Be still my beating heart – Surface Duo is now pre-ordering. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve missed out on the best news of the summer.
Surface Duo is the perfect road warrior – compact, light-weight and innovative.
Oh yes, I’m a fangirl! When I started looking at the specs, I expected to see it running a variation of Win 10, like the “s” version. I was surprised to learn Duo runs the latest version of Android – 10, and comes with the usual complement of Google apps like maps, chrome, app store etc. You’ll be able to load up on your favourite Android apps without a fuss. Streaming fans take note, it has Chromecast built-in. As expected with any Microsoft device, it also comes complete with the 365 Office suite right out of the box. It feels like the best of both the Android and Microsoft worlds.
What makes me so excited? Well, the hinged duo screens. The Surface Duo operate either independently as two separate screens or as an extended widescreen. On top of that, it has a built in keyboard, the user can swipe out of the way when not needed. No need to purchase a separate keyboard. That little convenience keeps the device weight to a minimum. Take a look:
That’s flexibility. At less than 8oz, this feather light tablet collapses down into book size. You have a choice of 128GB or 256GB storage and is equipped with Gorilla Glass so it should be robust enough to handle most situations. Theoretically, it has a 15hr battery life, but we’ll have to see if that pans out. I rarely find battery time promises live up to expectations.
Unfortunately, it’s $1,300 price tag will put it out of a lot of people’s reach, including myself. If you manage to get your hands on one, drop a message below and let us know how it runs. We’ll live vicariously through you.
I was poking the Microsoft store with a stick again to see what would fall out and look what tumbled out: Enhancer makes a number of changes in the way YouTube behaves, including volume control with a quick flick of the mouse wheel. It does other stuff too, but the ability to scroll the volume is exciting. Yea, yea, I really need to get out more, but seriously, it’s great. Enhancer, by MRFDEV Web Development, offers a number of options, including blocking ads, disable auto play, set automatic screen size, and much more. It’s worth a trip to the store to check out, especially if you watch a lot of YouTube. I personally like the option to preset the video to start on a specific screen size and quality and disable auto play.
The only teeny thing I have to complain about is accessing the controls. They are placed at the very bottom of the page (very unobtrusive) and occasionally a bit tricky to click. I have a couple customers who have control issues and wouldn’t be able to tap that tiny control panel without a major hassle. It would be nice if the pop up was a little larger.
To download it for Edge browser, fire up the Store app and search for Enhancer. It also comes in Chrome, Firefox and Opera flavours so you get to choose which browser you prefer.
Extensions are slowly (oh soooo slowly) trickling into the Microsoft Store. There are a couple worth picking up, including today’s offering – the long awaited Pinterest Pin It extension. I missed having that handy little pin it feature when I moved over to Edge. It installs as expected and works pretty well. For avid Pinterest users, this is an essential extension.
Go to the Microsoft Store and either look up Edge Extensions or search Pinterest to down load it. Once installed, go back to Edge and you’ll be greated with a message to turn it on. Click on the button and you’re good to go. Happy pinning.
There’s been a lot of chit chat lately about Microsoft Cortana’s voice activated help. What isn’t talked about, as much, is how you can use it for quick searches via Edge browser using only your mouse.
Here’s how it works:
1 – highlight a word or phrase
2 – right click on the highlighted section
3 – tap “Ask Cortana”
A window will slide open on the right of the screen with the results. Keep Cortana open by pinning it (top right corner, tap the thumbtack). This allows you to scroll through all the offerings without having to redo the right click ask routine. When you click a search result, it shows up in the main window (on the left), leaving the rest of the list accessible.
You can even use this Cortana search for info on images you see on any webpage. Right click on a photo/image -> Ask Cortana and it will pop up information. This doesn’t always work and occassionally can spit up a rather wonky result (see here: Fun with Cortana and More fun with Cortana). Accuracy will depend entirely on whether the page designer setup the image tags correctly. At the very least, it can be entertaining.
When you are finished, either leave Cortana pinned to the side of the browser or tap the X and close it off. Just highlight -> right click->Ask Cortana for the next search. Doesn’t matter which you choose, it’s up to you. I prefer to close the Cortana window off because I don’t like so much of my browser real estate to be used up.
Cortana uses Microsoft’s Bing (of course) so if you’re a Google fan, the lack of customization will be a bit irritating. It also works exclusively with Edge. If you are a hard core Firefox or Chrome user, this isn’t going to be an option. Bing (like Edge) has shown a great deal of improvement over the last year and is now my go-to search engine. However, I realize both search engines and browsers engender fierce brand loyalty and it’s difficult to get people to test drive different ones. The streamlined Bing, Cortana and Edge search mode speeds up searches and works seamlessly, making it worth checking out.