Microsoft Surface RT Review

8

Daniel Bader

November 8, 2012 9:26pm


The Microsoft Surface is one of the most exciting products to be released in recent memory. It enters the mobile space at a time when we’re not sure what to call anything anymore. Laptops are taking on touchscreens; iPads are being used as points-of-sale; notebooks are being mistaken for tablets; and hybrids are the new buzz word.

Essentially, the Surface RT is all those things. It’s a potent combination of tablet and personal computer, and marries the brand new Windows 8 ecosystem with one of the most beautiful pieces of hardware I’ve ever seen.

But Windows RT is not Windows 8, and that has to be made very clear from the start. The Surface is also very much a 1.0 product, and has to be viewed in that light. So with that in mind – and the $519 entry price in our sights – can the Surface be deemed a success? Read on to find out.

The Microsoft Surface RT is a great piece of hardware. Its 10.6-inch screen has a resolution of 1366×768, low by today’s Retina standards but still extremely vivid and clear. Microsoft has been touting the display as better than the competition despite its lower pixel density: the tablet’s IPS screen is fused to the sheet of glass, minimizing reflections and ensuring excellent fidelity at any angle.

Due to the way I tended to use the Surface, the resolution rarely bothered me. But this also means that in most cases I used the tablet more like a laptop than a tablet, and that could pose a problem to prospective users unsure of what they’re buying into.

The best thing about the Surface is its build quality. While it’s heavier than the average tablet, it’s more robust by a mile than much of the competition. Two showcase features of the device – its kickstand and its keyboard connector – attempt to differentiate its feature set, but companies like Lenovo and Dell are outdoing even Microsoft in this case. Microsoft wins in the elegance department, though.

The kickstand is incredibly sturdy, and orients the Surface at an angle ideal for watching media or using the keyboard. In reality, I would have preferred a slightly softer orientation – or the ability to adjust the stand manually – but it rarely impeded by ability to interact with the device when docked.

The left side houses a headphone jack, volume rocker and one of the stereo speakers; the right side sports a full-sized USB port and micro HDMI out, along with the other speaker. While stereo separation is appreciated, the sound from these tiny portholes is soft, thin and altogether underwhelming. You can, of course, use the headphone jack to attach your own buds or use Bluetooth to connect to an external sound system, but it doesn’t change the fact that Microsoft failed to deliver a great sound experience on the tablet.

Holding the device in one hand is difficult; its 16:9 ratio ensures an almost-permanent horizontal orientation, and it’s clear from using the Surface that Windows RT was not meant to be used in portrait mode. It’s also heavy: at 1.5lbs, it’s lighter than the average laptop, even with the Touch or Type Cover attached (more on those shortly) but it’s still not a one-handed machine.

What’s really good:

The Surface is incredibly versatile. Windows RT is extremely fluid and responsive – for the most part – and delivers a polished tablet experience. Microsoft emphasizes bezel-area gestures to activate the Charms bar and to swipe between open apps; the experience is rewarding and downright fun. This is by far the best multitasking implementation currently available on a tablet, largely because the hardware is running a version of software created with an open concept operating system in mind.

The Microsoft Store may be sparse at the moment, but it’s being filled with gorgeous Metro Modern UI-style software that have the potential to be really, really good. Apps like Netflix, Skype and Wikipedia work with within the constraints of the Windows RT interface, and full-screen apps suit the navigation needs of the operating system.

Microsoft’s first-party software like Xbox Music, Maps, SkyDrive, People Hub and Email are well-designed, but lack the features of many third-party efforts on other platforms.

The tablet, when paired with either a Touch Cover or Type Cover ($100-130 extra, depending on the version), acts as a great word processor. Every Surface RT tablet comes with a touch-optimized version of Office 2013, though vexingly it’s missing Outlook. Still, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote combine with Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud service to deliver a rich business/enterprise experience, something that Apple’s iPad hasn’t quite been able to match just yet.

That you can plug into the USB port a number of peripherals is another important differentiator in making the Surface incredibly versatile. Don’t want to pay for the Touch Cover? Buy a wired keyboard. Want to emulate the feeling of a true laptop? Connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, preferably optimized for Windows 8. Microsoft wants the Surface to be a no-compromise machine, and to that end thinks you should be able to enjoy the best of both a tablet and laptop in one machine.

