Surface Pros (and Cons!)

Posted by Kaylene Giff and Deb Cashion on 27 April 2021

In our post of the 19th March, we raised the point that many businesses are moving toward a more mobile hardware solution by adding laptops and tablets to their fleet.  Recently, we decided to investigate one of these mobile solutions in more details.

The Surface Pro has been around since 2012, with esteemed clients like United States Defence (approved and certificated on their products list) and has been the official tablet device for the National Football League in the US. 

With this great provenance, we decided to get some feedback from some local active Pro users. We asked them some standard questions regarding the Surface Pro and these are their anonymous - responses.

 

What we asked them

The Masked Surface Pro User       

The Surface Pro Ghost          

How long have you been using a Surface Pro? About a month, now. Seven years, but I've had the current one for four years.
Why did you choose a Surface Pro over other devices? I needed a new portable device and I have had a clunky, heavy laptop with a large battery previously and I wanted something more portable with a long battery life. The Surface Pro is brilliant for my situation. I spend about 60% of my time in an office and 40% out and about. The Surface Pro is as good as a PC or lap top in the office, more agile and easier to carry around and equally as good as a PC or lap top in any mobile scenario.
What do you like about the Surface Pro? I love the portability - being able to easily disconnect it from the dock and take it home. It's light and compact, yet has the same speeds, power and capacity as any desktop or lap top. It also doubles as a tablet.
What accessories do you use with the Surface Pro? Lots! Surface Dock 2 (for use in the office connecting network, external keyboard, mouse and monitor), a USB-C Travel Hub (to connect to network and external monitor away from my desk), the Surface Arc Mouse (Nothing like snapping a mouse flat to turn off and then stow in my bag) and the Surface Pen (It feels great to pick up the Surface and sign documents with ease). I use it with a full screen in the office and a full size key-board.
Are those accessories useful and user friendly? Very user friendly, wireless devices connect with ease. Also, easy to fit required accessories in a small sleeve with the Surface Pro rather than carrying around a large laptop bag. Yes.
Is the Surface Pro easy to use? Ease of use is the same as any other Windows laptop. I find it just as easy as any PC, desk top or lap top.
How do you find the speed and usability of the Surface Pro in comparison to other devices (like laptops or workstations)? Speed for everyday tasks is perfect, although there were resource issues in connecting an external business grade webcam. I don't find it different than any laptop or Desktop I have ever used.
That's a lot of Pros for the Surface Pro what Con can you think of? Being a smaller device there are only two USB ports (1 x C, 1 x A) so when using portably you may need to rely on USB-C converters/hubs. Nothing I can think of.
So, you'd recommend the Surface Pro to other people or businesses? Yes, I would recommend using a Surface Pro especially if portability is required. If you need to move around (even a bit) then yes, I highly recommend it.
Do you think the Surface Pro is great value for money? Like any other name brand devices *cough* Apple *cough* you pay an excess for the brand on top of the function, but with the ease connecting the official accessories and their use I am glad to have spent a little extra. Very much so.
That's great is there anything else you'd like to add? Nothing I can think of. My Surface Pro connects to all the cloud-based apps (drop box, One drive, Google drive etc etc) and office based apps (printer, scanner, etc etc). I can connect to my entire suite of apps basically anywhere I have WIFI or mobile data.

 

From talking to The Masked Surface Pro User and The Surface Pro Ghost, we found that whether they are new to Surface Pro or had been using them for more than seven years, their user overall satisfaction level was very high. The consensus was that the transition from working on a larger device is seamless - as the Surface Pro can handle all your Microsoft Office programs just like the big desktop machines and also offers complete connectivity with the cloud, allowing uploading and downloading with ease.

Our mysterious interviewees also liked the fact that the Surface Pro can be paired with a wide range of accessories to make things even easier. With the use of a Surface Hub, you can connect to your monitor and full-size keyboard for that traditional set up, where the Typecover allows for ease of use when out and about. The pen also gets a great wrap for making it easy to sign a document or when using your Surface Pro as a tablet, in fact, the Surface Pro and the Surface Pro pen been proven to be able a great tool for use with standard applications, as well as animation programs.  The Surface Pro is used by animators and cartoonists around the world, including DC Comics artist Francis Manapul, who has drawn, and in some cases written or co-written, major comics for DC, including Legion of Super Heroes, Flash and Detective Comics!

...With the use of a Surface Hub, you can connect to your monitor and full-size keyboard...

