Microsoft Surface Tablets Fail Patriots

Surface may be the “official tablet of the NFL,” but a one-sided problem during the AFC Championship game Sunday between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots isn’t the kind of awareness Microsoft is trying to build by outfitting teams with its slates.

Microsoft executives watching the game must have freaked out when they heard the following.

“On the Patriots’ sideline here, they’re having some trouble with their Microsoft Surface tablets,” reported Evan Washburn of CBS early in the second quarter. “That last defensive possession, the Patriots’ coaches did not have access to those tablets to show the pictures to the players. The NFL officials have been working at it. Some of those tablets are back in use, but not all of them. A lot of frustration that they didn’t have them that last possession.”

“That last possession” resulted in a Broncos score. It wasn’t immediately known what the specific issue affecting the tablets was.

Denver, which was hosting the game, reportedly did not have problems with their Surface tablets. Another sideline reporter spoke with the NFL which said it didn’t need to shut down the Broncos’ tablets as only New England was having problems, and it was after kickoff. The same reporter also talked to a Microsoft Surface representative who said that the Patriots are using hard wires to “keep [the tablets] going.”

Twitter erupted with reaction, some even dubbing the situation “Tabletgate.”

Microsoft paid the NFL $400 million to put Surfaces into every facet of the game, though it’s not uncommon to hear TV analysts and others refer to the tablets as “iPads.” If it’s any solace to Microsoft, that probably won’t happen again after today.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson has issued a statement reporting a network issue had caused the problem for the New England Patriots and not the tablets themselves.

“Our team on the field has confirmed the issue was not related to the tablets themselves but rather an issue with the network,” a spokesperson said. “We worked with our partners who manage the network to ensure the issue was resolved quickly.”

The problem lasted for about 20 minutes and I would suggest, had no impact on the game itself.

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The New Surface 3 Gets Air Time

Microsoft has started advertising and selling the new Surface 3. This is a lighter, and less expensive version then the Surface Pro 3, but for many consumers it packs enough power to make it a worthwhile investment. Microsoft has also posted a new commercial for the 10.8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet. The advertisement may be a little flashy for me and probably tries a little too hard to be “hip” but it does accurately demonstrate some of the highlights of the new Surface.

The commercial points out things like how light (622g) and how thin (8.7 mm) the Surface 3 is, along with its ports like USB 3.0, DisplayPort and its Micro-USB port for charging (a nice change from the pro charging port). It shows off its 3-position kickstand, its ability to run Windows 8.1 and all its apps and how it can be upgraded to Windows 10 when it officially launches.

While it’s not the most exciting TV commercial I have seen, and it may be a little loud this new Surface 3 ad does gets its points across clearly. The Surface line continues to improve and has come the closet of any other product on the market today of successfully merging the laptop with the tablet.

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Reading Your Tablet in Bed is Not Good for Sleep

iPad_BedLast week a new study confirmed something I had already figured out myself. You see although I am a technology junkie I have never had much luck reading my tablet or even e-book reader in bed. I always found that the bright light of the screen at night caused an uneasiness falling asleep and sometimes even a headache.

The new study I am referring to found that the glow form smart phones, tablets and other devices may be disrupting sleeping patterns. Researchers report that they now believe the effect the devices have may be more profound than originally thought.

To conduct the study, researchers took a look at 12 adults during a two-week inpatient stay, reported The Los Angeles Times. Some of the participants were asked to read an iPad for four hours each night before bedtime for five nights. The rest of the study participants were given printed books to read in dim light. After a week, the two groups switched.

After the researchers observed the participants, they found that the group with the iPads took longer to fall asleep then those without. In fact, those who use tablets and other devices for bed took an average of 10 minutes longer to fall asleep, American Live Wire reported. As a result, they spent less time in restorative rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

This is very important because REM sleep is the restorative part of the sleep cycle. Typically, you begin the sleep cycle with a period of non-REM sleep followed by a very short period of REM sleep. The period of NREM sleep is made up of stages 1-4. Each stage can last from five to 15 minutes. A completed cycle of sleep consists of a progression from stages 1-4 before REM sleep is attained, then the cycle starts over again.

“It may be having a greater impact than we previously thought,” said Anne-Marie Chang, a study co-author. Chang is a bio-behavioral health professor at Penn State.

