In my work as a consultant and presenter, I travel a lot. My primary machine is an Apple MacBook, and I love it, but I need a backup machine in case the primary one dies. My presentations (and consulting gigs) must go on – but I hate traveling with additional weight. So what’s a guy to do?
For the past few years, my backup machine has been a first-generation Apple iPad. It handles most of the duties beautifully – keeps me busy on planes and trains, has 3G built in so I can connect everywhere, and is a wonderful conference machine. It’s great for keeping up with Twitter, email, and writing blog posts simultaneously at conferences (even if it isn’t a true multitasker).
There’s one place where the iPad falls down: presenting. Apple Keynote borks up my PowerPoint presentation formatting just enough that it annoys me. I put a ton of work into my decks, and I want them to look perfect, but a lot gets lost in translation between PowerPoint on the laptop and Keynote on the iPad.
When Microsoft announced their new Surface RT tablet, I was mesmerized. An iPad clone with Office built in? Sign me up!
I’m willing to make a lot of compromises if PowerPoint works well with a remote clicker, and it sounds like I’m going to have to make a lot alright. Here’s what I’m losing from my first-generation iPad:
No 3G connectivity – at conferences, I’m going to be relying on the conference WiFi (BWAHAHAHA) and pairing the Surface RT with my iPhone. Goodbye, battery life.
No iOS apps – I’ve got a handful of apps I’m addicted to. I use TripIt to manage my travel and 1Password to sync all my passwords everywhere. I rely on RememberTheMilk.com for task management, and I love having the same to-do list synced over my laptop, iPad, iPhone, and the web. I can live without these apps on the Surface RT because I’ll have my iPhone with me, so I’m comfortable with this compromise.
No iTunes/iCloud syncing – iTunes sucks. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. But when you’ve got all Apple devices, it sucks a little less because when you buy an app or music or movie or book or anything else in the Apple ecosystem, it appears on all of your devices. Presto – the music is on my iPhone, the movie is on my Apple TV, and the book is on my iPad. Not so with the Surface RT, but again, this is a compromise I’m willing to make because of my goals for the Surface.
Licensing will theoretically cost more – Mary Jo Foley points out that if you use the Surface RT for work, you have to be covered by Office 365 or one of the new Office 2013 desktop licenses. There’s no Office 2013 for Mac announced yet, so I’m going to be using the software illegally. Arrr, matey.
Stability – This is the one that scares me the most. Microsoft is shipping a tablet to me next week, and most tech journalists still haven’t put their hands on a working production model. I’m fully expecting a crashtastic, buggy mess that will be a big step backward from the stability of iOS. I just closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and clicked Buy in the blind hope that Microsoft will get it right within a few software updates. (64GB with both keyboards just out of curiosity.)
I can’t imagine a lot of consumers making the same number of compromises I’m making to get a Surface RT. I can kinda-sorta imagine hard-core IT types getting a Surface Pro with its full-blown version of Windows, but I’m really not convinced Microsoft can deliver a good experience there. After all, they’re holding the Surface Pro delivery until next year, which makes me think it’s less baked than the RT version. Not a good omen.
Even with my concerns, I’m really excited about the arrival of my Surface RT. Because, hey, it’s a gadget – and who doesn’t like gadgets?