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It's the first time in 7 years. I got a new laptop - and it was no easy task trying to come up with an appropriate option. You see, I'm pretty picky about the technology I use and I want it to last a long time. After all, I DID have my last laptop for 7 years - and it still actually works quite well.
What I had before was a Lenovo Thinkpad X61 convertible tablet. For its day, it was a quite capable little device. Fairly lightweight, with the first generation of Core2 mobile chips, upgraded to 4gb of RAM and a 128gb SSD to make it quite fast - even running Windows 8.1 (update 1) with fast boot times and overall great performance. So why did I replace it? Well, the Thinkpad screens of this time period had issues with the adhesive that holds the screen cover on. The glue strip that sits beneath the bezel on it breaks down over time and seeps out of every opening on the front of the device as well as allows air bubbles to get under the glass that covers the LCD screen. There are a LOT of these bubbles on mine at this point, which is distracting. Also, since I do a lot with websites and graphics, I need the screen to look good and translate colors well, which this screen was no longer doing.
All that out of the way, I started my research into a suitable replacement. I looked at the Microsoft Surface 3 Pro, the Dell XPS 12, the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 2 Pro, the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 2, and the Lenovo Helix as my primary options. I'm not a fan of HP stuff so I didn't even look at it. While I like ASUS for motherboards and monitors, their devices haven't generally thrilled me. Toshiba seems to be a pretty mixed bag depending on exactly which model you get, and I had to limit my options somewhere. Each of these had their issues and at the end of the day, I decided that the Surface was the one to go with.
My primary reservation was the "lapability" - a Microsoft term created by Panos Panay of Microsoft. I use my laptop in a lot of places, but unlike a lot of people who have weighed in on it, I don't often use it on a desk, table, or other hard surface in "laptop mode". I typically use it in my lap at home, in server closets, cramped areas that wish they were server closets, and in meetings with clients or places like networking groups. In all of these cases, I needed something that could be convenient and comfortable enough to use without issue.
Here's a new Youtube video showing some of the lap-use cases:
There are a lot of pretty obvious things going on here, such as the performance of an i5 processor, and decent SSD, etc. Here are some of the high points of the unit for me:
I am not much of an "apps" person. I have a few that I'd like to have, but much prefer actual Windows programs to apps. While there are those that I would like to have, the tradeoffs of having a full Windows PC that works as a laptop or a tablet far outweigh the interests in a few applications that I don't really NEED. Let's face it, a lot of people have "their apps" that they have to have, but I often find that they are things like Facebook, Twitter, some banking thing, and Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds!
I have had the laptop now for about 1 week and so far, I REALLY like it. I've done a website template build on it (Joomla custom coding using Aptana studio, so lots of typing and special key use), a number of graphic manipulations in Xara Designer Pro, and some general internet research/browsing in both laptop and tablet modes. There hasn't been anything that I've tried to do on it that I haven't been able to or anything that I've felt compelled to go back to my old laptop to do because it was more comfortable or whatever.
This device is NOT for everyone. You have to be open to a good bit of change, accepting that the keyboard is completely different to what you are probably used to, and you need to be willing to purchase a somewhat premium product. It's a great ultrabook and a good tablet. I can imagine that if you got the docking station for this one, it could really be a good device for use both at the desk and away from the office. With the option to split mini display port to multiple monitors (in the i5 version you can support up to two 2k monitors + the surface display itself), it could build a pretty powerful office desktop system with full keyboard and mouse plus all of the other stuff above. It's a pricey addition, but could definitely increase the reach of the device.
I look forward to a number of years with this device, going through the next few revisions of Windows and what comes with that.
If you are looking for a new laptop, take a look at the Surface 3 Pro. You might be surprised how nice Microsoft has made this device in most aspects. I'd love to hear your questions or comments below, so please feel free to share.