The Touch Cover keyboard is an amazing piece of technology. At 3mm thick, the keys give no feedback but for a coordinated audio “blip” on the Surface itself. The pressure-sensitive keys make it hard to place your fingers, at least at first, but once acclimatized I found I was able to type fair quickly when combined with Windows RT’s excellent autocorrect abilities. Because it also covers the screen, it’s a nice addition to the kit, but many users will prefer the 6mm Type Cover, which has a wide, tactile keypad that better suits the Office worker.

The Surface works incredibly well as a multi-tasking device because it is designed more like a computer than a tablet. The ability to delve into the traditional Windows desktop, with all the knobs and buttons it entails, is great for those who want to delve into the nitty gritty of drivers and window resizing. Unlike some other reviewers, I appreciate that Microsoft didn’t omit the old-school desktop in favour of an interface restricted to Metro. Other than to use Office, you’d be forgiven for never entering it.

Of course, with a traditional Windows desktop, a microSD slot and a full-sized USB port, the ability to add storage, both through a card or an external hard drive, brings even more versatility to the Surface. I keep using this word, but it’s true: iPad users are still tethered to iTunes for much of their media transferring needs. You can bring a small thumb drive with full seasons of your favourite shows and watch them during flights. The kickstand orients the Surface perfectly for most airplane seats, though a flat, um, surface, is needed for optimal kickstand usage.

This brings us to battery life. The Surface tablet has fantastic longevity, and will last between seven and 10 hours on a single charge with moderate to heavy use. Obviously when multitasking and using it more as a “computer” than a tablet, you may knock a couple hours off the tally, but for the most part the Surface does not disappoint in that department. The included power brick is relatively portable, and the magnetic latch is a nice touch, if a little finicky.

What still needs work:

I had a goal this week: leave my laptop and tablet at home and use the Surface as both. I am writing this review in Microsoft Word, and will later copy-and-paste it into Internet Explorer 10.

In terms of word processing, the Surface is a marvel. Not only does it feel far more spacious than the iPad from an interface perspective, but it feels more capable as a computer than any tablet I’ve used to date.

But that comes at a price. The Surface doesn’t feel finished: apps are slow to load and often crash. And there are so few apps worth using at the moment that it feels like Windows Phone did back in 2010. Those that come with the Surface, such as the Mail app, look good but rarely match iOS for features. The Surface doesn’t respect competitors’ email services, and does everything it can to push its Windows Live products at every turn. While it’s understandable that there is no priority inbox, label colour support or “Send as” support for Gmail, the Mail app also doesn’t have a unified inbox or advanced IMAP support. It syncs slowly – painfully at times – as messages would show up several seconds after their equivalents on the iPad or an Android phone. This isn’t a huge indictment of the device, but rather one example of many areas in which the Surface lacks polish.

As you’ve likely heard by now, the Surface RT runs Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 made specifically for ARM-based processors. This in itself is not a bad thing: RT retains most of what makes Windows 8 a fantastic upgrade over its predecessor, and the new start page and full-screen apps are a delight to use.

But because legacy Windows apps cannot run on Windows RT without being recompiled, thousands of industry standards, from Photoshop to Outlook, are out of our reach at the moment. The Windows Store reads like a catalogue of broken dreams: the Evernote app, for example, made me smile with familiarity until I opened it to find a shell of its iPad version. CBC News, another app I was thrilled to find in the Store, loads slowly and scrolls choppily. These attributes litter the Surface and left me feeling frustrated and sad. The hardware is so good; the software has such potential. But ultimately much of the Surface feels half-baked.

This could be owed to the fact that Microsoft, in order to keep costs down, used an aging Tegra 3 processor and a stifling 2GB of RAM to power the Surface. It would seem logical that a quad-core chip would easily be able to run a slim OS like Windows RT, but slowdown happened in the most unexpected places.

When playing the popular game Jetpack Joyride, for instance, the game looked great and ran at 30fps – that is, until I interacted with it. As soon as I tapped the screen, which is the only control mechanism in the game, the frame rate dropped and the app started stuttering. It was as if the graphics drivers were working too hard to turn touch into response.

Another strange instance of high CPU utilization was working in Word: you’d think that the Surface would be easily able to keep up with text input, but the Tegra 3 would spike between 10% and 50% whenever the app was open and I was tapping away.

