Over the last few weeks I’ve been on the hunt for a companion device to solve some (seemingly) simple tasks I need to undertake – turns out this is a harder problem to solve than I anticipated.
I’m a Mac user – have been for quite a long time now and at the moment I’m using a 13″ MacBook Pro which is a beast of a machine and can pretty much do anything. But there’s a problem – even at 13″ my MBP fails the flight-test. As somebody who flies on average 8+ hours a week this is quite important.
The flight test for me is the following:
1) Can I use it during take off and landing
2) Can I use it comfortably during flight
3) If the person in front of me reclines, can I still use it
4) Do I have offline access to my files and can I edit those files in office
So the MacBook Pro gets a no, sometimes, no and yes – a fairly bad 1.5 out of 4.
The offline file sync is important for me as I use Dropbox for everything both personally and professionally so it’s critical that I have access to the majority of my files at all times.
So onto the contenders:
This one was easy to try as I currently own an aging iPad 4 – so I decided to give it a go and see if it might be worth exploring an upgrade to the iPad Air 2 or pro.
For the flight test it scored yes, yes, yes and no – 3 out of 4. Not bad but unfortunately, the one criteria the iPad fails on is arguably the most important – I cannot have all my files available offline and be able to edit them easily. To be quite honest, if the iPad were running OSX I wouldn’t have a problem! But the Dropbox app for iOS is just too limited requiring users to mark individual files as offline sync’d rather than folders.
The Surface Pro 3
So the unwritten criteria for this search is of course cost-based. I’m looking for a companion device – not a MBP replacement so spending over 600$ is just not going to happen. So when I walked into the Microsoft store and saw the surface pro 3 for 499 USD I was intrigued.
Let me cut this story short – yes, yes, yes and yes but it sucked! Too little power, too many bugs and not worth the money – so back it went.
The Surface Pro 4
Ok so I liked the hardware and feel of the surface so I decided to try the SP4 – it fit all the criteria as the SP3 did and in fact for a good few days I started to feel like my search had come to an end – but it was not to be. Why you ask?
Two things really – first was cost – I had broken the 600$ barrier to the tune of 899 plus tax and the keyboard which brought me to the 1k mark and secondly – the bugs! Dear god the bugs!
The SP4 is a beautiful device – well built hardware that feels great, a very nice stylus as well as a very easy to type-on keyboard. But hardware is only as good as the software running on it and Windows 10 pro just doesn’t stand up. Between hibernation issues, zooming issues while using one-note and just plain unresponsiveness at times I found myself wondering if I could put Linux on it.
For that much money it needed to be awesome – it was not – so it too has gone back.
So that leads me to where I am now – no companion device bar my iPhone 6s+ on which I am writing this blog.
Suggestions are most gratefully received but for now – the search for my next companion device – continues!