Researchers also found the iPad group to be groggy and less alert the next day. The Kindle e-reader is the only device that proved to be an exception because it does not emit light and is similar to a printed book.

“When you are reading on a light-emitting device, you are directly staring at the light source, whereas if you are reading using a bedside lamp for example, the light that you are receiving is a lot less intense”, said Chang.

“A lot of people think this is psychological,” said Charles Czeisler, director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “But what we showed is that reading from light-emitting, e-reader devices has profound biological effects.”

I suggest that when your day is done you take a good old fashioned book to bed with you and if it must be an e-book reader use a Kindle Paper White which does not use a back light. In addition not taking electronics to bed will allow you to take a break from technology and your work day, and of course it will be less of a fire hazard.

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Surface on the Sideline this NFL Season

First Microsoft’s Surface Tablets (and Windows Phones) were seen exclusively in CBS’s “Under the Dome” now Microsoft is seeking to conquer the NFL.

The NFL is receiving a major tech upgrade in time for the start of the 2014 season, thanks to the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet.

As part of a lucrative deal with the NFL, Microsoft is providing 13 tablets to each team, running a single program that can quickly show photographs of how the opposition is lining up during each play.

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Up until now coaches have relied on team photographers taking photos before and after each snap, printing them out in black and white and rushing them down to the field in binders for analysis.

It’s not uncommon to watch a quarterback like the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning come to the sideline after an offensive series and start flipping through a book of photographs showing how defenses react to offensive formations. Now Manning and the other quarterbacks in the NFL will have a Surface Pro 2 to help them understand what just went wrong.

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The Surface Pro 3 – One Device to Control Them All?

Can Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 actually replace your laptop & tablet? That’s a big question and one that Microsoft has been trying to answer (with a yes) since October of 2012 when the first Surface tablet was released. Since that first Surface there have been two major updates, the Surface Pro 2 and now the Surface Pro 3.

The Surface Pro 3 brings a surprisingly lightweight and thin design, especially considering the power inside.

The Surface Pro 3 brings a surprisingly lightweight and thin design, especially considering the power inside.

 

There is another line of Surface tablets, as well which do not have the “Pro” tag attached. These run a “tablet only” version of Windows and these are not the ones I am writing about here.

So lets get on with it. Can the Surface Pro 3 actually replace your tablet & laptop, and is Microsoft on to something here?

The Surface Pro 3 has a bigger screen than its predecessors (12”), is more powerful and comes with better accessories. All in all, there are five models, ranging in storage (64 GB to 512 GB), power (Intel i3, i5 and i7 Processors) and price ($799 to $1,949).

If you really want to replace a laptop, you’re looking at any of the four best models (which start at $999). At these levels, the insides of the Surface Pro 3 are essentially the same as what’s inside a MacBook Air.

For Windows users, the Surface Pro 3 holds a great advantage over other tablets. it will run 100 percent of your Windows programs. This is a big plus for the professional user.

The hinge on the Surface Pro 3 is a great leap forward for making these mobile devices "comfortable" regardless of where we choose to use them.

The hinge on the Surface Pro 3 is a great leap forward for making these mobile devices “comfortable” regardless of where we choose to use them.

 

Surface’s New Hinge

The new hinge has what Microsoft is calling “infinite flexibility.” With it, you can turn the device upside down, you can stand it up and you can prop it just about any way you can think of. This really makes using the Surface very comfortable, on your lap, on a table or anywhere.

Thew new stylus brings OneNote alive in ways that even previous OneNote users were not expecting.

The new stylus brings OneNote alive in ways that even previous OneNote users were not expecting.

 

Surface’s New Pen

One of the exciting new features with the Surface Pro 3 is the “pen.” However it is far more than just a simple stylus. The pen has two buttons: an eraser and a selector. When you click the top of the pen, Microsoft OneNote immediately opens, even if the device is locked. The pen is particularly excellent and it transforms OneNote into something special. If you are already a OneNote user this will be a must have and if you have not tried out OneNote this will entice you to give it a try.