The CPU utilization issue was seemingly random, and often defied logic. For example, I had no problem watching a HD YouTube movie in IE 10 when pinned to the left side while scrolling through extensive Twitter lists on the right in Tweetro. But at times loading simple pages in the same browser would take an interminably long time, and once finished would stutter when scrolling or zooming.

Coming back around

This may have seemed like a strange review, but that’s because the Surface is a strange device. Unlike many tablets I use, after a week I still have a strong desire to pick up the tablet and use it. That’s perhaps the strongest endorsement I can give: despite its faults, the Surface is useful.

Throughout this review process, I listened to music on the amazing Xbox Music, a free ad-supported service available to Canadians (take that Spotify); answered emails by responding to the unobtrusive notifications; browsed the web on the amazing Internet Explorer 10 browser; and played a couple rounds of Jetpack Joyride. I used the interesting-but-frustrating Touch Cover and its included trackpad to navigate the OS before resigning myself to the speed and comfort of the excellent Type Cover and a real mouse, one that I connected using the included full-sized USB port.

In other words, much of my enjoyment from the Surface came from using it as an ultraportable laptop rather than a full-fledged tablet. It’s not that it can’t be used as one, but the truly great tablet-optimized apps just aren’t there yet. I also found it frustrating that I couldn’t do everything I would have on my laptop, such as basic photo and video editing, on the Surface, something I have no trouble finding ways to accomplish on the iPad or an Android tablet.

The Surface will one day be fantastic, I have no doubt about that. Perhaps it will take a few months for the ecosystem to “click” and great apps to be released. Maybe it will take until the second Surface tablet, with a faster processor and a higher-resolution screen. It could take until the Surface 3, when weight and battery life are no longer an issue. The Surface will, one day I’m sure, be a successful and profitable venture for Microsoft. Even without Apple’s years of design prowess behind them, Microsoft has managed to outdo almost all of its partners in hardware quality on its first try.

Even if the Surface isn’t an instant hit with consumers, business users and those in enterprise services are going to love the combination of VPN-ready capabilities inside this mostly-baked PC/tablet hybrid. Whether everyday users will choose the Surface over a competing tablet highly depends on Microsoft’s ability to convince them that “clicking in” is better than tap, tap, tapping. 

8

Final Score

  • AppleStockHolder

    I’d rather get an iPad for this price. Better design and many more apps.

    • Jay

      I have to disagree. The iPad can’t run two apps, it’s just silly to quit a video, open Facebook, respond to my friend and go back to my video; the Surface can do 2 apps completely at the same time. The lack of USB makes the iPad very annoying, to way to transfer files, get my pictures, etc. I don’t care about the apps on the iPad since the structure itself is a stretch iPod and that isn’t functional. I can take a picture with my Camera, transfer it to my Surface and upload it to any website with a real browser while chatting on a metro app running on the side at the same time…. priceless!

    • Iphone5sucker

      Hey AppleStockHolder, hows that Apple share lately? Getting pounded on wall street lately eh. I mean 537 aint bad from the highs off 700 back in September. I mean analyst said it would hit 1000 but a 20% drop since September and another 3.6% drop today. Don’t worry the Ipad should soften the fall.

    • Iphone5sucker

      Oh and btw how that litening adapter………..chuckle, SUCKERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

    • Stupid

      None of these tablets for me at these prices thanks.
      Over priced useless toys.

      If you need to get work done, use a laptop.
      If it’s a toy mostly. You must like to waste money.

    • John

      @ iphone5sucker: I can’t speak for Applestockholder but personally it’s been no problem at all…the stock may be down 20% but I’m still up by nearly 500% since I bought it 5 years ago.

      Gotta go with the trend buddy…

      How are your stocks doing?

  • Chew

    One of the fairest reviews of the Surface RT I’ve read. Very nicely done.

    • 32for16

      The 32GB has only 16GB FREE!
      That’s the biggest omission of the review.
      It has just been found in other reviews, it will be common knowledge soon.
      $720 for the tablet with keybourd with 32GB of which the OS takes 16GB ???

      You can buy one Nexus 10-32GB plus keyboard AND a Nexus 4-8GB for the same price!!

    • Thomas

      @32for26

      Put a 64gb MicroSD in it. Or attach a thumb drive to the FULL SIZED USB PORT. Hell, why not a 2TB Portable HDD?