It seems that the Surface Pro is not only extremely versatile in the workplace but it's easy to transition to personal use. It's easy to plug in at the office but it is so small and lightweight that you can easily pick it up, drop it in your bag and in seconds you are out the door. Forget to send that email when you were in the office?  Fire off that email while sitting on the lounge in your pyjamas, in seconds. Due to the Surface's sleep mode, you don't even have to wait for the device to boot, it is ready any time. Don't want to be chained to the desk in the office? Take the Surface Pro outside and sit in the sun while completing that spreadsheet. Take the Surface Pro to the coffee shop and continue working on the sales figures without having to lug around a large laptop bag and cables. With an inbuilt kickstand for the screen, the footprint of the device in "laptop mode" is small enough to fit on even the smallest of coffee tables at Gloria Jeans. Nothing beats being able to work and have a coffee!  With the inbuilt Wi-Fi, camera and microphone, attend the marketing meetings from the beach!  We live on the Central Coast, why not enjoy it while still being as productive as you would be if you were in your office?

...Loyal IT are offering a great deal on a Surface Pro bundle - The "Freedom" Package...

If you want more proof, read the reviews here's an example - you'll see Surface Pro constantly rated between 4 and 4.5 stars out of 5 for each generation!  All this is all great news for customers of Loyal IT Solutions, who as an official Microsoft Reseller, have secured some great access and information on Surface Pros and other Microsoft products. Contact Loyal IT Solutions on 02 4337 0700 or email Kaylene to enquire today!  Find out why the Surface Pro is a winner and take advantage of our great Bundle offer!

Posted in: Computer hardware IT  

Working with hardware that suits your work lifestyle

Posted by Kaylene Giff on 19 March 2021

For as long as we can remember, the norm for a businessperson has been working at your desk, in an office, 5 days a week, except for a small portion of us who work from home or travel around.

 

We now find ourselves in "the new normal", where full featured portability is what everyone wants; that is to be able to perform work from anywhere at any time. Not only do you need to be able to work on documents, attend Zoom meetings and respond to email from your desk at the office but you also need to work from your desk at home, while out and about or even while you are sitting in front of the TV in the evening.

 

Doing business in the 20's is much different than it was 10 years ago. With such a wide variety of devices available, it is easier than ever to save a document on your workstation then view that same document on your laptop while sitting with a client, but even that can be a pain when you are relying on the computers syncing together.  Now you have the ability to take your computer with you, wherever you need to work from.


With a portable device such as a laptop or tablet, you are able to work and access your server or cloud files from anywhere, anytime; then plug in to your screens, keyboard and mouse at the office to effortlessly continue working from your desk.

 

No matter your requirements, Loyal I.T can provide a solution that suits your needs.

 

The "Go-Getter" Package

- Lenovo ThinkCentre SFF
- Lenovo ThinkVision 24" Monitor x 2
- Windows 10 Pro

CONTACT LOYAL I.T. SOLUTIONS FOR THE LATEST PRICES

 

Features

Most powerful
Best performance for the dollar
Cloud compatible
Multiple screen compatibility

 


 

The "Agility" Package

- HP ProBook
- HP Docking Station
- Lenovo ThinkVision 24" Monitor x 2
- Microsoft Wireless Keyboard & Mouse
- Windows 10 Pro

CONTACT LOYAL I.T. SOLUTIONS FOR THE LATEST PRICES

 

Features

Great performance
Portable
Multiple screen compatibility
Webcam as standard
WiFi standard

 


 

The "Freedom" Package

- Surface Pro Tablet
- Surface Pro Typecover
- Surface Docking Station
- Lenovo ThinkVision 24" Monitor x 2
- Wireless Keyboard
- Wireless Mouse
- Surface Pen
- Windows 10 Pro

CONTACT LOYAL I.T. SOLUTIONS FOR THE LATEST PRICES

 

Features

Most portable
Can be used as a desktop
Multiple screen compatibility
Can be used as a tablet
Webcam as standard
WiFi as standard (4G optional)

 

*Does not include software, higher spec hardware or configuration and installation

 

 

For the best solution for your business, contact Loyal I.T. to discuss your specific requirements.

 

Posted in: Computer hardware IT Computer deductions  

Windows 10 crashing when printing due to March update

Posted by Michael Trimblett on 12 March 2021

Microsoft have done it again!

The March Windows Security Update released on March 9th is causing a "Blue Screen Of Death" when printing.  Some of the printer brands known to be affected, include Kyocera, Ricoh, Zebra and Dymo.  Clients of Loyal I.T. who are on a Managed Services Support Agreement (MSSA) will not be affected by this issue because we have blocked the roll out of this update before it can be deployed.  For more information about Loyal I.T.'s MSSA, please contact our office on 02 4337 0700.

