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With my Office 365 migration almost complete, one of the final steps was to buy a tablet.  My requirements were fairly simple:

  • Screen 10″ plus
  • Works well with office
  • Can write on the screen with a pen.


I had some experience of how Office works on Android from my Galaxy Note 2, and it isn’t great just now.  Microsoft have a huge push to improve it this autumn, but that is still an unknown quantity.  Some of the limits I have encountered:

  • OneNote doesn’t allow you to use the pen to write notes – you can only type them
  • Word is less good than some of the other office programs I have on my phone – it failed to open the images in the first document I tried
  • Excel is great when it works, but if there is any function in a spreadsheet that it doesn’t understand, it lock the whole spreadsheet and won’t let you edit it.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10″ tablets are lovely, but ruled out by the fact that Office for Android just isn’t ready yet.


The next obvious choice is an iPad.  You will have gathered by now that I’m a PC guy through and through, but Office for iPad is supposed to be brilliant.  iPads start reasonably inexpensive, but with 10’s of Gb of documents I want to sync for offline access, I would need a high end model.  There are basically two reasons I didn’t go for as iPad:

  • I’m just not an Apple guy, and the learning curve, infrastructure etc is all different to the PC/Android ecosystems where I am at home
  • There is no pressure-sensitive pen support – you can use a pen substitute but I’m not sure it meets my needs

Microsoft Surface

It’s somewhat unloved by the media, but it’s perfect for me.  It’s not cheap, but I got a good deal on a Surface Pro 2 with 256Gb SSD from Tesco since the new model was just coming.  It runs the full version of Office so there is no limitation on what I can do on the move, and with the optional keyboard it is almost a laptop replacement for short trips.  The pen support is brilliant, you can plug in any PC peripheral without expensive adapters, and I already understand how Windows works!

It’s not what I thought I’d get when I started looking.  It’s certainly not as pretty or compact as an iPad or Galaxy, but as all are too big for a pocket (they need a small bag) it doesn’t really matter to me.

My Microsoft Surface just works.  Perfectly.  I love it.


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