    • je

      I think this was a very good review. Some fair points made. Great device overall. I think the reality is that for people who actually want to get stuff done, the Surface is a very good choice.
      One nit-picky thing about the review though, and maybe this is just me, but I hate when reviewers say things like “… but lack the features of many third-party efforts on other platforms..”. I think for completeness, at least give some examples of what it is that you are missing? This would give the reader an idea about whether they are things that matter to them.

  • Craig

    I agree, the iPad is clearly the superior tablet here.

  • Vandon

    I love my iPad. Best tablet out there.

  • MicrosoftLover

    I’d rather have an iPad. Much better value and ecosystem.

    • spanky

      Judging by all the sheep here the crApple forums must be a little boring lately?

  • KGB

    Ew, this thing surface thing is too big. iPad for the win!

  • RussianKing

    Omg Microsoft needs to stop trying…iPads are awesome and everybody else should just stop trying……..

    • RealityView

      If everyone else stopped delevoping technology then who would Apple copy? Virtually all their “innovative” products are merely iterations of existing technology.

  • SammyK

    iPad > Microsoft Surface

  • Kassam1285

    Haha TOO pricey for some rip off version of W8 hahahahaha. There’s a reason why the iPad is the king of all tablets

  • Emergency911

    Wow looks like iPads are much more popular…I guess that’s why it’s the best selling tablet in the history of the world and the most valuable company since the beginning of time.

    GO APPLE!!!

  • Kezghan

    I like this device enough to know I will love the PRO version next year.

    • Drew B

      Sorry at the same insides as the RT version swapping out the Tergra 3 for an Intel 5 or 7 but with only a 4hr battery wtf was M$ thinking !!!

  • AndroidFreak

    Well at least the surface has a better OS than crappy fragmented android.

    iPad still wins…BY FAR. We seriously need more legit competition. Seriously….

  • TKG26

    Wait for the SURFACE running windows8pro..

    • JonnyDub

      Totally agree. Can’t wait for my Surface Pro!

  • WP8forLyfe

    I’m a windows fan but I must admit the iPad is definitely a superior tablet in every way, shape, and form. And it certainly beats android by miles.

  • Chris

    Yuck…the only tablet I use is the iPad. All this other ^}}*#}{} needs to step up its game

  • LadiesMan786

    iPad iPad iPad iPad!!!!!!!!!!!! BEST TABLET EVERRRRRRRRR

  • Brian Kukol

    Good review. I was considering trying one out but I will probably wait to see what the next generation will bring.
    I am quite content with my xoom.

  • FelipeCP

    This is actually a pretty solid tablet. Looks good and the keyboard is a great idea. From what I used it at the Microsoft Store, software seems stable as well. But you have to be realistic. If you buy an RT tablet, it is an investment for the future. At least Microsoft has the money to keep this thing alive for years to come, but only the future will tell if developers will actually bring their apps to a new platform. Hopefully it takes off, competition is better for us the customers.

  • not a barrista

    Office is a killer app. Skydrive integration makes your documents available everywhere. If you use Windows phone you quickly realize that SkyDrive and OneNote eliminate the need for many apps.

    If you think dropbox and your apple app collection can match this you aren’t working in an office. Surface or ThinkPad will become the business tablet of choice.

    Oh yeah its also got a delete key!

  • Darth Paton

    I swear somebody is just repeatedly commenting under a different alias each time. To whomever this may be, if you are reading this comment, I hope you realize the sad state your life has come to. You have nothing better to do then repeatedly attack a product for no apparant reason? I pray you come to reality and do something with your pathetic life.

    • 32for16

      Expect a tons of unrealistic ber-positive comments/freebies to the mobilesyrup crew and Advertorials for the Microsoft products this season.

      They have announced that they will spend ONE BILLION dollars in marketing for W8 products this season.

      This does not make the products better, but certainly creates a lot of noise and buzz. It’s up to the product to keep it going.

      At $720 and 16GB available for the 32GB model I think this is a FAIL!
      Microsoft has to see themselves as a newcomer ecosystem, so they have to compete in price with the N4 for phones and the N7, N10 for tablets.

