Rob Carney presents a mostly positive review of the new Surface Pro making special mention of the devices new kick stand, improved pen and extra battery life. Regardless of his positivity his article put me off from the beginning as he poses the question whether the new Surface can rival the iPad Pro for creatives. This one statement suggests a limited understand of the needs of serious creative professionals as the Surface Pro allows for the use of the full Adobe suite compared to iOS apps, this is a point Carney makes but he does not take it to the logical conclusion that creatives who use an iPad Pro would likely need a second device compared to Surface owners. In addition, the implication that the Surface Pro needs to rival the iPad Pro seems to suggest that the iPad is the leader in this convertible category rather than the imitation. Since it was Apple which copied Microsoft in developing a larger tablet with a fold out keyboard and pen input to revitalize its declining tablet sales. In fact, the two devices in some ways shouldn’t even be considered in the same category as the Surface is a true 2 in 1, laptop replacement compared to the iPad which is still a tablet courtesy of iOS.
Regardless of this I may have been able to overlook this ridiculous statement if it had not been later followed by another serious of simplified and flawed comparison. His assertion when you look at it on face value has merit hat for the price of a Surface $2699 USD + another $159 USD for the keyboard and $99 USD for the pen you could buy both the $1899 USD touch bar 13-inch Macbook pro and the 12-inch iPad Pro at $799 + another $99 pencil and $169 for the keyboard stand. However, once you look deeper it is quickly clear that you are getting more for the price with a Surface Pro as it firstly comes with a four core i7 processor with significant advantages in clock speed and cache memory before even considering hyper threading when compare to the MacBook’s duel core i5. In addition, the Surface comes with 16Gb of RAM, 1TB SSD hard drive and a screen with 267 pixels per inch compared to the Macbook’s 8GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD hard drive and a Retina display with a pixel density of 227 per inch but this isn’t even the whole story as Apple does allow uses to customise the top end 13-inch Mac to bring it in line with the Surface specs of course this option increase the cost to $2709 USD which means your no longer getting that iPad. Considering that the fact that the Surface still has the clear advantage over the Mac through form factor it represents better value for money even with the $250 for accessories. On the other side if we wanted to bring the Surface Specs down to match the Mac for an i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and sacrificing a little on the hard drive at 256 GB it only costs $1299, a good $600 less than the Mac. My point in giving all these numbers is to emphasis that price is relative and isn’t the clean comparison that Carney suggests simply you get what you pay for.
My final criticism of Carney’s review is he states that the Surface Pro “doesn’t have enough flexibility in its ports (there’s only one USB, a MicroSD slot and a Mini DisplayPort” in comparison to top of the range Macbook Pro which is a bit ridiculous considering the Macbook doesn’t have any flexibility. The newest Macbook Pro famously only comes with 3 Thunder bolt USB C ports which granted are the newest technology but it means that users need dongles for everything, even connecting you iPhone to your Laptop. In addition, it is unwise for people to play down the importance of a SD card slots since as it is the primary method of data storage for photographers and I believe it has been a gross oversite of Macs for some time to fail to include one. Still using my own Surface Pro 1 at home I have found the use of MicroSD’s has replaced my use of USB storage devices as I can easily transfer data from my desktop PC which has memory card slot to my Surface and then using an adapter which normally comes with the SD card insert it back into my Nikon D3200 but I guess I can always spend another $49 dollars on an adapter I only need if I brought a Mac which is more expensive than a USB hub for $30 that I could easily add to my surface if I needed more than one port. Granted the newest surface should have included a USB C connection since it is the future but it is hardly the deal breaker that Carney suggests it is since as at least for now nearly all accessories still require a normal USB port, even devices that have adapted USB C like my Galaxy 8 still use the old connection on the other end of the cord. This isn’t even considering an iPad which does not give consumers any form of USB connections to remain thin regardless of the fact that it has hampered its ability to become a Laptop replacement or an SD card slot since it would provide an option for people to expand the memory without paying more on the purchase price. Either Apple device Carney wants to compare the Surface to it is clearly a bad joke to suggest that they offer more port flexibility for the price.
