a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Touch Laptops


I have an ultrabook I like, but the more I used the Surface, the more obsolete it seemed, because I couldn’t touch anything on the screen.

Ah, welcome to the hell that the early converters to touchscreen convertibles and laptops have dealt with for the last 5-10 years. People sneered…“no, it can’t be better! Remember those pens? BLECH!” But we knew. Oh, we knew.

Now the rest of the world will, too.


I have been using the Samsung Series 7 Slate for the past five months. Yes, the battery life is not as good as the RT and probably won’t be as good as the PRO. But I have to say, I never want to buy another laptop again.

I think I truly fell in love with it when I was in a conference room with it hooked up to the projector using a MicroHDMI cable and drawing diagrams with the Wacom pen. Love this thing.

As far as the greasy finger effect and the password that someone mentioned before, that assumes that you are using it only to log in. Play a Facebook game or Taptiles on it for five minutes and then get back to me.


Actually, the diagonal of a standard letter page is 13.9", which makes it bigger than even the Yoga’s screen.

I was about to say the same thing, but if you include the iPad’s vertical margins of precisely 7/8" and horizontal margins of precisely 3/4", the screen diagonal of a letter page tablet is ~11.61".


Derivation (apologies for the spam):

((8.5 - (7.31 - 9.7 * .6))**2 + (11 - (9.50 - 9.7 * .8))2).5

Source of iPad numbers:


@Ted T - I think this review was more on the hardware is my guess, and less on the software (Windows). Your assessment seems to correspond to the reviews I’ve seen elsewhere, especially the slowness.


I will never forgive Microsoft for the ridiculous amount of time the “delete file” feature in the XP/Vista UI took. Go to console, erase file - fast. In UI, sloooow. C’mon, are they doing an unindexed search of the filesystem to create an inode table or what, maybe using a bubble sort, and doing some miscellaneous laundry? Apple got this right, the UI is fast on the iOS. Forget the details, but I think they just spawn a thread task, and return immediately to the UI. Whatever the technique, it’s fast.


But Nielsen, rather influential guy in the UI area, has some a more detailed review of Windows 8 Surface RT (or whatever it is) and my conclusion is that this is a typical Microsoft 1.0 rollout. They’ll eventually get this right, but we are far from the days where MSFT owned the platform, so they don’t enjoy the luxury of the necessary time to get it right. Here’s the review:


Summary: Hidden features, reduced discoverability, cognitive overhead from dual environments, and reduced power from a single-window UI and low information density. Too bad.


I’m very surprised no one commented on the resolution on the Surface RT. I bought one and returned in the next day. My phone resolution on the Galaxy Note 1 was better than this expensive tablet. The Galaxy Note 1 registered at 285 ppi, while the surface rt has a ppi of 148. For any power user the difference is immediately noticeable when browsing.

Note (no pun intended), I have no Ipad, or anything with a retina display. however comparing a Lumia 920 to the surface showed the marked difference. comparing my Galaxy Note 1 was still night and day. For an expensive item that you’ll be browsing constantly with, the noticeable pixelation was just too much for me to enjoy long term.

I returned and bought a Nexus 10.


@Robert Sullivan: I would not give much credence to Nielsen’s conclusions. He was negative on the Kindle Fire:


And on the iPad:


And have you actually browsed his site useit.com? shudder

Lastly, I hope I don’t come accross as confrontational by asking this, but have you used Windows 8 or RT yourself? It’s fine if after giving yourself a fair chance to get used to the new interface that you still don’t like it, but at least you didn’t rely on others’ (often agenda driven) comments to make your tech purchase decisions for you.


The one thing I totally disagree with is 13" is too large. I have a couple of tablets and the major fault is being too small! I run 2x 24" HD screens on the desktop, and even my laptop is a 17" hd screen.
The only requirement for larger useable screens is resolution needs to match. Running a 13" low res screen is pointless with low resolution, resolution should be at least 1920 x 1080 on a 13" or larger device.
I’ve also looked at the ipad and think having high resolution on a tiny 10" screen is equally a waste of power and resources.
I’m waiting for a full x86 laptop with touch screen in minimum 15" min 1920x1080 form and hopefully a foldback display, full keyboard etc to make a large useable touchscreen laptop / tablet device. (A 15" surface pro type device would be nice.)


Reason #2 makes my head hurt. The Surface touchpad is smaller than the Yoga because the screen is smaller. What should Lenovo do? Not cover the screen when it’s closed?


The Surface looks too cool for me not to get one.


Jeff did you happen to use one of the Asus Transformers? (of the Android kind).
If you did it would be interesting to hear your take on the Transformer vs. the Surface as both are similar conceptually.


Author should be ashamed of saying this: “Does the prospect of using Windows 8 frighten and disturb you? No worries, smash Windows+D on your keyboard immediately after booting and pretend you’re using Windows 7.5. Done and done.”

Everybody knows the old windows style can not be fully experienced without a FREAKING START MENU! If it only had the old start menu i would totally agree with the author. But no, it does not have, so no, you can’t experience “Windows 7.5” because it is incomplete.


I tried out a Surface at the Microsoft Store in the Park Meadows mall, south of Denver. It was okay. Didn’t seem slow to me, but it didn’t do the things I want to do with it.

I’m going to check out the Surface Pro. One thing I really want with it is some kind of TypeCover that uses bluetooth so I can set the thing in portrait mode and use it that way. I also plan to dual-boot it with Fedora or Ubuntu Linux.

The Samsung machines are awfully tempting too.


That’s Zed, by the way, not Zardoz.