The Microsoft Surface RT: First Impressions

The Microsoft Surface RT: First Impressions 1

Let me start this article with one word, Wow! Wow!! The Microsoft Surface is truly mind-blowing. Whoever is responsible for Microsoft’s renaissance is worthy of a couple of awards. 

Very few people know how hard it is it build a device and get someone else’s operating system to run on it. I do. My work with PlirisMobile gives me unique perspective. It is clear that Microsoft just got tired of the OEMS screwing things up and built their own device. 

Microsoft Surface

Please do not assume a bias. I own 2 iPads and a Nexus 7. I have owned a ZTE Blade, a 32 and 64GB Playbook, an Acer Tablet, 3 Asus Transformers, 1 Galaxy Tab, some other weird tablets, and have tested both the Vantium and the Inye. I also bought the HP Touchpad, and still own a limited edition Palm Pre 3UK GSM version. So I am no stranger to new devices and weird OSes.
 
Remember the tablets from HP and Dell PCs running some tablet PC version of windows? Forget them quickly. Remember how Microsoft promised us heaven with the Nokia 900 and then yanked out the carpet under our feet by saying it wouldn’t support Windows Phone 8? I know all these things and after using the Surface for just one day, I have forgiven but not forgotten. This tablet is very good.

Mister Mobility asks: How is the Audio?

I got 100 USD worth Windows XBOX music pass free as a compensation for my upset in the ordering process. This is their attempt at iTunes functionality. It is good, Music app takes some getting used to though. The audio production is very good, I don’t remember if it is better than the Playbook’s but it is much better than the HP Touchpad.  

Interface

If you are a geek then you will just get it. If you are not you will need to learn it. But truth be told. People will. If you have never had a tablet, this is the one to get. If you hate Android and iOS then this might be your poison. 

Surface Tiles

I got my device after a disappointing online order process and my friend helped me to sort out the purchase and shipping, even much faster than Microsoft could have in their remedial system. 

Notable Features

 
Keyboard
Here are some simple things that will blow your mind:

  • SkyDrive!!!! I created this post in Microsoft Word on the Surface, saved it in My Documents, opened SkyDrive, uploaded it, and completed the Edit in the Microsoft Word Web App
  • Microsoft Office 2013 
  • If you have used your windows live account on a windows 8 machine. Once you login most of your settings transfer right across.
  • Skype is now truly amazing. It merges your Skype Contacts with your live contacts. Don’t complain; its all one company anyway.
  • The People app is also very good, giving you all your contacts from various services together. Even the ones from Twitter.
  • Battery life is amazing. I haven’t charged it in 2 Days, with Moderate use and still have about 50% power (this is not a thorough test)
  • Keyboard covers? Stroke of genius. Yes; you can get iPad keyboards, but not made by Apple that work automagically.
  • The live tiles are good. It works as advertised. I don’t want to do an OS review but just to say this is Windows 8’s perfect home 

Concerns: Things, I am immediately unhappy about?

 
The Microsoft Surface RT: First Impressions 3

  • Microsoft Office no Outlook 
  • I tweet mainly from my PC, and Metrotwit is my app of choice. The Windows 8 version. Not so much.
  • 32 GB actually means 24 GB with 17 GB free.
  • Apps are few, reminiscent of the Playbook and the Touchpad, in this case though, the device’s Dad is rich. No matter how much you hate the corporation, everybody is at home building or porting an app for this right now. I am already imagining a port of our Pliris Texty app to this.

Cyril Hardchild is going to ask me some questions, so I will answer them below. 

  • Is this device good? Yes 
  • Could this device be better? Yes.  
  • Is this better than the iPad? I think so 
  • Will it sell like the iPad? No, its not sexy enough. 

That’s my 50 kobo first impressions.

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10 comments

  1. Microsoft is obviously retracing their steps and at the same time, coming out with a better offering. I daresay, much better than any of their OEMs have been giving their OS credence for quite a long time.

