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Surface RT Review

Surface RT Review

Surface RT Review

Okay, I’ve gone crazy. I actually stood in line opening day to buy a Surface RT!

I must say I’m in love. I bought the 64GB model with the touch cover. I even took my craziness a step further and left my laptop at home while I took a week long trip to Las Vegas for the SEMA auto show. I am happy to report I did not have the slightest urge to borrow my wife’s laptop for anything. I used the Surface to answer emails, make forum posts, and fix work issues. I even remoted into my office machine (in Oklahoma) to use SQL Management Studio to troubleshoot an issue on one of our customer sites AccreditationNow.com. All this was done flawlessly. Below, I’ll list my breakdown of random things about the Surface. Then I’ll give you my PROs and CONs list.

The Touch Cover

The touch cover is thin and uses pressure-sensitive keys somewhat like a foldable keyboard. The keyboard works great. It takes a little bit to get used to the idea that you don’t have to push very hard. It also took time to get the alignment of the keys down. However, once you adjust to it, it works great. Also, unlike my laptop, I don’t find myself hitting the touch pad and moving the mouse all over the place. I do not know if this is the software knowing I don’t mean to or the placement of the touch pad.

The Kickstand

The kickstand is a great addition. If you have the nifty folding iPad cover on your iPad, you get a sort of kick stand in portrait mode, but if you are watching a movie or anything more suited for landscape, you have no alternative.

The Surface’s kickstand is at what seems to be the perfect angle. It sits on my lap just fine, and I can use it like a laptop if I want to. Using it this way is by no means excellent, but it is doable. Plus it’s light enough that I can sit on the couch with it like that through several TV shows while tinkering away without issue on message boards or writing emails.

The Software

For some reason, it is surprising how well the new OS is. It shouldn’t be. Microsoft has been making software for over 30 years, so they have some experience in this area.

At first glance, I was like everyone else wondering how I would live without a start button and what this new tile interface was. Technically, people using an Xbox have been seeing this interface for quite a while.

There are four gestures you simply must get used to right away.

When holding the device in landscape with a hand on each side, swipe your thumb from the right side to bring up the charms bar. This bar has search, settings, start, share and devices buttons.

  • searches the current application if possible or the entire machine.
  • gives you all the sharing options to share what you’re looking at with friends.
  • takes you back to the start screen.
  • lets you duplicate the screen to any attached display like a projector.
  • lets you see the settings or options for the application you are in.

Swipe your left thumb over from the left and you can easily switch through applications that are currently open. Bring your thumb back but not off the screen, and a tile display of all applications opens up so you can pick one.

Swipe a finger from the top down to the bottom, and the app you are in closes. Yeah, it closes, not hides until you manually close it later!

Then we have multitasking like no one else has done before. Not only does the OS seamlessly multitask, it lets you split the screen between apps. I had firsthand experience enjoying this when I was emailed a security update for vBulletin saying there was a YUI exploit and that I needed to do steps 1 through 6. I simply slid the email client over to the left and opened up IE on the right, followed the instructions, and fixed the bug in two forums we maintain for our customers.

So overall I’m extremely happy with my purchase, and I don’t feel bad about ditching my Galaxy Tab 8.9 at all. Now for the pros and cons list:

CONS

I cannot run native x86 apps on the Surface RT. I knew this going into it, but it really sucks. My desktop and my tablet look and function the same now except that programs like Management Studio or Visual Studio simply won’t run. I have to remote into another machine to accomplish that stuff. Granted I don’t need or want to do that stuff on my little tablet all the time, but it would be nice to be able to without being forced to remote in.

The app store is limited on apps. There are tons of apps, and overall there are plenty to sift through. However there are not as many as the Google Play store or Apple’s App store.

It is somewhat heavy. I’ve been saying the iPad 3 is a joke because it’s thicker and heavier than our iPad 2, and the ‘upgrades’ make no real difference to the average person. All the Apple fans took the increases and didn’t even remember the original goal of the iPad to be the thinnest, lightest it could be. So Microsoft rolled with it, and this thing is a tad bit heavier than the iPad 3. Compared to the iPad 2, it’s night and day, and you think, ‘Wow, that is heavy’ Compare it to the iPad 3, and you don’t really even notice a difference unless you want to be picky.

Randomly, the keyboard did not work when I wanted to use it. I had to unplug it and re-attach it before it would come back to life. Only happened twice, but it did happen.

The charging port is at an angle which makes plugging the magnetic adapter to it a bit of a skill versus the entire goal of a magnetic adapter to make attaching easy. This thing would have been better if it were a simple USB style connector. HOWEVER, being magnetic means it won’t break if it’s ripped off, and that must be the only real goal of this connector in Microsoft’s mind.

PROS

I can do anything on it I can do on my desktop. I have a mouse and a full keyboard. It’s truly liberating versus your average tablet. You just don’t realize how much you miss being able to actually DO something versus just read the web.

The app store has an efficient layout and is easy to use. All the primary apps I like to use such as news360, Newegg, or Kindle are there ready to go. Even the more popular apps like Angry Birds, Skype, Epicurious, Netflix, Hulu, WeatherBug and the list goes on. No shortage of really big name apps we all need.

The other app stores having 250,000 apps means there are thousands upon thousands of apps I never even knew existed, so there is a perk to an app store that has a limited number of apps.

It comes with a pretty complete version of Office. There are some limitations, like the use of Macros and what not, but for your average user, this is a sweet deal. Office alone is half the price of the machine.

It lasts on the battery ALL DAY just like they said. No matter what I did with this thing, I played games, watched Netflix, worked, and it never ran out of juice. Today I didn’t use it much at all; I just read the news this morning, and it sat on my desk all day until I needed to reference something. It is still sitting at 94% battery life.

If you push it hard with games, it doesn’t get hot like other devices. I’ve never felt it get warm.

It has a USB port! I’ve already plugged my flash drive in a couple times to copy music and files to it. You can utilize the port like any other USB port and plug just about anything into it, and Windows has drivers.

It finds ALL the printers and devices on my network like a normal windows machine, and I can actually use them! Unlike Android and Apple which pick and choose which devices you can access or print to, this device lets you do what you want just like you can on your normal Windows desktop.

The cameras have a little LED to let you know when they are on. This is small, and it has been like that on desktops for years. However all my phones and tablets, whether Android or Apple just forgot that touch. I never know if anyone is accessing the camera. The Surface let me have my privacy back.

Speaking of privacy, the Surface has cookie tracking turned off by default. It has EVERYTHING in the privacy section turned off by default. Microsoft took note and chose to let the user decide what information they track.

Skydrive, contacts, email integration is excellent. Everything just simply works. By utilizing my Microsoft account, it automatically imported things like my desktop background from my desktop and my Wi-Fi settings from my laptop, so I didn’t have to re-enter all that. This can easily be turned off via your Microsoft Live account though, so don’t worry if you don’t like it.

Source: Skynet Solutions

Author: Jed Parmenter