The USS Quad Damage

Surface Pro is Post PC

I talk about how the surface pro is the true incarnation of "post PC" compared to, say, the iPad.

Talking about a computer is like talking about an engine. By itself it does nothing. There’s an old joke where someone is playing with a computer and his partner asks “What does it do?”; “It... err... computes”. I dislike the concept of “Post PC”, and much prefer Anandtech’s view of “Good enough computing”. It takes certain tasks that some people used to do with powerful PCs and converts them into tasks that people can do with less powerful phones and tablets.

Things like email. This is why there’s been the derisive rise of the idea that you need a real PC to do real work. Many managers have been able to supplant PCs because they used them purely for communications. However, I think the main shift has been that many people who used to use nothing (perhaps pen and paper) can now use a tablet or phone to do their “computing” tasks.

However, past a certain amount of complexity, you need a certain amount of computing power, there’s no getting around that. Whether it is gaming, or complex calculations, or handling large amounts of data, at a certain point a tablet alone won’t cut it. To some extent, the computation could be in a server farm somewhere, but it would be naive to suggest there are no use cases where a powerful machine wouldn’t improve the user experience.

If you’re a developer in today’s workflow, you need a powerful machine. Sometimes this machine will simulate a complex environment with many servers doing many calculations. You need this for yourself so you can test behaviour adequately, and be confident that your code is working as expected. In this scenario, an iPad is insufficient. However, the more I think about it, the more I start to think of the Surface Pro as the ideal tool.

Today, many developers will swear by their kilowatt Desktop PCs. However, many more are shifting to increasingly powerful laptops like the Macbook Pro. However, the portability is a compromise: The keyboard sucks, the touchpad sucks, and the form factor is inflexible for actually carrying around when it’s on. I’m not Mac-bashing here, I mean any laptop has this problem. Likely, you’ll dock your MBP and have it connected to a second screen, a keyboard, and a mouse.

However, what you really want is just the screen.

When you are at your desk, you have a high quality mechanical keyboard, and an ergonomic mouse. You plug your Surface Pro in and it has a full HD screen and can drive a second screen. When you need to go to a meeting or move desks, you take your surface and can jot down notes with the wacom pen and do minor typing with the on-screen keyboard. A workplace usually has desks so carrying it around is not a big deal.

You can also temporarily “move desks” fairly easily by taking your keyboard along. It’s only marginally more annoying than a laptop and you get a full machine — you won’t have a mouse but you have a touchscreen, and you won’t have a second screen but you screen have a full-HD display. This is a full laptop without all the useless stuff like a keyboard, but instead you get some useful tablet functionality. Unlike the iPad, the Surface Pro actually obviates the need for your laptop or desktop.

And that’s truly Post PC!