      I would condider the Surface at $350-$400 (plus $50 for the antivirus) over $450 I might just get a Laptop without CD drive!
      At $720 I can get a refurbished/use mac laptop, not the best performance but the best Re-selling value and longevity, considering that hardware requirements don’t jump every 6 momnths in the world of apple. And don’t even get me into the re-selling value of an apple product!
      At $720 the Surface is a Fail, next! , Zzzzzz

    • spanky

      you got that right bro

    • Tom

      I agree that MS, as the newcomer trying to establish a new ecosystem, should have priced this much more aggressively (RT doesn’t need anti-virus BTW).

      Even with good build quality, it just seems out of whack to pay this much for a low-res, rather heavy tablet with very few apps.

      Windows 8 sounds pretty good but I’d rather they took some of that Billion marketing dollars and put it towards a better price the way Google did!

    • spanky

      @Darth Paton you got that right bro

    • bob

      Oh there is the one guy who keeps posting under different names. Just look at the times, 5 all 1 minitue apart then nothing for 15 minutes? yeah….

      The only reason the hardware requerments don’t change with apple is because apple never changes them. Unlike the pc world where computers are always evolving. The large ipad hasn’t changed in what 2-3 years? sure they re brand the screen and call it better but its still the same that it was before. iPhone has only seen a screen change in 4 years, and the speed has yet to really increase compared to the androids, hell even the new windows phones are faster…

  • jellmoo

    I think Microsoft did a few great things here:

    1) They put out an absolutely beautiful piece of hardware. It has a very premium feel to it.
    2) They put out a solid device that with a little work could be excellent in enterprise.
    3) Their Touch Cover is the first real innovation in this regard, and by all accounts is great after the initial learning curve.

    This won’t dethrone the iPad, and I doubt it was meant to. As a gen 1 product, Microsoft has shown they have the design and innovation pedigree to hang with Apple in the premium tablet realm, and they are really the first company to do so. They aren’t there yet, but imagine what they’ll be able to do in a generation or two.

  • Mark

    I was hoping for outlook, at this point the $129 32gig playbook is looking better than anything else….

  • Al

    Fanboys = Trolls

  • Mark H

    Not a fanboy here or somebody who wants to discourage people from buying a Surface Tab but something I don’t believe was mentioned in the review and should be on the mind of smart shoppers especially with other alternatives out there…

    The reason that Microsoft has no choice but to offer up a 32GB tablet at the same price as the retina iPad is because the OS takes up 12GB of space. Effectively it’s like getting a 16GB tablet.

    • 32for16

      100% agreed!
      Daniel: could you tell us how much USABLE space do you have on the $520 -16GB Surface??

    • freestaterocker

      @32for16 there is no 16gb version. $519 is the 32gb price.

    • phreezerburn

      You do realize that applications for Windows 8 RT will be making heavy use of libraries preexisting within the OS itself?

  • Mark H

    I forgot to add….

    The tablet looks great, but I believe that Microsoft is making the same mistake that the big Android tablet makers have made as well:

    Apple beat them to market, they have a built in sales advantage based on that headstart. I believe the only way to blunt that advantage is to bring a tablet to market that is at least comparable to Apple’s offering but is cheaper. If that means you don’t enjoy the profit margins that Apple does so be it.

    Like it or not, people don’t care that all of these tablets being offered at the same price (or more) than the iPad have better specs or a more open system…they see the name brand in the tablet space (iPad) priced similarly. Right or wrong, it makes the decision for most people who don’t care about specs very easy.

    My own personal decision last year came down to the Transformer Prime and the iPad2 and while the Prime was a superior tablet spec wise, the iPad won out. I think Microsoft is going to run into the same issue…They should have eaten the cost of those keyboards to bring the whole package in at the $500 price point.

    Right now I’m interested to see how Nexus 10 does. Google I think gets it. They have a tablet running their top end OS with bleeding edge specs and vitally it’s going to be $100 less than the Retina iPad and in line price wise with the dated iPad2. I think if anything is going to make a dent in Apple’s market share it’s going to be using Google’s line of thinking.

    • phreezerburn

      Not so much as Surface is already doing the big cross device sharing through Skydrive and Office 365 along with what has been reported as a stellar Teamviewer experience with the ink barely dry on the boxes.