The Surface Pro Target User

I am asked this question many times. “I need a new tablet, what should I get”. This is really a loaded question because everyone uses these devices differently. I basically divide tablet users into two categories. The “consumer” and the “creator”. The consumer uses a tablet to take in content, such as reading email, online articles, social media and gaming. The creator is also creating documents such as word, excel and photo editing.

Students and professionals who want to have the best of both worlds (creator and consumer) should seriously consider the Surface Pro 3. However If you basically use a tablet as a consumer the Surface’s advantages are probably not worth the expense.

The i5 models ($999 for 128 GB or $1,299 for 256 GB) are good devices. The i7 models ($1,549 for 256 GB or $1,949 for 512 GB) bring more processing power and more hard drive space. I would stay away from the $799 model (an i3 with 128 GB of storage). The i5 models are available now, while the i3 and i7 models will start shipping on August 1.

My Thoughts

When tablets were originally being designed before Apple’s iPad, something like the Surface tablets was what everyone was expecting. Finally Microsoft has committed to moving in the direction of truly creating a laptop/tablet hybrid. The problem here for Microsoft is that millions of users have been trained to only expect certain things from their tablets such as using them as consumer devices (only) and worse yet to only do one task at a time. And here is another area where the Surface shines. Unlike the iPad you can actually multitask easily and even display two applications side by side as you use them. The Surface does just about everything better then the iPad and especially Android tablets. However many people simply do not need the processing power of a Surface tablet.

So if you do have greater expectations for your “tablet” and want one device to act as both your tablet & laptop the Surface Pro 3 is a great option.

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Surface 3 Surfaces

As you are probably aware I have been a big fan of the Microsoft Surface line of tablets/laptops since their initial release in October of 2012. I can travel with the Surface Pro knowing that I can get some real work done, which often includes, writing, remote support sessions as well as more day to day consumer tasks like reading the news, email and surfing the internet.

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Up until now Microsoft has had 2 generations of the Surface Pro and each one brought very nice improvements and so I patiently waited for May 20th to get here to see what was in store for the third generation.

As promised Microsoft in New York City yesterday confirmed it will release the rumored Surface Pro 3, which of course uses Windows 8.1 an Intel Core processor and now with a 12 inch screen.

Microsoft is promoting the Surface Pro 3 as the “tablet that can replace your laptop”. This is something that I have been suggesting since it’s initial release back in 2012 and now with its 12 inch screen, a resolution of 2160 x 1440 and a 3:2 aspect ratio and an amazing light weight (800g) Microsoft is now openly in line with my vision. 

The tablet has an Intel Core i3 through i7 processor (depending on the model you choose) inside sporting a thin case design that’s just 9.1 mm thick, along with “new fan technology that is 30% more efficient than previous solutions.

Another big improvement with the tablet will include an upgraded kickstand, bending down to display the tablet as far as a 150-degree angle. This may actually make using the tablet on your tablet… comfortable.

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One of my favorite accessories for my Surface Pro 2 is the docking station and the Surface Pro 3 will also get its own docking station.

Microsoft was also showing off the new Type Covers for the Surface Pro 3, which reportedly bring some major improvements for its track pad compared to the previous versions of the covers. The new covers also connect in a different way to the Surface Pro 3 offering better stability for when users have the tablet and cover on their laps.

Microsoft's new pen and writing technology which is being introduced with the Surface Pro 3 could be a game changer.

Microsoft’s new pen and writing technology which is being introduced with the Surface Pro 3 could be a game changer.

A game changer could be with Microsoft’s new pen. With this new pen, you can open OneNote from any application (with a click of the pen) and write notes with their new ink technology. the new Surface size & weight reportedly makes fora very good experience here.

The color of the Surface Pro 3 appears to be magnesium, the same as the Surface 2.

The starting price of the Surface Pro 3 will be $799 and went on sale today at the Microsoft Store website. The tablet will also go on sale June 20 at Microsoft’s retail stores in the U.S and Canada, along with other retailers. By the end of August, it will be on sale in 26 other countries.

This could be the first ever true “one tablet/laptop to rule them all!”

At least that’s what Microsoft is hoping for. 

You can learn more here.

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Microsoft’s Surface Power Cover

You can see that at first glance there is not much difference from the standard  keyboard. But this one is heaver and packing more battery power.

You can see that at first glance there is not much difference from the standard keyboard. But this one is heaver and packing more battery power.

