Technology on the Road


Great for watching "Downton Abbey" on the plane.

Great for watching “Downton Abbey” on the plane.

I’m on a trial run, at least “technically” speaking.  I’m in Costa Rica packing a brand new Microsoft Surface.  It’s a nifty little gadget.  Both of the terms:  “nifty” and “gadget” are key words here.  This trip is short, just a little getaway really, and my new Surface is the only computing power I have with me.

I like travelling light.  But I also like to have the right equipment to do some basic things when I travel.  I like to take pictures of high quality.  I like to write articles about what I’m seeing, illustrate them with a few photos I’ve taken, and then share them with others via my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and email.  In my mind this is not a heavy load.  It’s not like I’m trying to perform some sort statistical regression analysis or anything.  Here are the results of the first two days of real-world use of my new Surface.

I’ve been away only two days so far, but they were two very distinct days, one full day of travelling by various means and one day of sightseeing.  A tablet, such as an iPad or Surface, is certainly easy on the muscles.  I’ve loved the freedom the small size has given me…my day pack interior looked almost lonely at times without my bulky laptop to fill up every square inch of space.  I bought an iPad a couple years ago and also took it on a trial run to London.  It failed miserably for my needs and I literally gave it to a friend.  I had higher hopes for the Surface because of its keyboard (writing blog posts) and the USB port to allow easy attachment of camera, phone, etc.  But I’m afraid that it too will be just a passing fancy for me.  Here’s why:

The email app sucks.  One little slip of my nicotine stained clumsy finger and an email that I was anxious to deal with can be gone somewhere into cyberspace and God knows not where.  The list around email management could go on and on but I will leave it at that because typing on this little sensitive keyboard is extremely frustrating, barely better than using the touch pad both the Surface and the iPad offers.  I type quickly and heavily and I’ve been nearly 45 minutes typing this post so far mostly because my cursor decides to jump to another location in the document without my knowledge undoing much of what I’ve already written.

The pictures look pretty on the Surface (pun intended), but the upside stops there with me.  I like to take pictures with a high pixel quality and then compress them for posting to tweets and my blog.  I have a full day of great sightseeing under my belt and have some gorgeous pictures.  But I just learned the hard way that I can’t compress them for uploading.  I’ve had to change my camera settings to take lower quality pictures.  This is a deal-killer for me.

Yesterday I spent nearly 30 minutes trying to cancel an Avis reservation here in San Jose.  I finally gave up and used some really old technology…I called them.  Too many websites are not optimized for using a touch screen and since I didn’t have the detachable keyboard with me I was up the proverbial creek on the Avis website.

There are several other factors that have frustrated me with the tablet, but I won’t bore you with the details.  My lesson learned is that a tablet computer is a misnomer.  It’s really not a computer as much as it is a big smart phone, except you can’t make a telephone call with it.

The Surface is going back to the Microsoft Store in Century City when I return to LA and I see a good solid netbook in my future.  It seems to be a good compromise for me.

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5 thoughts on “Technology on the Road

  1. I agree with you, Randy. The Surface is less useful than a phone in all categories (and that’s a very big insult). I’ve experimented with mine for the last few days. I’m pretty sure it will end up in a drawer gathering dust before too much longer.

    Enjoy your trip!

  2. So sorry to hear Microsoft didn’t come up with a good piece of equipment. What’s up with its not being able to anticipate users’ needs/wants
    and then match them with the technology? Isn’t Redmond full of talent and money?

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