  • photomike

    I have watched all the video and played with windows 8 but have not had the chance to play with surface its self. but a fair rating 8/10 is enough for me to purchase one for my wife who is currently using a 3 year old netbook. over all windows 8 is very nice looking and hear this apple fans, NEW!!!!!!! it has a NEW!!! look and feel to the way it works and if they can integrate their phone OS the same way that Blackberry has with the play book it will take the market from the NOT new ipad.

  • Tom

    The review gives major marks for the build, but the thing sounds heavy. I still believe that weight is important and the lighter the better, and I’m puzzled that users seem to like their mobile devices to be heavy now – I guess the weigh conveys strength and durability?

    • Braumin

      I don’t get this “heavy” thing. It’s within 20 grams of an iPad.

      It’s not heavy.

      Don’t forget it’s about the same weight as an iPad but with a slightly larger screen 10.6 @ 16×9 = 48 sq inches vs 9.7 @ 4×3 = 45 sq inches.

  • Braumin

    I finally got to use a Surface yesterday and I was very impressed. I’ve been using Windows 8 on my desktop and I love it, but with the touch input it really does come to life.

    The app situation will likely sort itself out soon. App makers (like the CBC app for instance) have not had a chance to do any testing on the ARM side and obviously didn’t realise just how slow an ARM CPU is. The CBC app of course works great on an x86 CPU. With the ARM devices now available, I would expect that to get fixed because the devs will be able to test against both platforms.

    I thought the review was fair, but my only comment is your apparent misunderstanding on why it doesn’t have Outlook. The Surface RT is a consumer device. Office Home and Student has never come with Outlook. There are no surprises here. They have a mail app – it’s a bit rough right now but is functional. It will get improved over time just like a lot of the other things.

    It’s a 1.0 product for sure, but they did a really good job on a 1.0 product.

  • Jesse

    The Surface still looks better than most Android tablets.

  • chulamin

    I put my iPad3 aside for the Surface and so far find that I don’t miss it. It’s a much better business tool. I spent the whole morning today viewing an online demonstration while troubleshooting an Exchange backup problem via remote desktop. I had two other remote desktop sessions open for other reasons and answered email all while listening to CBC radio. I could never have done that with the iPad. The Surface is definitely the more useful business tool.

  • rayn

    Finally a fair unbiased review. That was well done. Good job Daniel!

  • Too Expensive

    How many have they sold so far ?

    Instead of spending a billion dollars in marketing it , MS should have used that 1 billion dollars to have a more aggressive pricing of around 349.99 to 399.99 , and thy could have killed Ipad and created a whole new ecosystem fort themselves :)

    Sure its a great tablet , but with Ipad mini at 329.99 and Ipad2 at 399.99 ..people will still go for the cheaper ones.

    Instead of trying to price it at the newer ipads price point of $ 500 , they shouldhave priced it at at Ipad 2 ‘s price point :)

  • Jess

    That os is balls. Bb10 or bust

  • jrfox87

    This is a great looking tablet and has fantastic build quality and is overall a great first gen product. However in my limited time playing with one in store I find the software to be a little sluggish compared to competitors and I think including the desktop was a big mistake as its not that touch friendly at all and it likely contributes a good deal to the footprint of the OS. I really hope that in the future Microsoft drops the desktop from this type of hardware and really works at making the OS slimmer and more efficient on this type of hardware. They also need to be very competitive on price in order to get a solid user base that will attract developers. I believe Microsoft has the potential to have the dominant OS in the tablet space but I don’t think this version will even get them past android.

  • Mike

    I just played with one earlier today at their popup store at Metrotown. The thing looks great, and feels fantastic. The screen is gorgeous. Touch responsiveness is awesome.

    For me it’s down to the Surface and the Nexus 10 for Christmas.

  • Nholling

    Its a lot more than a simple “recompile” to build a winrt app. A regular windows app 9 times out of 10 can’t be recompiled to get a metro app. Metro apps are written in a new API called winrt. Most developers will need to code their apps from scratch. This up front work and the lack of users (until now) is the reason behind the lack of Windows RT apps.

  • ile2010

    If this thing has a fast desktop-featured browser, then I don’t care if there’s a lack of apps. My PC runs Linux, so I know a thing or two about a lack of “major” apps, but it hasn’t stopped me from using my PC for everything I need.

