Using the Surface Pro 3 as my main PC

I’m all about technology and how to best utilize tech in helping to maximize workflow for our clients. Technology isn’t always the answer, but many times a simple tweak to your existing technology can help improve your processes. That’s the case so far with my workflow. I’m a huge fan of cloud services like OneDrive, Hosted Exchange, etc. I try to keep as much information as possible on cloud based services. If something happens to one of my PCs, tablets or phones, all I have to do is resync and all is back right with the world.

This got me to thinking about my own usage of technology. In the past I’d tote a laptop around with my to handle my mobile needs, then come back into the office to a larger laptop hooked up to twin 27 inch monitors to do paperwork, web design work, remote support sessions for clients, etc. With the rapid pace of technology improvements there’s really no such thing as “future proofing” your technology purchases any longer, but I’m a firm believer in getting the most hardware for the money. With the updates in mobile processors, most laptops are more than powerful enough for even the most demanding users. In my case, a ton of email, WordPress, some light photo editing, bleeding edge computing power is nice, but not mission critical.

 The wife and I were discussing swapping all of our hardware over to the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3s this year. This is in part due to a misguided attempt by yours truly to purchase her a new laptop late last year. It’s “just not her laptop” and I have to admit, it’s not one of my better purchases. Regardless off to the local big box store we go to pick up a replacement Bluetooth headset for myself (a whole other story). While we were there I had to take a look at the new crop of laptops. She settled on a new Surface Pro 3 with a docking station and keyboard cover. Going for continuity on the home front we decided that we would both get SP3s. As things worked out I was able to score a decent deal on one (she’s not ready to move quite yet).

I decided to go full Surface, replacing my “main” computer in the office and my “travel” laptop with the Surface Pro 3.  About the same time Microsoft released a new model equipped with a Core i7 processor, 8 gigs of memory but only a 128 gig drive, but at a lower price point. Due to lower cost, a “4 hour sale” at Best Buy, some reward points, price matching and some open box find I pulled the trigger on a new Surface, docking station, display adapter and keyboard cover.

 Setup was the same as any Windows 8.1 machine. I’m deep in the Microsoft ecosystem so once I entered my account information, it was pretty much just sit back and wait. The first thing I did was the upgrade to Windows 10. I’ve told my clients to wait on their own upgrades to “let geeks like me” find all the issues. The upgrade went with little to no issues. The only hitch I’ve ran into so far with Windows 10 is the HP OfficeJet 8610. The software just would not load properly. Installing it through the Windows printer utility has printing working fine, but the scan functionality isn’t 100%. I’m sure a software update is forthcoming.

 My second issue was my iTunes library. At 76 gig, which is by no means huge when it comes to iTunes library, it was still going to be a huge chunk of available storage space. More and more I’ve found myself moving my entertainment over to streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, etc. so not having on the road access to my iTunes library wasn’t a huge deal in my opinion. I offloaded the library to a two TB external drive plugged into the USB 3 port on the dock, and all is back right in my world.

 I’ve been running the Surface Pro 3 as my only system for a week so far. It travels VERY easily in my Thule backpack. In the office it sits in a well-designed docking station, hooked up to the twin 27 inch monitors, one powered from the docking station display adapter, the second hooked up through a display adapter plugged into the Surface Pro 3 itself. As a whole I’m pretty satisfied with the process of going completely mobile. Only time will tell if the limited hard drive space onboard will become an issue. With external drives, cloud storage, etc. I imagine it will be just fine