Saturday, November 3, 2012 8:33 AM
I didn’t go to Build last week, opted to stay home and go trick-or-treating with my daughters instead. I had many friends that did go however, and I was able to catch up with James Chambers last night to hear about the conference and play with his Surface RT and Nokia 920 WP8 devices.
I’ve been using Windows 8 for a while now, so I’m not going to comment on OS features – lots of posts out there on that already. Let me instead comment on the hardware itself.
Size and Weight
The size of the tablet was awesome. The Windows 8 tablet I’m using to reference this against is the one from Build 2011 (Samsung model) we received as well as my iPad. The Surface RT was taller and slightly heavier than the iPad, but smaller and lighter than the Samsung Win 8 tablet. I still don’t prefer the default wide-screen format, but the Surface RT is much more usable even when holding it by the long edge than the Samsung.
No issues with the build quality, it seemed very solid. But…y’know, people have been going on about how the Surface RT materials are so much better than the plastic feeling models Samsung and others put out. I didn’t really notice *that* much difference in that regard with the Surface RT.
Interesting feature I didn’t expect – the Windows button on the device is touch-sensitive, not a mechanical one. I didn’t try video or anything, so I can’t comment on the media experience.
The kickstand is a great feature, and the way the Surface RT connects to the combo case/keyboard touchcover is very slick while being incredibly simple.
What About That Touch Cover Keyboard?
So first, kudos to Microsoft on the touch cover! This thing was insanely responsive (including the trackpad) and really delivered on the thinness I was expecting. With that said, and remember this is with very limited use, I would probably go with the Type Cover instead of the Touch Cover.
The difference is buttons. The Touch Cover doesn’t actually have “buttons” on the keyboard – hence why its a “touch” cover. You tap on a key to type it. James tells me after a while you get used to it and you can type very fast. For me, I just prefer the tactile feeling of a button being pressed/depressed. But still – typing on the touch case worked very well.
Would I Buy One?
So after playing with it, did I cry out in envy and rage that I wasn’t able to get one of these machines? Did I curse my decision to collect Halloween candy with my kids instead of being at Build getting hardware? Well – no.
Even with the keyboard, the Surface RT is not a business laptop replacement device. While Office does come included, you can’t install any other applications outside of Windows Store Apps. This might be limiting depending on what other applications you need to have available on your computer.
Surface RT is a great personal computing device, as long as you’re not already invested in a competing ecosystem. I’ve heard people make statements that they’re going to replace all the iPads in their homes with Surface tablets. In my home, that’s not feasible – my wife and daughters have amassed quite a collection of games via iTunes. We also buy all our music via iTunes as well, so even with the XBox streaming music service now available we’re still tied quite tightly to iTunes.
So who is the Surface RT for? In my mind, if you’re looking for a solid, compact device that provides basic business functionality (read: email) or if you have someone that needs a very simple to use computer for email, web browsing, etc., then Surface RT is a great option.
For me, I’m waiting on the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro and am curious to see what changes the Surface Pro will come with.