I went to the mall Sunday night – a Surface Story

*** if you want to skip this part, go ahead ***

I got the original AT&T iPad and have been paying for unlimited data ever since. Afraid to trust the “move service from another iPad” option I’ve instead been moving that SIM from my original iPad to my iPad 2 and 3rd generation iPad. Everything’s been working fine, but the credit card I had used expired this month, so I went in to update it and was greeted with a nice friendly “whoa Buddy, this isn’t an LTE SIM Card, you gotta go get a new one before I let you see anything” (non contractual accounts don’t have a web interface so you can only update it on iPads).

While AT&T was able to help me free of charge, I did have to wait in a queue (not a literal line thank god) probably due to it being Sunday evening. While I was waiting in line I checked out the Lumia and other Windows phones. They’re huge. Really huge. I couldn’t get over how much front-to-back there was on the Lumia.

Anyway, the girls were off buying $100 of a perfume it turns out I like so I went to the Apple store to fondle the iPad mini and new iPods (I haven’t been in a store since their announcement, either). The new Nano, which is annoying similar to the Lumia in design, is really tiny. Apple’s hero shots make it look gigantic.

I then took an empty spot at the iPad mini table…

As soon as I picked it up I immediately thought damn, Frommer, Gruber, Marco… they’re all right. There’s nothing “mini” about it. It’s really a perfect size and weight. My Incase Sling Sleeve for 11″ MacBook Air holding only my 1.46 pound iPad 3 suddenly weighed a ton on my shoulder. I can’t wait for mine to come.

*** Surface story starts here ***

Despite stories of people getting immediately hassled, I was able to use a pink one for two whole minutes. One notable difference from the Apple store is that no part of the device is actually tethered to the table. When I yanked off the cover and power cord to look the device over I might have triggered the arrival of John (or maybe it would’ve happened soon anyway since generally people have been saying they’re immediately helped).

The only think I can fault John for is having a script in back of his mind. I knew he understood the product well but you could pick out the company indoctrinated nonsense (he said 22 Degrees a few times). I told him I might not use it personally, didn’t mention any of my Apple products, and said we had a lot of Windows 7 tablets we didn’t like at work because they weren’t as elegant as iPhones and Androids (I intentionally didn’t mention iPads).

He followed his “script”, showing me the Type Cover (which is a very good keyboard I might add), let me open Word to try it, showed me Metro’s multitasking, and used the correct word for the “Charms” on the right hand swipe gesture. I can’t remember if either of us said “Metro” at any point. I wasn’t going to blow my cover and call it Windows Redacted Style.

I said our electronic health records either need a Citrix client or x86 support (and, apparently I’d need a Pro to join Windows domains) so we started talking about the upcoming Surface Pro. He went back into script mode for a second and said that the Intel 4000HD on the upcoming Surface Pro was comparable to a low end ATI or NVidia card. I had to correct him by adding “of two or three years ago”. I feel like that disarmed his corporate speak, identified me as a nerd, and from then on we could talk like nerds.

He agreed not having the Pro until potentially after the Holidays was a puzzling choice from Microsoft, but offered to show me a Samsung with an Atom processor in it. And boy, when Samsung doesn’t have an Apple product to copy, they can make some bad stuff. This thing was 13″, same 1366×768 resolution (so really blurry), and although it was very light, it was bulky and plastic-y. I correctly pronounced “the Vapor Mag feels a lot better than this”.

Since I had it undocked, getting the screen resolution from the Windows desktop by “right” (hold) clicking took me two tries to hit the tiny touch target. He said something about the keyboard shortcut which was obviously not helpful since it was undocked (I supposed it would be if I failed 3 or 4 times). Just another point of these-things-actually-require-their-keyboards.

He offered to pull up an RT vs Pro Fact Sheet from Microsoft. He put it back in the keyboard to perform the Bing (which worked btw). “Oh yeah, an i5 should be much better than this Atom” I said. He agreed. At this point, I noticed the girls had found me and were waiting outside the store (I had ignored a few calls during this) so I decided to wrap it up. I told him he’d been very helpful and I can’t wait to see the Pro, whenever it arrives. He said that most customers leave with the same conclusion.