Microsoft Surface

Published on January 27th, 2013 | by Xalaga

5

Surface Review

Surface Review Xalaga
Value
Durability
Screen responsiveness
Battery Life

Summary: When innovation and portability love each other very, very much, they make a Surface.

4.9

You want one!


After an absence in the phone and tablet market, Microsoft decide to come back with a bang. First the introduction of the new Windows 8 phones, and now the Surface. The tablet market has been pretty open to any company and we have seen them from Apple, Toshiba, Asus, HP, HTC, mostly running their own OS (HP and Apple) or Android. Microsoft decides not to just put any tablet out, but a tablet that will make you think twice or three times on what you are about to buy or what you already had.

So why a Surface? Cause it’s cool looking, right? Like many of you I watched the commercial and when the device was released I toyed with the idea of getting one, but I came to a screeching halt when I saw the price. It was not a simple compulsive purchase type of item like it was with other devices. I could convince myself out of $250.00,  but  $600.00? I need far more convincing  than just “it looks cool.”

So then I saw the commercial:

I actually said out loud “Huh?!  Well done Microsoft.” I was not bombarded by facts, or some sort of song that I would hate latter. It was simple, with a catchy tune, and it gave me enough to be curious about the device that I wanted to find out more about it. Which I did. The commercial reminded me of the original Apple commercial for iPod:

Simpler times :)

I researched the Surface and kept getting bombarded by articles complaining about Windows 8 and how Windows 8 applications does not work with the Surface, because the Surface is Windows RT and RT is not 8 but it looks like 8 and…..[insert white noise here]. Overwhelming to say the least. Especially since I didn’t understand the difference between 8 and RT at the time.

Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT can be simply explained by comparing it to the iTouch and Mac. They both run some sort of iOS, but they are not compatible with each other. Windows 8 RT is the tablet version of Windows 8. Simple right? Apparently not, since many seem to think that they should be able to install Windows programs to it. To me that is an amusing notion since app’s bought for iPad can not be install on a Mac device. Some programs will offer the app version as free, with a discount if you own the Mac version, or flat out ask you to purchase the app at full price if you want to also run your program on the iPad. So why, I ask myself, is this considered to be a downside to Surface?

Surface geek link keyboardBottom line, Surface is a great tablet. Most people forget that is a tablet since it tends to look like a laptop with the keyboard attached and the kick stand. Trust me when I say that Surface is a tablet. Complete with  its own market place and apps that you can purchase. I think most of the backlash I have seen comes from the poor naming convention. “If it runs Windows 8…why can’t I install Windows 8 programs?” Well…because it’s Windows 8 RT and you can’t install tablet software on a PC. At least not at this time.

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… it should be a duck right? Not in the case of the Surface. It runs Windows like a PC, it’s fast(er) like a PC, it has a keyboard like a PC… but it’s not a PC or a Laptop. It is a tablet and as a tablet is probably one of the best on the market at this time. It blows the iPad, and any other you can think off, out of the water. It is easy to use and Windows 8 was really built around a touch screen, which makes Windows 8 RT very easy to use and navigate. After a few hours, I found that the whole system was rather easy and the learning curve was not steep at all. As soon as I turned my Surface on, and updated a ton of stuff, I realized that my Printer was already synced to my tablet. I quickly found one of my documents and sent it to print wirelessly, which it did. I didn’t have to do anything! I never wanted to be back in school so much until that moment. Can you imagine? Toss backpack on the floor, take shoes off, click print on your surface, and by the time you get to the printer your research paper is already printed! Surface is definitely a system for the person on the go since it is super light and the keyboard doubles as a case protecting your screen. As a heavy user, battery life is very important and I was surprised at to how much I could play with the Surface without having to run for the charger. Compared to my Nexus 7 that can do 9 hrs of HD video playback or 10 hrs of web or 300 hrs of standby time, the Surface can do between 8 hrs of mixed activity and 168 to 360 hrs standby time. Being that the Nexus 7 has a 7” screen and the Surface is a 10.6”, it can be just as good or even a bit better than the Nexus, makes it that much more appealing. You won’t sacrifice battery life by going a bit bigger.

The touch screen has to be made out of fairies and unicorns! It’s so responsive that when playing or drawing on the tablet, the results are outstanding. I forget that I’m not using a pencil, and I don’t feel like my finger is just this clunky thing that can not interpret what I am trying to do. The screen keyboard has three possible settings: keyboard, writing keyboard and thumb keyboard. Writing anything without a capacity pen worked very nicely and the software recognised what i was writing, even though I didn’t print the letters but wrote cursive.

