoint in that its main use is for conveying presentations onscreen, rather than to an audience. It is well suited to newsletters, tutorials, interactive reports, etc.

  12. derekamoss macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Ah I just remembered that it was more about videos than a PowerPoint slide. Don't use either to much. I'm a Word nerd lol.
  13. kazmac macrumors 604


    Mar 24, 2010
    On the silver scream
    So true.

    I learned this the hard way over the holidays.

    I love the Surface machines I tried despite tripping over Windows hard and not being able to use trackpads*. I think the suggestion of a Surface Go is a good idea for the OP.

    I may still get a laptop IF I can use it without the trackpad. Anyway...
  14. Mike Boreham macrumors 68000

    Aug 10, 2006
    I have what you suggest...iMac, 12.9 iPad gen 3 with ASK, Surface GO 128/8.

    Works well for me.

    I can use the iPad as a second monitor for the Surface GO:

    Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 09.47.29.png
  15. fivetoedsloth macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2018
    Nice setup. Are you using Duet Display for that? I have pressed my aging iPad Air 2 into service as a second small portable monitor for my Surface Pro. Wish I had a bigger iPad Pro for this use, but still, it works well.
  16. Valdna macrumors newbie


    Jul 26, 2017
    If you are considering SP6 then also take a look at the Surface Pro 2017 i7 model.
    It is only a dual core, but it does have a little better graphics performance.

    Other than that SP lineup rocks! :)

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15 May 9, 2019