Surface RT Review

It is all new for Microsoft.  They have entered the computer hardware market.  So what is the product like and should you buy it?  Does the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT have what it takes?

Design

The design of the product is really quite spectacular.  The first thing you’ll notice is the 10.6” Gorilla Glass 2 and the optically bonded 1366x768 HD Display.   Optically bonded produces less glare, which allows the display to easily compete with the higher resolution iPad.  ClearType sub pixel rendering also helps while preserving great looking web graphics.

But the premium feel doesn’t end there.  The device itself is cased in something Microsoft calls VaporMG.  It’s magnesium that finished using a vapor process that mimics the finish of nice watch. You’ll love the feel and low weight this produces.  Even the touch cover has a nice premium feel to it.  Ports include a full USB port, microSDXC, 3.5mm audio, magnetic power, and MicroHDMI.  This really puts it in a class of its own.

And yes you can type on the Touch Cover, even on your lap.  This entire review was typed on a Touch Cover!

Typing on Surface

Software

The Surface RT comes with Windows RT, a subset of Windows 8.  The difference? It can run Windows Store apps but not legacy desktop apps.  Also only about 80% of Windows Store app have been created to run on ARM, the type of processor in the Surface RT.

Otherwise there are no noticeable differences.  I reviewed Windows 8 already and was extremely positive about the OS, especially the future.  Updates have also solved problems I had with the Music and Photos apps.  And the Surface really feels made with Windows RT in mind.

Read the full Windows 8 review here!

Performance

The Surface RT runs on an ARM based Tegra 3 processor clocking 4 cores in at 1.5 GHz.  It has 2GB of RAM.  Is this enough?  Just enough.  As in my Surface RT vs iPad article I talked about how the CPU generally matched the 3rd generation iPad.  But since then the 4th generation has come out leaving the Surface behind.

However, I find the Surface to excel.  Unlike other reviews I didn’t find performance issues.  For one I understand the limitations and that will a full OS you sometimes do close apps just like you would do on Windows 8.  It is very easy to close apps, just drag them down out of the screen.  But even with my usual apps left open (Internet Explorer, Mail, and Messaging), games and other apps ran smoothly.  Sometimes, like when waiting for election results to come in, I did feel like I had opened too many tabs in Internet Explorer.

Negatives

There are some negatives, not hardware wise but in software.  MicroSD cards should easily attach to your libraries.  I hacked this ability.  In addition as stated in my Windows 8 review, the built in Windows RT apps (Mail, Music, Video, etc…) should be expanded in features.  These can all be fixed, the ball is in Microsoft’s court.

Conclusion

Surface

The potential really is there.  It is all about apps and software updates.  But you shouldn’t buy solely based on predictions that may or may not happen.   It is about what exists now.  And in that you have a capable tablet that easily beats anything Android throws it way.  And edges the iPad in terms of features and possible productivity.   The iPad is king of apps, but consider your usage.  Perhaps you are willing to gamble that Windows RT apps will come quickly or perhaps you are patient to get a clearer picture including future devices like the Surface Pro that will run Windows 8 and thus legacy apps.

It replaces a netbook easily with the added benefits of touch and being a tablet.  Most users will find enough apps that even light laptop usage could be replaced with a Surface RT.  It has the potential… to amaze you.  As such, I seriously recommend you consider a Surface RT.  I know it has amazed me.

 

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