Surface geek link kickstandThe only things I found as a downside to the Surface is the marketplace and the hard drive space. I must also say that I am been very, very nit picky. So to be fair, the device was just released and just like any other new releases ( I’m looking at you Android devices) the market place is always going to be anemic at best. There are tons of apps and a lot of them cost money, like any other market place, but finding the $0.99 app is rather rare. Most games that you are used to playing on all other devices (Angry Birds, Where is my Water?, Where’s my Perry? and Fruit Ninja) are already available, and some of those have been free or were free for the early Surface adopters. It has the nice addition that some of the games that communicate with Xbox, so playing Minesweeper will give you achievements for your Xbox live account; making it super fun to revisit some of the old Microsoft games like Solitaire and Mahjong.

If you are more into watching movies with your portable device, fear not. Netflix has a wonderful app, that works like a champ, with the Surface. It’s fast and easy to navigate, giving the tile look an actual reason for being used. Hulu, Amazon and Crunchyroll do not have apps, but I have been able to watch all of them through the browser. Being able to go to a website and watch Youtube or Hulu has liberated me from depending on applications to run them, and free so much needed hard drive space. No longer do I have to download a Facebook app, that often times crashes or are frustrating to use, when I can just go to the site.

Surface keyboard coverWhich takes me to my second Surface problem…the space. The one I currently own has a 32g HD, but 16g’s of those are Windows 8 RT. Space can be a problem. At first I thought I was screwed and had to pick and chose what to install, but then I discover that Surface has a Micro SD port that I could load a 64g card in and my problems would be solved. Sadly, at the time of this review it is not as easy to plug and play, but instead you have to have some knowledge of how computers work to make it happen. There are a few “How To’s” on the internet that you can follow, thus giving your Surface  a ton of space for you to play and mess with. As you can see, I don’t have much of a negative against the system. If having a Windows tablet is what you are looking for with an Nvidia Tegra based chip, weighing in at 676 grams, and only 9.3 millimeters, this is what you are looking for. If you want a thin laptop, but with an Intel core, weighing in at 903 grams and much thicker at 13.5 millimeters, then the Surface Pro is for you.

The Surface is an amazing device that for some reason it has gotten a huge backlash from the community without really looking at it for what it is. As a tablet the device is magnificent and does far more than most tablets can do, with an amazing and super responsive touch screen, USB port and mini SD to expand the memory of your device, it’s far better than any other tablet on the market. I was on the fence, but playing with and owning a Surface has actually made me a believer, an advocate, and a fan of the device. I can only hope to play with the Pro once it comes out. So is it worth the price after all? I think so. I am definitely a heavy user who not only searches the internet and get emails, but I have to have something that I can take to conventions like E3 or /and Pax that is not going to crap out on me. It has to have space for anything, that is snappy and fast when I am in the middle of a conference, and that will be my entertainment when I’m stuck waiting for the next interview appoint. It must also be able to have the battery life to support my demands and make me a cappuccino damn it! The Surface is able to do that and perhaps more, as i feel that I have only broken the surface of the device (pun not intended). Now…I just need to figure out where is the Cappuccino button..?

Suburgatory Surface Episode or how marketing has no shame >_>

 

For more on the Surface you can visit Microsoft: Surface RT

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About the Author

Founder & CEO of GeekLinkRadio.com. I like to be a hero in a world of 1's and 0's. A computer programmer by day and a gaming journalist by night, I spend most of my time dedicated to everything videogame. From teaching a college level class in videogame history to being part of "Portland's Ignite" speaking about girls in gaming, there is little time where I don't do some sort of videogame related activity. Now I spend my down time dedicated to The Geek Link where I'm a writer, a Web Master, and I am one of the creators and co-hosts of The Geek Link Podcast.



5 Responses to Surface Review

  1. sebastian says:

    I really dig the surface rt. I gave it to my wife for christmas and she loves it as well, though she uses it and her ipad pretty much equally.

    As for me, I’m waiting for the surface pro.

    • smikey1123 says:

      I am looking forward to getting my hands on a pro myself, though it will be a while after launch before I can. This just makes the impatient part of me want to get a RT earlier.

    • xalaga says:

      I really want to put the Pro trough the proverbial Gaunlet! I am hoping someone near me gets one so I can borrow it. Let us know what you think of the Pro when you get it! you can leave us a comment or send us an email at Geeklink@geeklinkradio.com

  2. Usually I do not learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice post.

    • xalaga says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Im glad you liked it and hopefully you’ll get to play with the Surface soon. If you do start bloggin, let us know! We love to read blogs as well >_<

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