    I’m waiting to pick up a Windows Phone 8 device. At that point, I’ll even pick up an upgrade to Win8 Pro from Microsoft for $40 (my PC came with Vista and I got a free Win7 upgrade, so I’m eligible). I really want to see how well my PC, phone, and Xbox come together.

    I don’t see the surface “beating” the iPad, and I don’t think that Microsoft is trying to compete with Apple in this regard. Why? Because in order to compete, Microsoft has the ability to price it better but this would nat make its hardware partners very happy. What the Surface does is raise the bar for Microsoft’s hardware partners in terms of design and build quality. Have you seen Acer’s new Windows tablets? When has ACER made anything that looks like that? What about Samsung, Toshiba, or Lenovo? HP, like Google, seems content on letting Mattel design their devices (with the exception of the N7). Not bashing Google (but I am bashing HP), but I just don’t like their design language as I prefer sharper lines. Overall, however, I expect Windows tablets to surpass iPads.

  • galaxy blob

    Sorry but this device is pure fail. MS had the opportunity to start fresh with no backward compatibility requirements, and the choice of any hardware platform. And they give us:
    – 1366×768 screen – no one wants that. Thats what you get on a cheapo laptop. Give us at least 1440×900 (the ipad is 2048×1536)
    – “It’s also heavy”. No one wants a heavy device. The ipad is pushing it, and this weighs more. If you can’t hold it in one hand for any length of time, why not get a laptop?
    – The touch cover only has audio feedback. Sounds horrible. Is that really any better than an on screen keyboard?
    – This is the deal breaker for me. “apps are slow to load and often crash.” Are you kidding? That is Windows 3.0 stuff. Just not acceptable in 2012!
    I don’t see a huge amount of apps being created for RT. Remember Windows Mobile? Windows fans are going to get tablets running the x86 version of Windows 8. This thing will be the next Zune.
    A couple of questions, is the kickstand angle adjustable? And…what is a “Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, preferably optimized for Windows 8″.

    • hobel

      windows rt uses the same app store as windows 8. almost all windows store apps are compatible with both windows 8 and rt. so most of the apps that are being developed for windows 8 are available on rt devices as well.

  • Johentie

    is it the same person making all the ipad comments??? mann must really have no life!

    This is good that Microsoft has launched something competing and giving customers choice..

    i really hope that WP8 and BB10 make a dent and people actually realize that iOS and Android aren’t the only choices out there to get things done..

    biggest argument is the apps… early adopters of andoird has like 0 apps! i know i was one of them.. i have the G1 the day it came out.. also apples iphone had very little as well.. i know cause i had the first iphone on launch day..

    sooo u see the more people that use WP8 and BB10 the more apps there will be.. early adopters will have to deal with it for a little bit but again the more people that leave ios and android the more devs will want to develop for BB10 and WP8..

    also not to mention that there is so much compettion out there in iOS and Android, unless ur a big time dev company.. ur not making the $$ u want.. it’s better to move over to a WP8 and BB10 app and make it native.. make something that’s not out there (which won’t be to hard to find) and make it nice and functional and u’ll make ur $$!

  • Matthew

    most of the reviews I have read about this thing are 50/50, its got some good and some bad.

    So then I look at as the determining factor. I am willing to take some bad knowing that this is a first effort device but not at $500. If this was $399, I’d honestly have one right now and sounds like alot of others would too.

    After reading this review, I have decied to hold off which is too bad i was hoping to pair it up with a new Winphone 8 and complete the loop.

  • Jeddd

    I’m extremely surprised at how well I like my Surface. I ended up selling my iPad and MacBook Pro to switch to Win8 devices after getting it. I’m glad I became an early adopter just to use something truly different and new in the market that is what many people want, for a first crack it’s awesome and I’m more excited to see what MS has in store and frankly find products like the iPad boring in comparison.

    It also shows me what type of Apple is becoming when their greatest strength in the tablet space is just the fact that it has lots of apps, which are primarily made by companies other than Apple, show a total complacency from them and I’m glad MS is coming in and trying to do a bit of innovating now. All are good products and now there’s a bit of shake up to move things along. The only losers in this are the retarded fan boys.

  • Tudor M.

    The fact of the matter is that the Surface is a premium tablet. More so than almost every tablet that has come before it and at least on par if not superior than the hardware design and aesthetics of Apple tablets that command so much money.

