Friday, December 05, 2014

Using Technology Instead of Being Used by Technology

I have written in the past about my Surface RT.  I have been using it for quite a while and simply love it.  It's so easy to use - I find I reach for it before almost any other device.  I read and respond to most of my personal emails using it, I read the news every day using the Bing news feeder, I play games on it, watch Netflix, order pizza on it.  When we need to find something - we use the Surface to Google it.  Yes, it doesn't have the full-blown Windows OS - it uses the RT version of Windows 8.1.  But the RT version is elegant in it's simplicity.  I rarely find myself going If Only.  It does everything I need it to.  Well, almost everything.

I have only been able to find two things it can't do that I wish it could do - both software related.  Because it doesn't run the full version of the Windows OS I have to use the Windows Store as the single source for any application I might want.  There are two applications I would love to be able to run on my Surface - Adobe Elements (a photo organizing and editing tool that I use all the time on my laptop), and Minecraft (a game that Walter and I love to play).  For Adobe Elements there are work-arounds ... I just need to play with some of them to decide what might work the best.  For Minecraft, there is Discovery and Block World - unfortunately, neither of them compares to Minecraft.  The only other issue I've had is that I can't use our current printer with the Surface - it's a few years old and the Surface RT doesn't have the driver for it and the Windows Store doesn't have anything Canon driver's on it.  So I either have to use my laptop or break down and buy a new printer that the Surface can communicate with.  I haven't gone there yet.

When I first got the Surface RT I bought the touch keyboard - an accessory that was used for both keyboarding and as a cover to the screen.  The touch is OK in a pinch, but for long sessions of typing it is a bit of a pain - you have to remember to press, not push, the keys.  I recently bought the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard - a small Bluetooth keyboard that comes with it's own cover, making it extremely portable.  As an added bonus it has a little switch that allows it to pair not only with Windows devices but also Android and iPad/iPhone devices.  The keyboard is small, but it's far easier to type on it for long periods than the touch keyboard.  Along with the keyboard I also got the Microsoft Wedge Touch mouse.  Also a Bluetooth device, it's small and yes, wedge shaped.  Despite it's diminutive size it actually feels quite comfortable in your hand.  The two are a great travelling pair.  I'm sure I will be taking them to meetings and when we go on vacations.  Why didn't I get the Microsoft Type cover and the ARC Touch mouse that they always show paired with the Surface tablets?  Because the Type cover costs $129.99 and the ARC Touch mouse costs $59.99.  That's over $200 with taxes.  My little set cost me just half that.  And I can use them with my ASUS Memo Pad HD 173 Android tablet (it's a 7" tablet that I use to play Minecraft on!) which is a total bonus in my books.

If I were on a tight budget and wondering how best to get setup up with some kind of device that I could write on, be creative on, and connect to the world with ... I think this combination I've put together would be it.  The long battery life, the build quality, the size.  It's not buggy - I'm not worried when I press the power button ... I know it will work.  It's simple to use - Walter and Manuel don't have any difficulty using it.  It's portable and with the long battery life I can go all day without it dying on me.

Would I love to have the Surface Pro 3 and all it's cool accessories?  Of course, but I don't need to spend that kind of money to enjoy what I've got here.

I typed this whole blog post using the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard and Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse.  No hassles encountered.

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