Surface Pro 3 for Developers–Sightings in the Wild

When I’m out and about and I fire up my Surface Pro 3, I look around for other Surface devices. I guess I’m looking for kindred spirits.

I was at a Developers’ event on the weekend. As usual I glanced around and there were about thirty portable computers of various kinds from mega-gaming machines to tiny tablets.  Seven of them were Surface Pro units (mostly Surface Pro 3). Except for the Microsoft Store,  that’s the most Surface  devices I’ve ever seen in one place.

That was fun and edifying. We compared notes. Several of us have the docking station. Most of us use the Surface Pro 3 as our main computing device replacing some combination of desktop and a portable device. All of us were happy with the decision to get one.

Don’t underestimate the value of small and light. This was a four hour event in a tiny demonstration room. There were power outlets on only one side of the room. That side of the room was crowded and populated by the mega-laptop people. The Surface guys were on other side of the room with more elbow room and without the tangle of wires that goes with being tethered to power.

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Thanks to Mark Schramm for organizing the event.

Speaking of shedding wires three of the four presenters used Surface Pro devices  and at least one of them used the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter.

On another note here are some more things to explore

OneNote: A Few Thank You Notes

I’ve been using OneNote since it came out in 2003. It was one of the first applications that treated ink as a first consideration in design. It was unconstrained by the traditional concepts of horizontal lines and vertical borders. It could search your ink; Ink that you created using a pen and active digitizer. It was one of the best applications for what we used to call Tablet PCs.

OneNote was clearly different in terms of workflow. You didn’t have to save your work and you didn’t have to consciously synchronize  your notes across multiple devices.  It was a great tool for doing research. Copying anything from the web automatically created a link back to the source.  You could record audio and if you wrote notes during the recording, your notes were linked to point at in the recording when you took them.  Later, you could tap start the audio playback at the precise point in time when made the note.

I shared notebooks across all my devices it was easy to have access to my information everywhere, even on my phone.

Don’t get the wrong impression as I write in the past tense. OneNote is still around, still does all those things, and it’s better than ever, especially on Surface 3 and Surface Pro devices.  Surface 3 and all Surface Pro devices support ink. 

For me, there’s nothing more efficient than a pen for marking up a document as you edit it. If you’ve used Microsoft Word with track-changes and comments, you know that you can get distracted by the technology and the work-flow.  Do it with ink and it’s simple, direct, and the technology is transparent.

I still keep all the pen and paper type notes in OneNote. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I still have  old Tablet PCs scattered around my workspaces so that I can jot things down and have those notes everywhere including my phone.  I’m still amazed at how well OneNote can find a word or a phrase that I wrote in ink months or even years ago.

It turns out that OneNote is absolutely brilliant as a tool for collaborative writing. If you share your notebooks with others, then OneNote keeps track of each author’s changes, and everyone is always looking at the same version.

Yes, it’s a digital and somewhat binary world, but there are still plenty of times that the analog approach – writing in ink is just better.

If you have wanted an easy way to store lyrics and add guitar chords, it is just plain annoying to get things lined up with ordinary text based tools. It’s easy to do it with OneNote, and you can even draw chord diagrams if you need them.   Of course you can buy apps for this but it’s so much easier with the pen, especially if things are in the early stages of creation.

I think that’s why I really like OneNote. It allows me to capture thoughts and ideas relatively unfettered by constraints of planning, typing, and saving and syncing and notifying others of changes. It’s great at the early stages of things when there’s no time to be perfect, and no need for the distraction of trying to be. And yet as chaotic as that sounds it is brilliant at finding things, no matter how you created them.

If you don’t know OneNote, then check it out. If you haven’t looked at it lately, it’s worth a second look.

It’s not just for Windows anymore, and it’s free.

And here are some more things to explore

Surface Pro 3: External Disc Performance

Pete Vickers at GUi Innovations has written up a great report about Surface Pro 3 and external disc performance using the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station.

Read the article to see what he found.

External Disc Performance on the Surface Pro 3

Here are some more interesting things to explore.

Ultimate Student Guide To Using Microsoft Surface 3

Great video from Sean Ong. Although this is oriented for students, there are some great hints about being productive with your Surface device.

Ultimate Student Guide To Using Microsoft Surface 3

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And after you have watched the video here are some more interesting things to explore.

Surface Pro 3: Pen Can Be Paired With Other Devices

You can pair your Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 pen to other devices.

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This is more interesting than compellingly useful, but here’s what I found.

I picked up  an HP Stream 7 at the Microsoft Store last week.

I was trying to capture a screen shot with the thumb keyboard but trying to do that with the Windows-Volume_Down combination wouldn’t work because pressing the Windows button dismisses the keyboard. Then remembered that a double-click on the Surface Pen button opens OneNote Screen Clipping Tool.