    For now, the Surface looks great, but with time and after a lot of third party reviews, I bet some flaws would definitely reveal their ugly heads. But then, the tablet is a great offering. Even then, I’m not sure if I’d like the Metro UI. It has never been m thing.

    Only time will tell. However, I wouldn’t be a first adopter!

  2. Hmm. That excitement up there is quite infectious.

    But, I am striving to remain calm and unimpressed.

    I have learnt that in the Tech World, hardware and software get outdated and outclassed in in a matter of WEEKs.

    I do not want any laryngeal problems from shouting WOW WOW every few weeks!

    If you hate Android and iOS then this might be your poison.

    Hmm. ME ke?

    Yes; you can get iPad keyboards, but not made by Apple that work automaGically.

    lol,.. This is the Age of litigation . I suggest we get permission from the owners before using a word like “autoMAGIC” o.

  3. A good first impression. A little disappointed with the number item on your list of what is supposed to blow our mind. This cloud thing has been around for some time now and I don’t think people are that excited about it not talk of including it in the list of things to blow our minds.

    No way. That item should be scratched from the list. It is not such an exciting feature. Thanks.

  4. I’m sorry to say, but going by this review Microsoft has failed to come up wit anything spectacular 2 wow d teeming number of tablet users & enthusiasts worldwide. In my opinion, d main factor determining d success of any tech device is d wealth of apps needed to make it of any use to d owner; coming a close second is d ability of d device interface to be customized & communicate seamlessly wit other devices, these are where Apple & Android respectively hav focused their strengths. It is when u hav too much apps dat customers will start complaining about storage space, processor capabilities, and other hardware specs.

    I fear d surface will become another brick @ d bottom of someone’s waste-pile if they dnt do something about d true useability of this device. Correct me if i’m wrong but d success of Windows vs Mac was borne upon d wings of numerous software offerings & customizability/tweakability, something dat d Android OS is replicating in d Tablet-verse. I love Microsoft…as long as they keep giving me a good & affordable products, but i’m not a fanatic & i sure as hell aint gonna buy a slate wit good money when all i do wit it is consume media & occasionally wedge my door wit it. :/ *Jst my opinion rly*

  5. @Mr. Mo

    1. What processor did you go for arm based or x86(core i5). If its arm based then it might explain the 2 day and counting battery life but if its x86 then MS has carried out a kind of magic.
    2. How did you ship it to Nigeria, through a 3rd party or direct to your home using a Nigerian debit card? (Full detail)
    3. How thin is the tablet with the keyboard attached and detached (use every day object to describe like a pencil or 3 one naira

  6. @johnny_babangida:

    Microsoft Surface tablets based on Intel’s processors are not available yet. Evey Surface tablets in offer presently are ARM based. Those based on Intel’s processors would become available from next year.

  7. Sorry Mr. Mo, I assumed it was you who wrote the article

    The questions go out to PlirisMobile
    1. Harry Echemco answered this one.

    2. How did you ship it to Nigeria, through a 3rd party or direct to home using a Nigerian debit card?

    3. How thin is the tablet with the keyboard attached and detached (use every day object to describe like a pencil or one naira coin)

  8. This looks very cool and from the review sounds intriguing. Have never used a tab before cause I haven’t seen the need for one yet but I might just get one of this or better still wait for the pro coming out next year.

  9. Hello ALl,

    Answering comments in order

    @Eye_bee_Kay Only rich people are afraid of being sued 😀

    @Harry Echemco, I agree its an old feature for geeks, but most tablet users are not geeks, ask the person sitting beside you right now if he has any stuff in Dropbox.

    @Johnny_Babangida The best solution, is to find someone travelling and visiting the US or the UK, have them walk into a Microsoft Store and pick it up for you. Their order process leaves a lot to be desired.

    There is a lot of talk about Nigerian availablity but nothing firm yet

    IN tems of size without the keyboard, its slimmer than a blackberry 9900 and a Nexus 7. with the Keyboard its like a millimeter thicker,sorry no coins or pencils available.

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