Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – Be Aware of the USB-C

First let me say this is NOT a full product review. Yes, my household does own a MS Surface Pro 7. Yes, my impressions of it are very positive. No, I have not used it as a daily driver, for heavy production like video editing or for gaming.

However, one thing that seems to be lacking is that if you are buying specific accessories to work with the USB-C, your only choice MAY be to buy from Microsoft.

We bought this primarily for my wife’s work (contract worker with frequent travel) and it seemed to fit her needs pretty well, with a few exceptions. External monitors and charging through the USB-C port.

She had no way to attach to an external monitor, like for a dual monitor set up or to perform presentations. I tried USB-C to HDMI dongles and nothing worked. They weren’t even acknowledged by the OS. I finally broke down and bought an MS dongle and it worked. It was five times the cost but it worked great.

I found on the internet that the USB-C port could be used for direct charging en lieu of the proprietary MS charger. Don’t believe it. It doesn’t matter the cord or quality or amperage of the supply. In a situation where the charger was left behind, the only fix was a mad dash to a local retailer that had the MS proprietary charger available.

Nowhere is it stated or implied in any MS information, either marketing or support, do they let you know the USB-C interface is somehow keyed or coded to use ONLY Microsoft proprietary accessories. It may be that the USB-C can support some industry standard stuff, but I haven’t found any. Buyer be informed.

Lenovo Ideapad Y510 Review

My model came with 2GB Ram and 250 Gb hard drive. The laptop has a 15.4 WXGA TFT with integrated camera AntiGlare widescreen driven by NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GTS 256MB for excellent images. The laptop is a slim format with a brush texture on the top lid. There is no latching mechanism.

Power up shows a neat graphic making you aware of Lenovo’s Veriface facial recognition software is installed. It’s intended to give you the added feeling of security and that added whiz bang.

Windows Vista Home Premium is installed and powers up easily enough. More on that later.

I focused first on examining the architecture and hardware. The laptop has an integrated web cam over the screen. On the left 2 USB ports, an Ethernet port, 1 firewire, 1 vga port a mini pci slot and the power port. On the right 1 USB port, a PS2 mouse port, a mic jack, a speaker/headset jack, the Dual Layer DVD burner, phone line jack and a slot for a laptop lock. The rear edge is slimmed and has ports. The front edge has two very tiny holes at the corners for integrated microphones, an IR lens/port, a memory card clot, three indicator lights (power, battery and stereo sound indicator), and a small micro slide switch for turning off the wireless adaptor. The top side has a volume control that’s orange, with surface level media buttons that highlight interchangeably when a circular button was depressed, a surface level mute button, a user defineable surface button, and media button that calls up media settings.

I found the wifi switch comforting when in unsecure areas. It’s nice to be able easily and quickly flip a switch to prevent wifi access instead of working through the menus to shut things down.

The hard drive configuration was irritating. My 250 Gb hard drive was partitioned into 29 Gb system, 188 Gb for anything, and the rest is in a hidden partition for system backups, although I have no idea when or how to use it. I had to use Vista’s ability to redefine the default documents folder and everything else to be on the unspecified partition.

The Veriface software seems to work okay, however it can be annoying when trying to log on in low lighting or when you don’t want to wait for authentication which takes a few seconds. I found that to use the webcam with messengers I had to disable the Veriface software. I’ve since tried re-enabling Veriface and haven’t been successful.

Lenovo also loads Shuttle Center II in their build. However I don’t get the sense of a media package that steals the entire functionality of such a powerful machine when most people want to multitask while listening to music.

I won’t take up a lot more time to go through more of the software. I do have one rant. Why in the world would Vista not have a fax function? I thank goodness I have Windows XP and Linux to keep me operating. The details of my Vista experience will come in another post.

The Ideapad is really a fantastic machine. I question some of the default build choices, but have no regrets. Definitely more than enough machine for everything I need and lots of horsepower and storage to spare.