Tuesday, December 04, 2012

tech tuesday: windows in town

cute - the new Windows Surface tablet with Touch Cover bluetooth keyboard

As you know from last week's blog post, the Wee Guy and I attended our very first promo event together to steal a peek at the new MS Surface tablet and the all the gadgetry that goes with the RT OS and Windows 8. On show were the new tablet with its ultra swish, low profile touch type keyboard, a Rogers smartphone (Samsung, I think) running the new OS, and an Asus tablet running Windows 8.

... as well as the fully loaded magic of an Xbox 360 with Kinect!

the Touch Cover - just right for little (sticky?) fingers
has Microsoft invented the ultimate washable spillage-proof keyboard?
Smartphone tech
Amir from Rogers kindly showed me the new kid-safety feature on Windows 8 phones - there`s a nifty side-swipe which controls kid access, allowing them to use a special screen set up with personalized apps suitable for their age group, but without allowing them to delete your faves or place that long distance call.  This could be a winner if you like to hand over your phone to the kiddo to keep them entertained. The Wee Guy, at nine-and-a-half-years-old, was horrified - I`m pretty sure he could hack this in the blink of an eye. He`s pretty trustworthy with the ipods, tablets and so on anyway, but I`m sure the target market is harassed parents with much younger kids. It`s a neat idea! ... but I`m sticking with my (unlocked) android cell and ancient Fido plan for now cos it`s cheaper. And I really like android :)

Meanwhile, at the Kinect ... slice chop slice

Tablet wizardry
As for the tablets - wow! I do love gadgets, and the Surface did not disappoint. I should add, the tablet did not disappoint. Compared to my beloved Nexus 7, it`s bigger and twice as heavy but has expansion slots (USB and mini SD), plus not one but two cameras. Cost-wise it`s heavier too, but if you`re in the market for a new tablet this Christmas I`d take a look.

Keyboard portability, oh my!
The Windows OS is very responsive and, now that I`m used to the flick of the finger (or stylus), very well set up for a touchscreen. I like the tiles idea, and fairly quickly found how to get in and out of the home screen. I wasn't so sure however, about the why? of the Touch Cover keyboard (why not just use the onscreen keyboard instead of thin touch-sensitive keys?) ... but I did like the Type Cover. It`s a bluetooth mechanical keyboard which snaps on to the tablet as a protective case when not folded out for typing. I liked the size of and the travel on the keys - I`m sure the keys would be roomy enough to rattle off 800 words for an assignment on-the-go without feeling cramped. This, and the wedge touch mouse (cute, functional, very portable, also bluetooth), would make brilliant additions to my portable writing life (especially since I'm becoming a fulltime student again in the new year ... !).

waving, not connecting
Ah yes - the Kinect.
Out of the two of us, the Wee Guy is the Xbox expert. Me? I'm intrigued with a machine which recognises I'm waving at it .. and that's all. Wee Guy - fully into it in nanoseconds. Meanwhile, I had a lovely chat with one rep about the (hacked) functionality researchers are finding for the Kinect sensor bar as the Wee Guy manically sliced fruit into shards.

The Microsoft rep (and I'm sorry, I didn't get your name) described how the sensor bar is being used during surgery, allowing surgeons to access computers without compromising the sterile operating field. Wow! totally exciting (way more so than screen-based childminding, or virtual fruit slicing, IMO) though I'm not sure what the official MS position on this semi-hacking is ...? Good, I hope.

Back at the Kinect Xbox arena however, the excitement was waning. One of the big problems with having the magic set up in a crowded room, and being a diminutive operative of said magic, is that bigger bodies (muuuuum!) wandering within range of the sensor bar compete unfairly with your fruit-slicing prowess. Full.on.tears.

As I said last week, exit stage left, pronto.

Side notes - Wee Guy and I attended a promotional event as guests of Microsoft when the company visited Vancouver. We ate the nibbles, drank the Koolaid juice, and played with the pretty shiny things ... the words here are my own views, opinions and observations. I am not an Apple fan; my main desktop will be upgraded to Windows 8 so I can play with it on my large touchscreen (fnarr!),  but our next desktop will be a Mac Mini (just sayin').

Product pic, from MS (thank you); images of Wee Guy in action, from me xoxo
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