Mat Honan Says a Keyboard Is the Only Way to Beat Apple

Couple of interesting points in Mat Honan’s piece for Gizmodo:

There was a security guard at the Microsoft event who pointed at my Macbook Air and asked me “is is true that once you go Mac you never go back?” Like most every other journalist at the Surface launch, I was on a MacBook Air.

The idea that a majority of journalists at a Microsoft press event would be using MacBooks would have been laughable just a few years ago. Surface is more than a response to the iPad — it’s a response to the MacBook Air too. Hence the dual ARM/Intel models.

At the Surface release, I saw an impressive demo, but didn’t get a good hands-on. My guess is that my total in-my-mitts time with the various tablets was somewhere between one-to-two minutes (which, in fairness to Microsoft was more than I got with the first iPhone or iPad when announced) and got no time at all using the keyboard — its killer feature.

Honan may not have gotten hands-on time with the iPhone or iPad at their debuts, but some did. There was no hands-on area after the iPhone introduction at Macworld Expo in January 2007. A very small handful of journalists (not including yours truly) got one-on-one briefings where they got to play with a prototype. See, for example, David Pogue’s report, where he says he “basically played with the iPhone the entire hour”. Very few people got time with the iPhone at its introduction, but nobody got an hour with the Surface this week.

And, with the original iPad, there’s simply no comparison. There was a hands-on area where all invited journalists were allowed to play with and examine the iPad — and its keyboard dock — for around an hour. I had 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with one.

The Surfaces that we got to examine that were turned on didn’t have SmartCovers attached, and the Surfaces with SmartCovers weren’t booted up. Microsoft was covering something, alright.

Surface may be good, may be bad, may be mediocre. Same goes for its intriguing keyboard covers. But at this point there’s simply no use passing judgment. We just don’t know. It isn’t ready yet.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012