I paired my Surface Pen via Bluetooth to the Stream-7. I was actually surprised that it worked. And after that I could click once to wake it up from sleep into OneNote, and double-click to open the OneNote Screen Clipping Tool  just like you can on the Surface Pro 3.

The Surface Pro 3 Pen doesn’t do anything else with the Stream-7, so I wouldn’t dedicate a Pen to it. But it was interesting to explore.

While I was digging around I found a few new tricks about OneNote. For example, once you register you can send an email to me@onenote.com and it will deliver that email directly to your notebook.

Read more about that trick and more at http://www.onenote.com/

Check out these great opportunities.

Surface Pro 3: Wireless Display Adapter/Miracast

If you are having trouble connecting your Surface Pro 3 to the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter AND you have antivirus/firewall software running, try temporarily disabling the firewall. If that allows you to connect, then turn on the firewall again and set a rule/exception to your firewall settings.

Allow:
C:\Windows\System32\WUDFHost.exe
Allow In/Out connections for TCP and UDP, Ports: All.

Here’s how it looks in ESET Endpoint Security

SETUP > Advanced Setup

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Personal Firewall > Rules

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Add

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General   Miracast   Direction:Both, Action:Allow, Protocol: TCP & UDP

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Local

C:\Windows\System32\WUDFHost.exe

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And that should allow you to connect to your Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter through your firewall.

See also:

Check out these great opportunities.

Surface Tips: Thumb Keyboard and more

I had forgotten about the Thumb Keyboard because I have a Windows Phone and use the Word Flow keyboard.

Word Flow with shape writing in action GIF

As I result I don’t have much experience typing with my thumbs.  I really hope that this feature finds its way into a future release of Windows.

Back to the present:  I recently got an HP Stream 7 and it’s a perfect size to use the thumb keyboard.

Unfortunately I can use the Windows-Volume-Down* trick to take a screenshot of the onscreen keyboard or I could show you how well that onscreen thumb keyboard looks on a 7 inch screen.

See more forgotten Surface Tricks in the Surface Blog

* Press and hold the Windows button, and press down on the lower volume button on the side of your Surface. Your screen will dim a little for a moment when you do this. Your screenshots will be saved their own separate folder inside your Pictures folder.

Surface Pro 3: Great Service at the Microsoft Store

I dropped by the Microsoft Store to invest some time getting to know the Surface 3. Almost as an afterthought on the way in I decided to make an appointment to see a technical specialist while I was in there. The main problem was that the keyboard was unresponsive when waking from sleep. The keys would light up but the key presses did not register on the Surface Pro 3.

The workaround was to remove and replace the keyboard after resuming from sleep.  This was mildly annoying and downright embarrassing when I had to do this in front of other people. I had read through the forums and done hard shutdowns (two button shutdowns), but to no avail.

Another issue that had been nagging at me was that the fan seemed to be on more and more of the time.  It was on almost constantly lately when in the docking station regardless of what I was doing. 

As you would expect, a machine that was running hot with the fan on most of the time was going to run slowly and it was tough on battery life.  I was lucky to get more than an hour for the last week or so.  Sometimes it would not charge when I was using it. I had to charge it while it was asleep.  It was coming out of its carrying bag warm most of the time. It was hard to tell if this was because it went into the bag hot, or if it had woken up from sleep in transit. I had gotten into the habit of putting it into hibernate mode instead of sleep.

This was  death by a thousand cuts. I’ve been up against deadlines lately and as long as it was running I just pushed on.

I had a little time in a cafe before the store opened and I made a list. And once I had it down in writing it was clear that the minor annoyances had added up and it was time to deal with them.

I had provided my litany of grief to the person who booked the appointment with the technician. By the time the appointment rolled around, the technician  had read the list and was ready for me.

I”m probably not a typical user. I have four user accounts, and I switch between them frequently. By mid-day I usually have eight or nine applications open, four browsers going,  and dozens of windows on the go. The technician took the time to go through all the user accounts looking for problems like viruses and known rogue programs.  It took a couple of hours of investigation and discussion but he made the decision to exchange the unit. 

While he was doing all the paperwork  for the new one, I bought a 128 gig Micro SD card and backed up the data that was not on OneDrive.  That took a couple of hours so I let the new unit sync up with my Microsoft account and OneDrive and reinstalled my Windows Store Applications. While that was happening I bought the Wireless Display Adapter, and on an impulse I picked up an HP Stream 7.  More on that later.

It was a long day at the Microsoft Store. I was camped out at their service desk for hours and treated attentively, and respectfully throughout. It could have been an ordeal, but everyone was pleasant  and helpful. During the times that didn’t require my attention I got updates on the latest Xbox One and I spent some quality time with the Surface 3 and its new accessories. I spoke with another technician who gave me some excellent advice that I have since applied and my network is working much better.