If you are a regular and dedicated reader you are probably aware that I am a big fan of the Microsoft Surface. First released in October of 2012 this little tablet/laptop hybrid has gone through 2 generations in both of of its incarnations. This can be a little confusing but there is basically a “tablet” type version known as the “Surface” line and the full fledged no limitations Windows version known as the “Surface Pro” line. Of course the “Surface Pro” line will cost you a couple hundred dollars more then the “tablet only” line but for me this has turned into my go to mobile work device.

Anyway if there is one area where Microsoft has been slow is the availability of add-on accessories for their Surface line. Other then a mouse, dock and a couple keyboards there has not been much released yet. Unlike the iPad, accessories have been rare.

One accessory that I had been waiting for was the Surface Power Cover which also acts as the detachable keyboard. Although this was released back in March I have only recently been able to get a hold of one. Out of the box, at first glance this looks exactly like the Type Cover 2. However there are some slight physical differences, obviously a result of the battery hiding inside.

if you are familiar with the Surface Type Cover 2 you will notice that other then a little thicker there is no physical difference between the two.

if you are familiar with the Surface Type Cover 2 you will notice that other then a little thicker there is no physical difference between the two.

At 1.2 pounds this keyboard alone weighs in more then the iPad Air. So like anything else, you give up something (more weight) but you will have more battery life when out and about.

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You connect the Power Cover in the exact same was as an other Surface typing cover. The only difference I can see are two large bumps which have little connectors on them that probably transmit power to the device.

The Microsoft Surface Cover self installs the first time you connect it. Afterward when clicking on the battery icon on your taskbar you will actually see 2 batteries. The battery on the new Surface Cover is used first, followed by the tablet iself.

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Unlike the other Surface keyboards this one is only available in black and I recommend it if you own a Surface and travel. The added weight is the biggest hurdle here but that aside this is a fine addition for anyone with a Surface.

You can purchase one of these for $199.99 at Microsoft’s website or allegedly at Staples or Best Buy.

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Why Are Mobiles Devices So Tough?

This morning as I was leaving for work I entered the garage but realizing that I had forgotten my new briefcase I placed my mobile devices (Surface Pro & iPad) on the trunk of my vehicle, along with my travel mug of coffee. Returning from the house, with my briefcase in hand I was shocked to find that both mobile devices had slid off the trunk and landed on the hard concrete floor of my garage!

An actual re-creation of how the devices landed in my garage this morning.

An actual re-creation of how the devices landed in my garage this morning.

 

The first thing I notice as you can see by the recreation pictured above is that the Microsoft Surface was face up (and on) and the iPad was still snuggled in it’s case. Not panicking I placed both devices in the briefcase, jumped in the car and drove off to work not really worried that much.

But why wasn’t I worried?

Our mobile devices are really designed, by necessity to be tough. Its all about keeping these devices as small as possible that makes them almost indestructible. The designers of these amazing mobile devices must pack everything in so tight that there is very little space for anything to move or dislodge. Therefore even when we drop them like I did earlier this morning, very often because of the tightness of all the components – parts are simply stuck in place.

Here you can see an open iPad mini.  Almost 80% of the space it taken up by the battery and the other components are all squeezed up against one another.

Here you can see an open iPad mini. Almost 80% of the space it taken up by the battery and the other components are all squeezed up against one another.

 

Now of course the glass (screen) can break if it hits the surface from a fall, but as you can see by the (recreated) picture above of my mobile devices luckily both landed screen up. The Surface had no case at all and still was not damaged.

Of course there are times if a device hits the ground at the right angle and speed that internal damage will be done but this is simply not the norm so you need to be more careful then I was this morning… just to be safe.

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Good News Continues for the Surface

I have been impressed with Microsoft’s Surface line since their first introduction back in October of 2012. Since then there have been 2 models released, each with 2 generations. In my opinion the Surface line is the first truly successful tablet/laptop hybrid available. Sure there are many types of Windows 8 tablets out there, but in my opinion Microsoft has the winner here. It appears from the holiday sales figures that Microsoft may be gaining ground on it’s competitors.

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One of the best things about the Surface tablet is traveling with one device that can truly function as a tablet or a laptop.

