Place clever “shallow surface” pun here.

Posted on June 19, 2012 by Gene

Wow. The hilarious sycophancy over Microsoft’s tablet retread is, well, hilarious. Let’s take a look at CNN’s astonishing journalism, shall we?

Details about the Surface are sketchy — no price or release date were announced, and info about apps is scant. But there are at least five features CEO Steve Ballmer and friends showed off Monday that might make the Surface better than the iPad.

Translation: CNN has few details other than a few marketing points, and hasn’t actually used one of these devices… or even touched one, probably. But here goes a review of it based on creating a straw man and knocking him down.

A frustration for many users of the iPad and other touchscreen devices is the keyboard. While it’s possible to get somewhat proficient at tapping spots on a flat screen, most acknowledge it’s impossible to get e-mail and other documents written as quickly as with physical keys.

Many users? Most acknowledge? This kind of writing wouldn’t even pass muster on Wikipedia. How many users? Give me some specifics here. ‘Cos I don’t believe you. I can write as fast on my iPad as on my regular keyboard.

Sure, there are third-party keyboards you can buy to add onto the iPad, but they can be clunky.

Okay, you mean that they would be clicky and clunky like a real physical keyboard? Make up your mind.

The Surface keyboard will be part of its Touch Cover, which is connected with magnets and flips open. There will be a version with pressure-sensitive flat keys and another with more traditional raised keys called a Type Cover.

Wait — you mean that you’ll have a choice between a flat keyboard (how is this different from typing on the iPad?) or a raised key keyboard (how is that different from the “clunky” reference above)? Wow. I can’t wait to write my novel on this tablet, which they claim you can “actually do some work on.”

Yup, that's better than typing on the screen. Reminds me of the Atari membrane keyboard from 1980.

Some folks see the inclusion of a keyboard as the Surface’s big selling point.

And those would be the same folks who thought Blackberry would win the smartphone wars.

..its display screen is 10.6 inches, almost a full inch bigger than the iPad’s. And the company says it’s optimized to have essentially the same dimensions as a movie screen: So, farewell black bars when watching video.

I can’t understand why everyone is so preoccupied with designing tablets and phones around video. Is it a media consumption device or something you “actually do some work on?” Make up your mind. Meanwhile, a widescreen aspect may be great for watching a movie, but working on it — especially when using Microsoft software — is an exercise in frustration. That’s because the height of the screen is so narrow while the width is so wide… and we read vertically. Add to that the menu bar, the window chrome, and the ridiculous height of Microsoft’s “ribbon” UI and you’re left with precious little space to actually read or work on a document. And lots of wasted space on the sides.
So tell me again how iPad’s 4×3 aspect ratio is bad? You can hold it vertically to read or write, and horizontally to watch videos. Simple.

Both versions of the Surface come with two USB ports (2.0 on the RT and a faster 3.0 on the Windows Pro). The lack of ports has been one of the few persistent compaints about the iPad.

Again, just who is making these persistent complaints? Why in the world would I want USB ports on my iPad? So I can plug in something and have it hanging off the thing while I am using it? So I can attach a little humping dog or a hub? To transfer files? I just don’t get the attachment to old tech with these people. It’s the 21st century. Stop carrying around USB sticks and hard drives.

These ports open up the possibility of extra storage, printing and other external capabilities that should be easier and quicker than the workarounds iPad users need involving cloud storage, Wi-Fi connections and the like.

I… I… I don’t know what to say here. CNN just called cloud storage and Wi-Fi “workarounds.” Ring! Ring! 2012 just called!

The Xbox SmartGlass feature … will connect a smartphone or tablet with the Xbox, which in turn will be connected with the television. By connecting the devices, users can watch a movie on their television while getting bonus material on their tablet. They could also start enjoying a game or movie on the tablet, then transfer it to a TV — or vice versa.

CNN is actually listing this as a feature that makes the Surface better than an iPad.

In every Internet article there is a pattern: one starts out reading and has a vague feeling in the back of the brain that says, “Hmm. Something about this is not right.”

One continues to read and the vague feeling starts to become a gnawing suspicion, and then finally there is a sentence that just screams, “Aha! This is total bullshit!”

That’s what is happening at the end of this CNN article.

Let’s parse this, shall we?

You can watch video from your Surface on your television. You can also transfer from tablet to TV and back. In order to do this, you have to have an Xbox, retail price $230 (cheapest Wal-Mart Online price). Undoubtedly, you’d also need an Xbox Gold account with its monthly fee.

I wonder if you have to connect with a USB cable, since that old-fashioned Wi-Fi is just a “workaround.”

Or, you can get an AppleTV ($99) and send video from your iPad to your TV — not just movies, but everything on your iPad. Oh, and that technology has been around a while, CNN.

In case you haven’t heard of it.