Just re-posting this since it didn’t stay on the front page long.
I spent the last few days in New York. Microsoft brought me out there for their Surface 2 event. It wasn’t just me either. They brought together a whole bunch of people from artists, to filmmakers, to doctors and lawyers, to students and gamers. The common thread was that all of us had talked online about how we were using the Surface in interesting ways. The idea was that they would unveil the new Surface 2 and then the media that was there could come and talk to us about how we use the device and why we think it’s cool.
We were broken up into groups and I ended up landing with the “creatives” although I feel like I could just as easily fallen in with the “gamers”. We got to New York a few days early and MS took us around the city while letting us get to know each other. I met some really awesome people including Roz Hall who is known for his IPad painting but has recently taken to using Fresh Paint on his Surface. His work is incredible and I had a really great time talking shop and sharing tips with him. Also in my super team of rad artists were the Diamond Brothers Josh and Jason. These guys showed off some incredible footage they shot with a Red camera. JR Strickland & Alijah Villian two film makers from Chicago who can do pretty much anything including making awesome commercials. The guys from Assimilate who make software that lets you edit video on your Surface Pro and Amanda Lippert who is a talented actress/film maker from L.A. I feel very honored to have been included in this crew and I had a great time hanging out with them all weekend.
At the actual event I pretty much just stood around drawing on my Surface Pro. People from various news outlets would come by, film me drawing, snap a few pics and sometimes ask me how I use the Surface. The big question seemed to be why I don’t just use an IPad. I had to explain the concept of pressure sensitivity, my need to run programs like Photoshop, Manga Studio and also the power of a real Stylus. I’ve pitched the device to all my artist friends so telling people about why it’s rad for drawing is pretty easy for me at this point. Huge parts of the Tithe have been drawn on my Surface and some pages have been made 100% from start to finish on it. It has literally changed how and where I work. I’m an honest to God fanboy when it comes to the Surface and I was happy to share that passion.
As for the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, I’m very happy with what I saw. Obviously I’m a Pro user so that’s what I was most interested in. Two of my biggest complaints were that the kickstand was cool but when using the device in my lap the viewing angle was no good. Also the battery life was pretty weak. I’ve tried the new kickstand and it does feel much better now when using it in your lap. As for the battery, the performance sounds like it’s significantly better and the power cover provides even more of a boost. I haven’t had a chance to see that for myself but I’m optimistic. I asked a few questions about the stylus and was told that precision near the edges of the screen has been improved. Speaking of the screen the new one looks beautiful and while I never noticed a problem with my current one, a side by side comparison I was shown at the event made me a believer in the new tech.
My pro does exactly what I want it to do now so the better guts in the new one just mean it will do it all faster I suppose. Talking to some of the gaming guys it sounds like You can run some slightly higher end games on the Surface Pro 2 as well. I saw Dota 2 running on a machine there and it looked damn good. My guess is that I’ll be able to crank the graphics settings up a bit on many of the games I’m already playing. The backlight on the new touch and type covers looks really slick and I can see myself using the docking station at the office. I LOVE my current Surface and so I’m very happy that this isn’t a drastic re-imagining of the device. What I wanted was fixes for some of the big issues and minor tweaks all around. It looks like that’s what MS delivered.
As for the concept of the different “blades” that you can snap in…I think it could be cool. I’m not a music guy. I don’t remix songs or create phat beats. What I do is draw and while I’m not interested in the blade they showed, I can think of some designs I would be interested in. My first thought is a blade that still functions when flipped around to the back of the tablet. When I draw on the Surface now I hold it in my left hand and I can imagine a set of buttons and touch pads back there that would let me access certain hot keys when drawing. This would function similar to the touch strip on the back of a Cintiq monitor only maybe more robust.
They will apparently be sending me one of the new Surface Pro 2 machines very shortly. So the question of upgrading has sort of been answered for me. As soon as I have it in my hands I’ll start putting it through its paces for you. We’re leaving on October 5th for a week long vacation and I’m hoping to get the new machine before I take off. Much like the first review I wrote I hope to take it with me and really give it a good test.
Oh I also asked a few questions about their advertising campaign. I’m told there will be no breakdancing!