For those not on Loyal I.T.'s MSSA, the Windows updates that are the cause of the issue are KB5000802 and KB5000808.  The only known fix at this point is to uninstall the update.  Due to Microsoft's patching policy, Windows will not allow you to decline an update, all you can do is delay it.  On Windows 10, if you go into Windows Update you can press the button to pause updates for 7 days:

You will then need to pause again next week and the week after because Microsoft are saying a fix will not be available until the April update (due for release on Tuesday April 6th).  We are hoping a release prior will fix the problem but there are no promises.

If you have the Blue Screen Of Death problem when printing, you will need to uninstall the update by going to the Installed Updates area in Windows 10, selecting the update KB5000802 and/or KB5000808 and press on Uninstall.

After restarting the computer, you will no longer be affected by this problem.

If you are unable to perform this task, Loyal I.T.'s friendly helpdesk will be more than happy to assist.  Give us a call on 02 4337 0700 and one of our techs will be able to perform the uninstall.

Posted in: Windows Computer Software Urgent Windows Update  

Get the most out of your I.T. infrastructure without a physical server

Posted by Kaylene Giff on 9 February 2021

If your business operates from the cloud, you will likely not have a server on premises.  This means your laptop, PC's, tablets and/or personal devices become the front-line interface to the internet and core business applications. 

 

To ensure optimal productivity and security, it is recommended businesses adapt a 'fleet management' regime, including:

  • Managing the age of hardware by replacing devices based on a planned lifecycle
  • Implement a managed services system capable of monitoring all devices remotely
  • Scheduled maintenance of devices
  • Personal data (desktop, documents, downloads etc) is synchronised/backed up to the cloud
  • Regularly updated antivirus
  • Regular cybersecurity check-ups

Such a 'fleet management' regime should be adapted because PC's and other devices become more vulnerable and less efficient with age (3 years maximum is recommended) meaning your business becomes more susceptible to downtime or lower productivity due to:

  • Hardware failure
  • Slower machines or reduced processer capacity
  • Higher exposure to cybersecurity incidents

 

Because your devices are now the only defence between your data and hackers obtaining unauthorised access, it is even more important to keep your hardware updated and protected.

 

A significant point to note is that all recent PC's and laptops have a Solid State Drive (SSD); there are great advantages including faster and more efficient processing and less chance of corruption. However, there is little warning that a SSD will fail or arrive at it's end of life and it is common that data will be corrupted or lost completely if a SSD reaches capacity or fails.

 

While on the subject of hardware, there are growing preferences for tablets, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro. Modern tablets offer the same specifications and capabilities as a larger workstation yet is compact and able to be taken anywhere the user goes. It is also just as easy to connect it in to a docking station and interact as you would normally at a desk computer.

 

Contact us to discuss your requirements for protecting your business from downtime or if you would like to learn more about our Surface Pro bundles.

Posted in: Computer hardware Security Computer Software  

Vulnerability Scans - Isolate the weak security points in your IT systems

Posted by Michael Trimblett on 18 January 2021

A Vulnerability Scan is a relatively simple way to test your IT systems risk to scams, theft or sabotage. It's an application that, when applied correctly and with the right advice, is an extremely efficient and effective strategy for SMB's.

With the cloud becoming the norm, your user-interface and other systems and devices become your frontline cyber-security guards by default. Therefore, it is now more imperative than ever to ensure you are 'sure and secure'.

A Vulnerability Scanner is an application that can:

  • Identify and create an inventory of all your systems (including desktops, laptops, tablets, servers if you still have one, virtual devices, personal devices, firewalls, switches, wi-fi and printers) connected to a network.
  • Identify all operating systems and the software installed, along with other attributes such as open ports and user accounts.
  • Attempt to log in to systems using default, standard issue or common credentials.
  • Check each item in the inventory against selected databases of known vulnerabilities

Apart from having an effective inventory of items in your IT systems, the outcome from the scan is a calculated risk list of vulnerabilities for each and every part of your system.

With the right advice and consultation from a knowledgeable source like Loyal IT, you can then prioritise which vulnerabilities need to be explored and how they should be mitigated.

As a point of interest for small to medium sized businesses that no longer have a server (and utilise 'the cloud'), one of the most effective risk mitigation strategies is to have an effective hardware management regime, a little bit like a vehicle fleet management regime; but more about this in our next blog.

Posted in: Services Security IT IT Consulting Networking Security Computer Software  
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Surface Pros (and Cons!)

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