My new Surface Pro 3 is doing fine. I had to reinstall all my legacy applications, user accounts and preferences and I’m still migrating data. I’m happy to report that the unit is only slightly warm, and I haven’t heard the fan once.

When you live with technology you know that things fail. What matters is what people do when that happens. The people at the Microsoft store stepped up and did a great job.

Surface 3: Hands On

I finally got my hands on a Surface 3. Here it is (red keyboard) beside my Surface Pro 3 (black keyboard) at the Microsoft Store.

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Keyboard and Typing Experience

You’ll notice that the actual keys on the keyboard appear to be the same size.  The difference in width is in the border on the sides of the keys. That border is much slimmer on the Surface 3 keyboard. The Trackpad is about the same width, but not as tall.  They trimmed some of the border between the top row of keys and the screen. Overall the typing experience seemed comparable to what you get with the Surface Pro 3 keyboard, and I like that.

Screen

As you can see the Surface 3 screen is nice and bright. I set both machines to Show more tiles on the Start screen.  On the Surface 3 you get five rows of medium sized tiles. On the Surface Pro 3 you get six. At a glance the tiles look to be about the same size so if you can read the tiles on the Surface Pro 3, you’ll be fine with the Surface 3.  I looked at several of the applications that I use daily and found that the Surface 3 is just as easy to read and work with as the Surface Pro 3. There’s just less to see on the screen, about 11% less.  If you are routinely working at the edges of the screen of a Surface Pro 3 you might miss that extra content.  But otherwise, you probably won’t.

If you are used to working at a 16:9 aspect ratio [1920 x 1080], the switch to the 3:2 aspect ratio [1920 x 1280] on the Surface 3 will give you 200 pixels  more vertical space in which to work. This is a really noticeable difference and it’s a nice change.

Kick Stand

The three position kickstand gives you three very usable viewing angles. I would have preferred that the lowest of these was a little lower, but that’s because I do a lot of work with the Pen on my Surface Pro 3.  Still I could see using all three positions and getting lots of productive work done.  The lowest setting would be great at a conference where you don’t want your device to be upright like a barrier between you and the other people at the table.

Weight

The Surface 3 is just 1.37 pounds (622 grams).  My most demanding application for it will be standing and walking and talking with it. I’ll be using the pen and not the keyboard. I do that now with my Surface Pro 3 and it’s great but from what I could tell, I’m going to really enjoy the Surface 3. It is 6.25 ounces (176 grams) lighter than the Surface Pro 3. That’s a noticeable difference, and I was glad to shed the weight.

Pen Experience

The Surface Team did a great job of carrying the Pen experience from the Surface Pro 3 to the Surface 3.  I use OneNote a lot for cursive notes and this wall worked fine.  There wasn’t time to test this with drawing applications though, but from what I saw, the experience should be similar.

Performance

I wasn’t expecting great performance with the Quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the Surface 3 demo units with the modest 2 gigabytes of RAM were snappy and responsive. I tried watching some video over the net at full screen. This was really good, and I didn’t notice any lag or hesitation for any of the kinds of things I would do for casual or business use. I didn’t try any video editing or heavy duty graphics, but that’s not what this machine is designed to do.

Wireless Display Adapter

This is almost an after-thought for me, but I noticed and played with the Surface 3 connected to a gigantic monitor using the Microsoft Digital Display.  This was a snap to connect and worked very well. I’ll be writing more about that in a few days.

Check out these great opportunities.

Surface Pro 3: Show Hibernate in the Power Options Menu

In my last post I noted that Mouse Without Borders was able to wake up my Surface Pro 3 from Sleep mode. That makes perfect sense if the system is in front of me and I want to wake it up with the mouse. It doesn’t make sense if the system is in a bag, out of sight and out of mind.

I’ve added Hibernate to the Power Options Menu and putting the system into Hibernate mode this seems to have eliminated the problem. I just need to consciously choose to put the system into Hibernate mode instead of just flipping the keyboard closed. That’s a small price to pay for this little bit of added comfort.

Here’s how.

On the Start menu choose Run

In the Run dialog type: gpedit.msc

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Click OK

In the Group Policy Editor navigate to:

Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer > Show hibernate in the power options menu.

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Click and then set the option to Enabled.

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That’s it. OK your way out. 

Next time you want to Hibernate tap Start > Shutdown and choose Hibernate.

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What about InstantGo?

Yes, when I turn on Hiberate I lose the instant resume from standby, and the background updates for email or connectivity by Skype.  I have my Windows phone with me all the time so I don’t need the connectivity while the system is asleep. It does take a longer to wake up from Hibernate but at least now I can choose to go there immediately if I want.

Here’s some more background about Surface Surface Pro and Surface 3 power states: On, off, sleep, and hibernate

Here are some more interesting things to explore.

Windows Touch & Tablet