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Microsoft Surface debuts for NFL replay review

Commentary: In Thursday night's Hall of Fame game, the referee stared into a Surface to see a play from various angles.

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


So much more elegant than being under a hood.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It used to be so oldy-worldy.

The referee would cover himself with a hood while staring into some archaic monitor to see a replay review, as if he were at a peep show.

On Thursday, however, the referee at the Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals stood proudly, as he stared into a slightly modified Microsoft Surface held by a throwback hipster type.

In this case, referee Jerome Boger became the first to review a NFL replay on a Surface, which was introduced in the hopes of speeding up the replay review process. 

As former NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino explained on Twitter: "NFL debuts replay tablets tonite. 2 tablets, 1 at each 20 yd line for ref to use during reviews. Replaces under the hood monitor."

No controversy ensued after Boger reviewed a call of down-by-contact that was challenged by the Cowboys. The call was confirmed.

It must have been a relief for Microsoft.

Since the Surface's entry into the NFL three years ago -- where it's been used to help coaches and players review previous plays and formations more quickly -- its reception has been less than smooth. 

Announcers kept referring to it as an iPad.

Worse, much feared and revered New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick smashed a Surface in frustration last year. He got so fed up with the device that he went back to paper.

It's possible that it was the stadium Wi-Fi that was at fault, rather than the tablet. 

Still, one can only hope that cameras won't look over the referee's shoulder too often. It could get awkward if viewers conclude that the referee and the replay officials in New York with whom he consults have deficient sight.

Naturally, Thursday's first effort has already enjoyed a little Twitter mockery

There's plenty of time for mockery during an NFL game.

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