Perhaps what is off putting is that from the opening it seems like another Apple fan is trying to seem un biased by writing a mostly positive review of a competitor’s product but ultimately it falls flat through his laughable attempts to dodge simple facts.
Day one of Mobile World Congress was all about the newest flagships from LG and Samsung. The last couple of weeks have been full of speculation but now it’s official let’s check the special that matter.
Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
The big predictions all came true with Samsung announcing the return of expandable memory through microSD support, water resistance and microUSB charger. In addition Samsung has listened to consumers and sacrificed weight for better battery life with a 3000mAh powering the 5.1 inch S7 and a 3600mAh in the 5.5inch edge. This is a large improvement from the 2550mAh in the S6 and miles ahead of the 1750mAh in the iPhone 6s and will hopefully translate to better life. Unsurprising the rest of the internals have been upgraded with a 2.3ghz 64 bit octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM which translates to a 30% improvement on its predecessor.
The key to a good phone isn’t just the hardware and Samsung hasn’t forgotten to upgrade it’s version of Android bringing Marshmallow out of the box. It also comes with a new always on feature like the LG G4 which allows uses to check the time without waking the phone and therefore saving battery life. The other major change is the duel pixel technology which allows the camera to operate better in low light conditions and focuses faster to get the most out of the camera. The edge also brings with it a few new features in the ‘tasks edge’ to pin specific tasks and ‘edge panel’ for widgets. Over the next few days at MWC every one will be putting these through their paces so check back for a hands on.
I have never really paid much attention to LG as a phone maker since it took them a little while to move passed cheap Android phones. The main point of difference with the S7 is that the G5 is a modular phone with the ability to swap out components. These modules can be used to added extra battery life, physical camera buttons and an amp with 32 bit audio output.
The internals are comparable to the S7 with a 5.3 inch display, 4 GB of RAM, a 2800mAh battery upgradeable to 3000mAh, microSD support and a 64 bit Snapdragon 820 processor. Beside the module upgrade slot the other point of difference is the inclusion of a double rear camera with a 16mp and a 8mp ‘wide angle’ which captures 135 degrees compared to 75 for the main shooter. Based on the early first impressions it sounds like this is something uses will have to get use but should hopefully decrease the appearance of the selfie stick. Not having used an LG before I’m not sure how their particular flavour of Android compares to the TouchWiz UI found on Samsung phones but for many this may be the deciding factor.
Not to be Forgotten
Some what overshadowed by the other announcements HTC revealed four new handsets including the One X9 with an octal-core processor, 3GB of RAM and a 3000mAh battery which makes it a decent middle to top range handset but nothing to get excited about. The Desire 825 and Desire 630 share the same date snapdragon 400 and 2GB of RAM but the larger Desire 825 has a slightly bigger battery to power the 5.5 inch screen. HTC’s final device the Desire 530 is obviously aimed at the budget market with a snapdragon 210 and only 1.5 GB of RAM it’s hardly a device to really get much attention.
Not to be left out Sony announced a whole new Xperia line of handsets. The midrange XA offers an edge to edge slightly curved display which is left out from its more powerful siblings but gives it a unique selling point. An upgrade to the flagship the Xperia X packs a snapdragon 610 processor and 3 GB of RAM alongside a 23 megapixel camera, an upgrade to that found on the Z5. Finally, the X Performance is equipped to fight with the big boys as it pairs the same impressive camera with a snapdragon 820 and includes water and dust resistance. Although it has created a little confusion with Sony’s existing line up of Xperia phones the X line up gained plenty of admires at MWC and seems to have faired better than HTC less inspiring announcements.
Stay tune for more from MWC including a wrap of the other major phone announcements, tablets and virtual reality.