    The price points match up exactly, the 32GB Surface costs as much as a 16GB iPad, which makes sense since the usable space on the Surface is ~16GB anyway in this configuration.

    If you want the touch cover, it costs $100 more.

    They can’t price it lower because it will undermine what the product stands for. It is the top of the line, it is premium in both design and execution. And it has Office bundled, which is a ~$150 value, if you want to look for savings.

    This review is great because Daniel understands the context in which this device exists. It is a 1.0 device, the software and app support will be improved. However, the important thing to take away is that it is the first real productivity tablet. It lets you replace most, if not all of your other devices with minimal compromise. The software is not anywhere as bad as some reviews have made it out to be and will get even better, but getting it right from a hardware and design perspective is one of the most difficult parts – because many have tried.

  • tommy

    I used the Surface in a Microsoft Store in NYC. The Type Cover is much better than the Touch Cover and worth the extra $30 they were asking for. The surface is really is the best tablet to market right now.

    My Colleague a die hard apple fan actually wanted to check it out so we went into the store & even the Apple Fan boy was thoroughly impressed. Loved the UI kickstand and the Type Cover.

    Go try one out, then post your love or hate for it :)

  • Dagmar Schnietz

    Nice write up. This machine sounds simpler than most, which is a big plus for me. Looking at that chart, I’d buy it.

  • Spamouflage

    I bought one, I use it everyday, and I love it. I’m one happy camper.

  • Keith

    Good review. Just about all its shortcomings will be addressed with the Pro version and that is what I’m waiting for.

  • TP

    ‘Metro UI’

    Be aware, Mobilesyrup.
    Either Metro newspaper or Metro supermarket chain may sue you for using Metro.
    Microsoft dropped that name for the same reason.
    Do you think it’s not likely?
    Well, Apple sued a supermarket in Poland for using a website address that may remind of Apple…which is a common English noun.

  • OMG BASEDGOD TYBG #taskforce

    I would love to see this do well. It has a lot of potential for greatness. Like the review said, it just needs some more time to get there.

  • Aiden

    Nicely written review, and a good thorough analysis of the product. I’d like to see more of these kind of reviews here! I agree with a lot of what the reviewer said, and after playing around with one myself for a bit I have to say that I would seriously consider buying one when I’m in the market for a tablet/laptop. I’m not 100% sold that it would be a better option for me over an Android tablet yet, but it is giving me some serious thought about it, and that’s a great thing!

  • Sam

    I tried the tablet and I think your review is way too generous. It is no way worth 8 out of 10. At the moment it is more like a 6 out of 10 in my opinion

  • John

    I played around with this thing and was very disappointed at how long it takes for some of the apps to open. If it’s slow right from the start, how bad will it be a year from now??

  • Bilal

    Great review! Mirrored my thoughts almost exactly.

  • Bongo

    I’d love to get one, Windows 8 is awesome on my new pc. Would love to get this as well…

  • lip

    I’m not sure what the author is on about regarding the weight…the Ipad weighs in at 1.44 pounds and the surface 1.5 ( 652g for ipad and 676g).
    The surface is thinner than the ipad as well.

    The review is actually pretty good other than that glaring bit of nonsense

  • 17asleep

    I reads the review with great interest until I got to the part about the cbc app. Anybody that conciders cbc as a viable news source is to be second-guessed. Have no idea what to think of the surface now.

  • Fred

    Funny how iSheeps don’t have any good arguments to prove us that the iPad is «better»

  • still no pad for me

    I’ve waited and waited for the surface to be available to just test out but they sure limited sales vendors. For the price I don’t want a slow processor and I want Gmail without having to fight my way around a MS product to get it to work. Microsoft needs to take a look at what people really love out there and bite the bullet on a few apps such as Gmail. Before I spent 600 bucks for a tablet with a keyboard it has to be fast, not crash its apps and have many productive apps that would rival Google. Looks like I would wait for next generation for a better processor for speed, better battery time for certain and Keyboard included. For now I’m one of the many who will just keep using just a lap top that for the money is flush with features that the tablets don’t give you. Something is very very wrong in the pricing structure in that you don’t get much for the money.

  • SARATH GUNASEKARA

    VERY,VERY,VERY NICE! I AM SO MUCH LIKE THAT WONDERFULL MACHINE.

  • Thiago Farroco

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