Trying and failing…

Sometimes you need to take a risk and try things that aren’t a natural fit with your ways of working and preferences.

Sometimes that pays off, and sometimes it really doesn’t.

Ok, I confess, this isn’t a post about meaningful self-development. It’s about my recent attempt to break out of the Apple device ecosystem that I’ve inhabited quite happily for about 8 years. And why after a month I’m retracing my steps…

Before Christmas, circumstances arose that meant we ‘needed’ a new tablet in the house. I wondered if this was the opportunity to go for an iPad Pro, but despite the fact I have multiple OSX and iOS devices in the family, I strongly resist any idea that I’m a fanboy, so I spent some time listing my user needs, thinking carefully about the Minimum Viable Product, and doing some research (trying out products in various shops).

The iPad Pro and pencil, whilst attractive also seemed really big, and I was drawn to the new Surface Pro 4 which seemed just marginally smaller, has an amazing kickstand and a truly brilliant pen/digitiser combination that made notes and diagrams really easy to create. I’m not an artist, but have a specific use case for a tablet that needs a good “paper analogue” so that I can be paper free. As an Enterprise Architect I find that the creative process of sketching ideas out and finding visual ways to communicate is blocked if you try to create straight into a drawing/diagramming application. Drawing freehand has a different effect on the thinking process, but my attempt to be paperless at work means I barely ever have anything at hand to draw on!

I’m not a good enough artist to draw with the tools available on older iPads using the kinds of stylus available. I know others who create brilliant sketch notes, so it’s clear it can be done. But I need a more precision digitiser solution, and that’s what the iPad Pro and Surface Pro offered.

So, after a week or so I convinced myself that buying a Surface Pro 4, with a type cover and Office 365 was the best thing to do. One month later I’ve become so frustrated and disillusioned with the experience that I’m taking it back as “unfit for purpose” and probably going to buy an iPad Pro instead.

I don’t need to detail all of the issues, because they have been described clearly already in a series of blog posts by John Appleby, including:

10 tips to make the most out of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4

http://www.peopleprocesstech.com/10-tips-microsoft-surface-pro-4/

and

On returning my Microsoft Surface Pro 4

http://www.peopleprocesstech.com/on-returning-my-microsoft-surface-pro-4/

Plus several earlier posts detailing his first impressions. My feelings and experience are near enough identical, other than that I only travel a bit around the UK 😁.

Fundamentally, this is a device that should be brilliant but is let down by appalling reliability. Multiple freezes and resets every day just aren’t acceptable when you’ve paid over £1400 for a product. If you don’t believe this, here’s proof, ironically from a great tool MS built into Windows 10!  

Most of those red x’s are hardware and driver failures causing the Surface Pro to fail to wake from sleep. Say what you want about Apple, but my iMac and my wife’s MacBook have been left to sleep and wake for several years of constant usage without any issues!

The whole point about making a device yourself and controlling the hardware as well as the software is that you can release it to the public knowing that every bit works well together. OK, I accept that computer engineering is very challenging and we know that every device, every piece of software has issues, but they shouldn’t be this significant.

So, back to the shop with the Surface Pro 4 it is. It will be interesting to see what their reaction is. Are lots of other people returning them too?

Looks like it’s back to Apple for me…

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