There has been a lot of hype about the Surface Pro and what it can do. The original thought behind it seemed to be to combine a tablet and laptop into a single device. This has been emphasized time again but as an educator this was not what was exciting.
Windows 8 showed the power of having the interaction of touch enabled screens to make the whole experience feel more natural. I have recently gone from using a surface pro 2 back to my hp laptop and still find myself touching the screen expected it to read my gestures. The power of touch and more importantly the ability to "ink" or write directly onto a screen is what is exciting. This opens a whole new world of interaction with the pc. Yes this technology has been around for a while but no-one was really progressing it. The Surface Pro 1 really set a new standard and challenged the others in the industry to raise their game. Unfortunately several years later and still there is not a single device that comes close to matching the natural way the Surface Pro handles "inking". I now see why Microsoft has had to come into the hardware market, the ability of the software was out pacing what the hardware could produce and it was limiting the fantastic advantages of things like onenote. Still I think that many have missed the point as to what the likes of a Surface Pro opens up for education. Dr. Grissom in his blog (link below) put it so very clearly, the Surface Pro is a game changer and the rest of the industry needs to see this as such.
So onto the Surface Pro 3, the latest iteration of the Surface Pro series. I was lucky enough to have a short play with one today and I must say I was impressed. The first thing that struck me was the lightness, it finally felt like a tablet, not a netbook pretending to be a tablet as the Pro 1 and 2 seemed to me. The writing, "inking", had risen yet another notch from the already impressive early versions. The size of the screen finally made me think that this might be a laptop replacement but I would really like to have it a while before I came to that conclusion as it would only really be a true replacement if I could type reports on it comfortably.
Again the debate as to whether or not it is a laptop replacement rears its head. Does it really have to? At the price point they are bringing it out at I guess it forces the issue. Still there is hope for the die hard laptop and additional tablet fans, the rumour of the new Surface 3 with pen support. I assume that this will be priced at something similar to the Surface 2, and be an alternative option for those not wishing to replace their laptop but still wanting to take advantage of the "inking" ability of the Surface.
I have said how excited I am to be using a Surface with "inking" and onenote and believe there is the potential for a real shift in how we as educators teach, but what really blows my mind is the thought of all the students having access to this technology and what that would mean. That is where this technology can really shine.
What a great time to be an educator!