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The Surface RT

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Technical Articles (Views: 2320)
Time does slip by between blogs, but probably good in my opinion for this one. Today, I have some things to write about regarding the Microsoft Surface. Pro or RT you ask? This is a 2 part, starting with RT. As a disclaimer, I do own both devices.

The Windows 8 RT based Surface is the first release from Microsoft into the "small form" and tablet market. It's not a PC or laptop, and isn't intended to be. It's not a phone, since it doesn't make calls. I'd say it's similar to the iPad in that it's got the hint of a giant phone with one difference. Apple iOS is the same OS being run on iPhones and iPads, whereas the RT is the same OS running on the tablet, and potentially the same as the desktop.

For the average user, the Surface RT is probably good enough if they are looking for a general device which can get online, check emails, browse the web, and play some native Win8 apps. It does have a specific version of Office for RT, but it is missing some very distinct things, namely Outlook.

I guess at this point the question is, which do I list first, likes or dislikes. Since I do overall like this device, I'll start with likes. What is right about this device?

- Microsoft attempted to be something it's never been to the average consumer, which is cool. How is this a like? It's a like because they developed a device that a consumer can be familiar with, but acceptable as a low end business device. They made this cool to the productivity minded.
- It's very capable of functioning as a low end desktop, hook up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to the device, and you have something. Traveling? Bounce it off a big screen TV in the hotel with the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse across the room.
- One of the things that royally sucks about Windows Phone was finally rectified in Windows 8, RT and Pro. When playing a game, many offer the ability to sync your profile. Why is this good? Well, you can uninstall and reinstall a game (usually because they aren't designed or developed worth a crap) without losing your game save data. It also helps when you can move between your RT and Pro devices, picking up where you left off.
- The Keyboard snap concept and its self powering nature are very well thought out. Although I am not a fan of the Touch Cover, I am a fan of the Type Cover. It attaches and detaches more than easily and folds back nicely. The OS and hardare can easily detect its position and use/not use it when needed.
- The device is fairly responsive. There is a rumored registry hack to make the device even more responsive to touch, although I've heard mixed stories that a lot of problems begin from this.
- You can't kill the battery in this device. It really has a long life, and capable of running for quite some time.
- Adding SDXC and USB 2.0 support in V1 was a definate slap in the face to Apple, kind of like it. Apple deserved it for not listening to the constant whining of their customers.

But, the bads..
- It's a confusing OS. Microsoft says it will run Windows 8 apps, which to many means this "UI formerly known as Metro". When people see the desktop, they think they can install other x86 or x64 apps, which is not the case. I personally think they should have locked the desktop out of RT to avoid confusion. Wait, Office still isn't a native Win8 app.
- Be careful of the marketing Kool-Aid. If the purpose of a restore is to bring everything back to the exact state it was last left in during the last backup. Skydrive doesn't sync natively with RT, folks. Neither do any of your apps just reinstall magically.
- Microsoft let rumors swirl uncontrollably about the price point for this device. Rumors of a $199 device sounded great, and Microsoft thought it was great press. However, in my travels, most people still have iPads, maybe because competing with Apple doesn't mean at their price point. The iPad is a great device, but horribly overpriced.
- Before you travel with this device, make sure to test the features in Airplane mode, because it is apparent Microsoft sure didn't. Personally, I believe that this device is close to worthless offline. One such example was that I had copied many music files to my device, and for some reason I couldn't just select and play them without Xbox Live being connected. It would be fun for a Microsoft employee touting how great this is in a demo, oh wait - anyone remember Windows 98 and its epic blue screen of death?

Overall, this is a device with potential. Once it matures and the price point drops a little, I think it has a legitimate shot at making a serious dent in Apple's iPad. However, there is still a matter of many low priced Android tablets that have taken off as well, also the Kindle. The RT doesn't compete at this level, however is far more productive.


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