Microsoft Surface Pro... As a Primary Workstation
September 2, 2013
By Scott Lewis
Last month I wrote about Windows 8.1,
and the minor improvements Microsoft had done. Eventually I will have to
upgrade my main computer. I have been a desktop tradionalist for...
I prefer a desktop with serious power, and easily upgradable components. However, that is getting less and less important. I have been doing less and less gaming on my desktop. In fact, I have not even played the last game I bought. It is still sitting in a pile waiting for me to install it.
It is becoming apparent that I may not need a desktop. I use the same basic software most of the time. Is it time to "give in" and go with a laptop for my next computer? If so I want an Ultrabook. A very sleek, light weight, diskless laptop that weighs under 3 pounds, and has at least a 1440x900 display.
If you will recall, I have written that Microsoft's Surface is the Ultrabook for me.
The question is then... can the Surface be my primary computer?
To be my primary computer, obviously I would need a real keyboard and mouse and an external monitor that I would dock with the Surface Pro while on my desk. The Surface Pro has a 1920 x 1080 resolution display... and supports up to 2,560 x 1,440 resolution on an external display. This is a minor dilemma. My monitor is a 30" Dell with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600. Maybe I could sell it and get a Dell 27" monitor, that happens to have a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution.
Next up is storage. In last month's article I mentioned I want a Surface Pro with 256 GB of storage. They still only make them with 64 & 128 GB. So we have to wait until 256 SSD drives are more affordable and incorporated into the Surface Pro.
Regardless, 256 GB is still not enough for a desktop replacement. So I will also need to have one dedicated external hard drive for use with a Surface Pro.
I will need a powered USB 3.0 hub. This will provide power to the keyboard, mouse and external hard drive (we would get a USB powered external hard drive, so it could be used by itself with the Surface when I travel). The idea here is that when I get to my desk I plug the Surface Pro into the USB Hub and the monitor and we are ready to work (or play) as necessary.
Storage... I would use an external hard drive for things like my entire photo library (as I do now with my current desktop). But what about iTunes? I have video podcasts that take up significant space. I can point iTunes to save its files to an external drive... but what happens if I run iTunes when away from that drive. Will it forget everything and require me to reconfigure it every time I return? Or will it just realize that the files are "temporarily" not available and just be nice and work again when I get back to my desk and plug in the drive. Or do I have to make a conscientious effort to never run iTunes when disconnected from the external drive.
Before making such a drastic change to my computing environment, I will need to assess what I really need a computer for. Currently here is what I do everyday with my desktop.
Here is a list of what I do every week:
Here is what I do at least some of a every month:
As I see it... there is nothing stopping me from letting my next desktop be a Microsoft Surface Pro. I clearly have some space issues above... and I would hold out for a Surface Pro equipped with 256 GB of internal storage. That should handle everything except my iTunes podcasts and my photos, all of which should be easy to keep on an external hard drive for when I need them. Just as long and iTunes plays nice when I do not have the external drive with me.