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October 28, 2013

Not your Grandfather’s Laptop

In life, I wear many hats professionally: climber, guide, photographer, filmmaker, speaker, water advocate. But, rarely are these varied professions coupled on one expedition. Our current Ganga: Source to Sea Expedition, however, bucked this tradition…and the Surface Pro rose to the challenge.

From the start, I’ve been putting my tablet-sized, but full-fledged, laptop through the paces. Our first three weeks in India saw my Surface Pro crammed into my backpack by day as we moved up the Gangotri Glacier, kilometer after kilometer. Each night, it would emerge from its protective case, pull juice from a Voltaic Systems battery, and import and process anywhere from 50-100 gigabytes of photos and video files via Adobe Lightroom 5 and PhotoMechanic, my go-to software for digital asset management. Files were copied each night from memory cards onto two USB 3.0 hard drives for redundancy. While the import ran in the background, I’d enter expedition financials on an Excel spreadsheet and write blog posts and other notes in Word. All the while, the Surface Pro never missed a beat.

After the climb, the Surface has been pounded by equal amounts of heavy data management, importing hundreds of gigabytes of images and video, and the rigors of climate on the plains of India. The intense heat, humidity, and omnipresent dust has caused no problems; everything runs as smoothly and quickly as when I first fired up my Surface a couple of months ago.

The real test, though, came last night in New Delhi. I was asked by my friends at Ibex Expeditions to present to a select audience of 200 Delhi-ites and media at the Adventure Stories event, a TED-esque presentation seminar hosted by Ibex, The Outdoor Journal, and Taj Hotels and Safaris. Again, the Surface Pro met the challenge mightily. On the plane, and later in my hotel, I sifted through images and video on various hard drives, editing in Lightroom and Photoshop and dropping everything into Powerpoint. Again, not a single issue, or even a hiccup.

The only issue arose when I wasn’t using my Surface Pro: the A/V department insisted on using their own laptop to run my presentation, and there were some minor issues with video output through their system. I have no doubt the Surface Pro – if given the opportunity – would have risen to that challenge as well as it has every other I’ve thrown at it.

Sitting here now, watching the countryside of rural West Bengal roll by through the train window, I marvel at this power-packed device. The Surface Pro is definitely not “your grandfather’s laptop”…It’s not even your father’s – or your previous – laptop. It’s everything those weren’t, and then some. And, it’s now my laptop, and I’m not letting it go!

– Jake Norton

To stay up to date on the Ganga Source to Sea Expedition, follow #GangaS2S on your social networks. Updates also available on Beyond the EdgeSurface, & Live Your Adventure blogs.