Thursday, December 26, 2013

Silencing the Arc Touch SE Mouse

I’ve been using the Microsoft Arc Touch Surface Edition mouse for almost a month now. In fact, I’m coming up on the last possible return date. The thought of returning it has occasionally crossed my mind because sometimes I can’t use the mouse without annoying others in room due to the vibrating/clicking sound the mouse makes when you scroll. But as I discovered today, you can easily turn off the sound. And conveniently, all you have to do is install an app from the Windows Store.
Interestingly, once I turned it off I realized that I kind of miss the feedback. Easy enough, though, to toggle it on/off when needed.
Overall, the mouse itself is convenient. Easy to flatten and carry, requiring little space. It’s not the most comfortable mouse I’ve used but I think I’m fine with the tradeoff I get for the portability.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yoga 2 Pro - Initial Thoughts

I'd been planning for most of this past year to retire my older Dell Vostro 1520 laptop and replace it with a Surface Pro 2. Even when the original Surface Pro was just out the gate, I was content with resigned to waiting for the better-performing Haswell-based variety I kept hearing about.

I wanted the convenience and versatility of a tablet/laptop combo to use as my one device no matter where I went. I needed something powerful enough to run Visual Studio and SQL while also light and portable enough to kick back and enjoy a touch-first experience with the more-than-sufficient number of good Modern UI apps available in the Windows Store.

I did have one nagging question, however, that kept me from pulling the trigger: what would it really be like to work many hours straight on the smaller 10.6" screen, particularly when staring at the code editor?

While debating this in my mind, I began seeing a new round of convertible Ultrabooks that were intriguing. They were touch-capable laptops first, but were small enough and light enough to be used as tablets in certain scenarios. The more I thought about it, they fit my personal needs better.

I settled on the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, the next iteration of their Yoga series featuring a 4th-gen Intel (Haswell) processor. I also looked at the ThinkPad Yoga, but ended up with the Yoga 2 Pro for two primary reasons:
  1. Best Buy carried the Yoga 2 Pro at a good price given the specs. In particular, their excellent Christmastime return policy made it a safe option.
  2. The Y2P was thinner/lighter than the ThinkPad Yoga, with a slightly larger screen and a somewhat more appealing profile. It was also a bit less expensive.

Here's my take on using it for the first two weeks:

The Good:

  • Convenient. It is lightweight and fast.
  • Sharp screen. The high resolution has generally not been an issue for me on the desktop. The DPI setting defaults to 200%, and it is needed. Visual Studio does a pretty good job scaling at that DPI setting, as do Office and IE. SQL Management Studio doesn't seem to scale as well (the Object Explorer tree nodes are a little small), but it is sufficient. Even Chrome isn't as bad as I'd heard, but the tabs don't utilize the space available to them. [UPDATE: It appears that Chrome tabs are now displaying more appropriately]

  • Tablet mode. It's nice, but I haven't used it much, and I think that fact confirms that I made the right choice in going with a laptop-first device.

The (Initially) Not-So-Good:

  • Wi-Fi wouldn't work out of the box. The wireless adapter didn't even show up in Device Manager. Installing Lenovo's wireless adapter driver resolved the issue, but I'm not sure what happened there.
  • Bluetooth was a major issue and almost caused me to return the device. My Arc Touch SE mouse was constantly dropping. I thought that perhaps the Y2P's single-band Wireless-N card could be conflicting with Bluetooth since that uses the same 2.4GHz band. After a few frustrating days messing with drivers I decided to uninstall the Lenovo driver and use the generic one. That still didn't help. But I then came across a thread in Lenovo's user forum that pointed to one simple setting. Since unchecking this setting, it has been solid - only one drop in a few days. I still haven't re-installed Lenovo's Bluetooth driver, but it suspect that won't be an issue.

  • I did also get a few BSOD errors related to Bluetooth, but that was early on and was probably related to messing around with the drivers while trying to fix the drops. None of that has occurred since those first couple days.

Other considerations:

  • I continue to occasionally see this message in the System event log when booting, pertaining to my use of Hyper-V (needed for WP8 development): "The speed of Hyper-V logical processor 2 is being limited by system firmware." I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure yet whether this is a big deal. I can still run the WP8 emulator.
  • The Function keys come defaulted to using Lenovo's specific settings, and this is actually pretty useful in most scenarios. But this setting can be reversed in the BIOS so you get the normal use of the F keys without pressing Fn.
  • I like the feel of the keyboard, but haven't completely adjusted yet to the layout of the Page Up/Down, Home, End keys.

I've got another few weeks to return it, should I need to. But I'm hoping I'll continue to find the performance good and the device stable. I still think the Surface Pro 2 is a great device and might work for my scenario, but I am glad I went with a larger device given my needs.

Final note worth mentioning: I did wipe the primary partition and install a clean copy of Windows 8.1 Pro.