Last June, a mysterious event invite came out of Microsoft’s Washington HQ. Unlike pretty much every other tech launch in the last two years, we hadn’t seen any major leaks beforehand, although rumours of the launch being for a tablet with Windows 8 (or, according to Mat Honan, a #MSFTaaaaaablet). What the company ultimately unveiled was the Surface, its first piece of Windows-based hardware, in both RT and Pro flavours, the latter of which still hasn’t made it to the UK. In a brave experiment, I have spent the last couple of months using the RT model as my primary computer, and it’s definitely been turning heads. Has this been for good reasons, though? Read on to find out. Continue reading →
The Surface Pro, the big brother to Microsoft’s Surface RT which was released in October last year, won’t go on sale in January as originally planned, but you will be able to have one in your hands by February 9th. On the bright side, Microsoft do seem to have admitted defeat with their Surface RT retail strategy, which was so bad that it was nominated for our biggest failure award – the Seattle-based company says that the Surface Pro will have wide retail availability beyond just Microsoft.com and Microsoft Stores.
We knew that Microsoft were targeting the high-end market with the Surface Pro, but even so the prices they’ve announced do seem extortionate. The minimum you’ll find yourself paying for one is $899, for the 64GB version with no covers included. The 128GB model will add $100 on to that price. The Surface RT 32GB tablet, the cheapest member of the Surface family you’ll find, would set you back $499, so there is obviously a significant difference between the RT and the Pro. Like with the its little brother, if you want to buy a keyboard cover for your Surface Pro it will cost $119 for the Touch Cover or $129 for the Type one. Microsoft will throw in a free pressure-sensitive pen in the box too.
On the same date as the Surface Pro is released, Microsoft have announced that a standalone 64GB will be made available for $599 – previously you could only buy it as a package with the black Touch Cover for $699.
It’s nice to finally get some genuine information on the Surface Pro, but we really feel that the large price tag will put a lot of potential consumers off buying one. Mind you, Microsoft do seem to be aiming here to make something which will completely replace your laptop or desktop PC, whereas previous tablets have only really been able to be used in conjunction with another device, to do all the ‘serious’ stuff on. The Surface Pro will certainly be an interesting one to watch, but personally we can’t see it taking off.
Want to try out Windows 8 on a tablet but you’ve only got an iPad? Splashtop could have the answer with its new Metro Testbed app, which gives users the chance to use the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a simple iPad app.
Splashtop Metro Testbed, iPad, £17.49
Download from the App Store or visit the website
This week’s app of the week for Windows Phone is Rowi, a Twitter app by Hidden Pineapple.
Many people would just say that you don’t need a Twitter app on a Windows Phone as it is already built into the OS. I personally love the Twitter integration that was added with Windows Phone 7.5 but, for some things such as actually reading my feed, it is not that great. So, after a while of struggling to keep up to date with all of the people that I legally stalk, I decided to download an app to use instead.
I started off with the official Twitter app for Windows Phone, which was horrendously bad, before going on to Birdsong which was better but still not that great. Eventually I came across Rowi, and everything changed. This little app is great, being incredibly simple to use and designed with a perfect Metro theme. When you open the app, your feed is the first thing you see and, with one swipe of the screen, you can see both your mentions and direct messages. You can even set it so that your notifications such as mentions and messages appear on a live tile. I think that the single most annoying thing about the Twitter website is that you have to manually update tweets, but Rowi auto-updates and, although new posts will appear while you are reading, the app leaves you where you are and just stacks the tweet on top of all the previously read ones. Now when you are reading what @JustinBieber was doing a week ago and a new tweet comes through, you don’t have to scroll all the way back down to where you were before.
Rowi, Windows Phone 7, £2.29
Download from the Marketplace or visit the website
Follow me on Twitter @huntho21 for random babble and cool stuff!
For our first Android app of the week, I have chosen Launcher 7 by Timo Kujala.
This app is a perfect cure for those of us that have #droidrage and crave a Windows Phone. It replaces whatever launcher you have, in my case HTC Sense 1.0 for Android, with a smooth interface that looks just like that of Windows Phone 7. While you don’t get the full OS, you do get a live tile for your contacts and some bitmap images to use as app icons such as a smiley face for the messaging app and the IE logo for the browser. The status bar takes on a WP7 look when you are on the home screen and widgets are supported by being embedded in tiles. Most noticeably for me, however, Launcher 7 is less processor intensive than HTC Sense and other OEM skins and the phone therefore runs much faster in everything and multitasking actually works. While I struggle by with an HTC Wildfire, I assume that a slight performance improvement will be noticed on almost any Android device, be it a phone or tablet.
If you have an Android phone, download the free version of this. (You have to put up with 1 ad in the app list but it’s not obstructive or distracting.) You WILL love the Metro UI and then you will almost certainly want to get a Windows Phone at the earliest opportunity.
Launcher 7, Android, Free or £1.28
Download from the Android Market
This weeks App Of The Week for Windows Phone 7 is MegaTile.
This app allows you to create custom tiles to pin to the Metro UI home screen of your Windows Phone. This tile can be customized to fill a number of different functions from linking to a specific web page to acting as a speed dial for a single contact. This app is made even better by the fact that you can use a picture from your photo album as the image on the tile. In addition, such images can spread over multiple tiles relating to a single topic.
This is a great app which is a must have for all WP7 users who yearn for that extra bit of customisation.
MegaTile, Windows Phone 7, £0.79
Download from the Marketplace or visit the website