On Friday, I had the chance to check out the grand opening of the Pittsburgh Microsoft Pop-up store, as well as the unveiling of the new tablet Surface. It was a big day for Microsoft. Here’s more on my experience:
Microsoft opened 32 holiday pop-up brick-and-mortar stores across the country this week. One city on the list was Pittsburgh. The store is located at Ross Park Mall in the entrance between the Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen. The store is basically a large kiosk. I found it really accessible and less intimidating than an Apple Store or a Best Buy. The employees of the store were super helpful and gave me a great demonstration of the Surface. They’ll be there from now until after the holidays, about January. According to Microsoft, “the holiday stores will feature a “curated selection of the best Microsoft products.” To keep up on Twitter, follow along at @MicrosoftStore.
- Starting price: $499
- Available in 32GB and 64GB models
- 1.5 pounds
- 1,366 x 768-pixel display
- 8 hours of battery life
- Pre-loaded with Windows RT, Microsoft Office 2013 RT2, Xbox apps, and other essentials
Disclaimer: I have an iPad. There are other tablets out there, obviously, but here’s what I observed the Surface has that the iPad doesn’t:
- Keyboard options: Yes, the iPad has keyboard accessories, but this one has a keyboard and protective cover all in one. There is a type cover and touch cover option, allowing you to go from tablet to laptop easily. Plus it’s waterproof, which is always a good thing.
- The integrated “kickstand.” Stand up your Surface without a cover. Pretty cool.
- Ability to plug into external displays like projectors and HDTV.
- Pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2013 (this was a big differentiator for me. I personally don’t use my iPad for work. I use it for play. With the Surface having the external display and Office features already built-in, I’d be more inclined to do work on it (without having to pay extra for Office).
- “Tiles” are where your apps live. When you look at your home screen, a number of apps appear that are relevant to YOU, and in realtime. This can be your latest couple of emails, tweets, weather and tailored news headlines. It’s pretty cool that it’s all at-a-glance. Think of it as your RSS reader, “tabletified.”
- Multi-tasking: You can check your emails and see a website at the same time, something you can’t do on an iPad.
All in all, I was impressed with the Surface. It’s been three years in the making, so Microsoft did a nice job creating a tablet to do even more than its competitors. Downfall: Apple is hard to compete with. I have my iPad, iPhone and MacBook Air, so all my stuff is in the cloud and in my Apple ID. I personally don’t want to get a new device that won’t sync up with my other stuff, but then again, if the Surface has more to offer, it could be my next device. I suggest going to check out the pop-up shop and checking it out for yourself!