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.

A True Tablet/Laptop Hybrid Arrives

With Christmas fast approaching I wanted to write one more time before the end of the year about Microsoft Surface line of tablets. This is truly the first affordable and usable tablet/laptop hybrid available today.

There are two distinct versions here so be aware of the differences before you decide to purchase one.

First there is the Surface RT (gen 1) or Surface 2 (gen 2). This version does not run Windows Pro and therefore you can not run native Windows applications and you are restricted to the Windows Store for your applications. However this one does come with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook pre-installed. If you primarily only use your tablet for Microsoft Office services, email and internet this one can be found for under $300 (RT) and $449 (Surface 2).

The more powerful (and expansive) version is the Surface Pro (gen 1) and Surface Pro 2 (gen 2). Here you get everything that comes with the RT or Surface 2 but because it is running full Windows 8.1 you can run any native Windows application. This one starts at $899.

For me I have the Surface Pro 2 and during my recent vacation away from the office I was able to travel with this exclusively with no need to also drag along a laptop. This is a big deal to me because I often have to work on the road, connect in to various workstations and servers to provide remote support. I was called upon to do this several times this past trip and the Surface Pro 2 performed admirably. What a sense of freedom it was to only have to bring this small form factor tablet/PC with me!  I have never before found anything that could handle these tasks outside of a laptop. Because this also acts as a tablet you can get away with leaving your iPAD behind as well.

The Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 can also be connected to a dock ($199) at your office which when connected to your local network can act as an office PC. When you work day is done you simply disconnect from the dock and travel how with your tablet/PC.

The dock has plenty of USB ports, video/audio out, LAN and is self powered.
The Surface sits very nice in the dock and connects by pushing the 2 sides in.
Once connected you can use your Surface on your local network.
With the dock you can of course use a large monitor, keyboard, mouse and external speakers. This is a great setup for your office and allows you to truly have a travelling office.
If someone is looking for a good laptop/tablet hybrid this is what I currently recommend

Surface 2 & Surface 2 Pro Details Emerge

This week Microsoft announced the release of their next generation of the Surface tablet family. There is a little confusion here regarding the two – very different tablets so here are some details to consider.

The Surface 2 is built around an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, which increases battery life to up to 10 hours and makes apps run faster and more smoothly, according to Microsoft.

It has a 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display.

Both the Surface 2’s 3.5-MP front camera and the rear 5-MP camera can capture 1080p HD video; both have improved low-light performance.

Surface 2 will ship with Windows 8 RT 8.1, which offers improved personalization, search, and multitasking; built-in apps; and cloud connectivity.

The Surface 2 will include Xbox Music for streaming songs and an updated video app, and it will come preloaded with Microsoft Office RT, including Outlook RT.

Be aware that the Surface 1 and 2 tablets cannot run Windows applications, only apps written specifically for the “RT” software. This is the software (apps) available directly in the Microsoft store. Think of the iPad. This is exactly the same limitation.

The one I am really excited about it the Surface Pro 2 which is built around an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor.

It has a 512-GB flash hard drive.

Users can snap apps side by side, and open as many windows as they need.

The Surface Pro 2 has a pressure-sensitive Surface Pen with palm-blocking technology. It has a 1080p HD screen.

Both tablets have a full-size USB 3.0 port, an HD Video Out port, and a microSD reader.

Both tablets come with one year of free calling to landlines in more than 60 countries; free Skype WiFi at more than 2 million hotspots worldwide; and two years’ free access to 200 GB of additional storage on SkyDrive.

Surface Details

With the Surface family knowing the details is critical before making a purchase. Theerefore consumers should examine their specifications and limitations before purchasing either tablet.

Although Microsoft Office is include with the Surface 2 there is some functionality limitations.

Microsoft Office for the Surface Pro 2 will be sold separately, so factor that into your calculations, however you will be able to install any Windows application on the tablet, which is a huge plus. Think of an iPad with any Windows program you would like available on the tablet.

Surface Details

The Surface 2 will be offered in 32-GB and 64-GB configurations. Pricing will begin at $450.

The Surface Pro 2 will be available in 64-GB and 128-GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM, and 256-GB and 512-GB versions with 8 GB of RAM. Prices begin at $900.

Accessories are not included of course in this pricing and there are many new accessories being offered with these new tablets, which were previously unavailable before. two of the new accessories I am most excited about is a “charging keyboard” and “docking station” (above).

Surface Consideration

The Surface 2 (RT) is still priced a little higher than it should be, especially if Microsoft is hoping to steal some of the Android  market share on the consumer side of tablet sales. The Surface Pro 2 is an improvement on the already great hardware from the initial Surface Pro tablet however it is a couple of hundred dollars more then the RT version.

I don’t believe you can think of the Surface Pro 2 as a tablet. It is much closer to a really good ultrabook or small laptop. If you travel or if you simply want to get work done on the smallest form factor possible without giving up power, the Surface Pro 1 and 2 are excellent options.

The Surface in Public

There may be hope for Microsoft’s Surface after all. This evening while waiting for a seat at out local watering hole, Victory Brewing Company I took notice of a guy checking in and waiting next too me. It looked like he was holding a Microsoft Surface tablet and I walked up and asked, “Hey is that a Microsoft Surface Tablet” you have there? He responded that “Yes – indeed It was’. We then had a great conversation comparing it to Apple’s IPAD. It was quickly established that we were both in the technology field and we both believed it was far superior to the IPAD in many ways. In fact I asked him if he “missed his IPAD” at which he responded that he lost track where “his IPAD even was at this point”. We both agreed that the small sleek form factor with the ability to install and run any Windows application made the surface the best tablet on the market at this point.

In addition we both agreed that the Surface tablet had enough computing power to – in many ways replace both the tablet and the laptop, resulting in a much easier life for many of us.

Our conversation sadly ended when our table was ready and I could see the wife walking off into the distance.. looking back and me… after which I said goodbye and followed Mrs. Mann.

Android Takes a Bite Out of Apple

I know this is a technology blog and not a market blog but I came upon this information this morning and just had to share. As anyone who reads this tech blog knows I have a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and in fact it won the prestigious December 2010 “gadget of the month” on this very blog. As the past several weeks have gone by my love affair with my tablet has only matured and grown. The mixture of the convienenant 7″ size and reliable Android software makes this a great mobile device for both work and pleasure. Anyway on to today’s exciting market news.

Bloomsberg reported today that Android tablets have grabbed 22% of the market share this quarter. Samsung and Android must be very exicited about this turn of events. Unlike Apple’s long masterly run at controlling the MP3 market with their IPOD, Android, and partners such as Samsung are going to be on their heals in the tablet market.

I don’t expect Apple to continue plunging dramatically in the tablet market, however it is exciting to see their share reduced from 96% to 75% in just one quarter thanks to Android and Samsung.