Holiday sales and post-holiday usage numbers show big gains for Surface tablets. Is this a one-time blip or is this a sign of things to come?

The latest sales figures show big upticks for the Surface line come from the online ad network Chikita. Its most recent numbers show that the Surface line had 2.3% of all Internet tablet traffic in the post-Christmas period. That might not sound like a lot, but a year ago, its usage number was only 0.4%.

In more good news for Microsoft the Surface line also out sold the entire Google Nexus line of tablets. Chitika notes:

Microsoft’s Surface lineup also continued its impressive year end run. Surface users generated more tablet traffic than all Google Nexus tablet users following the holiday, making Microsoft the fourth-largest source of continental tablet Web traffic should it maintain the lion’s share of this latest share growth.

Although Microsoft is well behind Apple’s iPAD with 72% it is gaining ground on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab (9%) and the Google Nexus (9%). This must also be encouraging for Microsoft given the fact that their tablet line has only been around since the 4th quarter of 2012 while Apple and Android have been in the game far longer.

Also to be considered is that a number of outlets were sold out of Surface 2 tablets in the run-up to Christmas. In addition, the old Windows RT-based Surface tablet was the best-selling item at Best Buy on Black Friday, ahead of the Apple’s iPad.

I believe this is very good news for Microsoft and proves that their first try computer hardware has a lot of promise. It will be a long time before the Surface actually closes in on the iPad but it’s market share will continue improving as consumers who want more from their tablet consider something different.

Hey wasn’t that Apple’s tagline several years ago?

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2014 Tech Predictions

Well 2014 has arrived and everyone is making their predictions for what we can expect in the technology world during the next 12 months. As is usually the case there are many opinions about what will work and what will fail. Not wanting to be left out I will throw my hat into the ring on some predictions – so here we go.

1. Wearable Technology will continue to become more important and successful. Although many were not impressed with the smart watches released in 2013 I liked what I saw in particular with Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. Sure it is a little big and clunky but in the last quarter of the year there were some nice software improvements made including better Facebook and Twitter integration. More of these watches will be arriving soon and I believe the trend is in their favor. The loser in this field will be the Google Glass line. Trust me.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Gear

 

2. Microsoft will slowly gain more market share in the mobile world with the Surface tablet line as well as the third party Windows tablets being released. These are excellent products and really do offer an advantage over apple and android tablets for those who want to use their devices for work and home. Also Microsoft has started releasing really great accessories for their Surface line including a dock and coming soon a keyboard which can also charge your device.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 2

 

3. When it comes to smartphones of course Android and Apple will continue to dominate, however Microsoft will slowly gain ground and Blackberry, the once dominate player in mobile will finally be put of their misery as the company will sell off it’s hardware side, probably to a company in China. Blackberry will then try to survive as a small services company.

Smartphones-20131

4. Cloud Services will continue to become more important to both enterprise users and consumers alike. In addition there will be some hurdles as many of the small cloud providers fail with the big players like Microsoft, Google and Amazon increasing their subscriber base. Microsoft’s 365 in particular will continue to become more popular as the year moves on.

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5. On the consumer end 4K televisions will become the primary sets being sold in 2014. 4K sets have struggled to take hold which is basically because they are expensive and most people simply cannot tell the difference between 1080p and 4K. However TV manufacturers will be building 4K into the majority of their products so the consumer will have little choice here.

6. Microsoft’s Windows 8 will finally start to become widely accepted for two primary reasons. These are that (1) Windows 8.1 which was recently released returned the much missed “start button” and (2) in April 2014 Microsoft will stop supporting XP. Microsoft has threatened this several times in the past but this time I believe they are serious as Windows 8 adoption is critical to their future.

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7. Desktop computer sales will continue to struggle as tablets continue becoming more popular. Even laptop sales will have seen their better days. Many consumers now rely solely on their tablets and smartphones for their computing needs. Enterprise users and professionals of course will continue to need desktop computers and laptops but the consumer market will continue to shrink.

8. Physical digital media like DVD and BluRay technology will also struggle as streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon expand their services becoming more affordable and accessible.

So Many Streaming Choices

So Many Streaming Choices

 

I could go on and on but these are the big tech stories to watch during the year. It is going to be exciting that’s for sure!

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