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Microsoft Surface RT Review

Posted: , by John V.

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Long before the world saw its first glimpse of Microsoft’s next-generation computing platform, Windows 8, we fathomed in the back of our minds that its tablet-based operating system would follow a path similar to Windows Phone. Well folks, that’s essentially what came to fruition, as Microsoft RT is clearly showing us. To clarify, Windows RT is a new MicrosoftOS for tablets, that’ll be running on ARM-based devices, which are aimed to compete in the same price category as the iPad and 10-inch Android tablets. Conversely, there are going to be pricier Windows 8 (Pro) tablets, which rely on the full Windows 8 experience – also giving support for the legacy Windows apps, while the RT supports only apps developed specially for it. Initially, the interface will come across as alien to most people, but as with all things, comfort and ease begins to settle in after some time with it.

Using the same design language and style that’s plainly evident in Windows Phone, there’s a lot of pizzazz and wonder seen throughout the interface of the Microsoft Surface. Just like in Windows Phone, Windows RT presents us with the Start Screen, which is comprised of dynamic and boxy looking live tiles. Certain ones in fact, provide relevant data – like social networking posts, the weather, temperature, and other notifications. Unlike Windows Phone, however, we like that there’s more personalization found with Windows RT. Not only can we change the lockscreen wallpaper and rearrange the live tiles to our liking, but we can even choose a background wallpaper for the Start Screen, as well changing the color scheme of the live tiles and menu bars themselves.

Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review

Interface of the Microsoft Surface RT


Since it’s a new platform and all, there’s a steep learning curve initially – such as knowing the various gestures in place. Once mastered, we appreciate the functionality they offer in navigating around the platform. These can be accessed at any time and they consist of the following:

  • Swipe inward from the right bezel: Gains access to Share, Search, Devices, and Settings options, in addition to jumping back to the Start Screen.
  • Swipe inward from the left bezel: Quickly jumps between open applications. Essentially, there’s a cool animation that cycles between all opened apps.
  • Swiping inward from the left bezel and then quickly back in the opposite direction: Now this one is tricky, but after a couple of tries, it’s fairly easy to execute. With this gesture, we can actually open up a small pane that displays all the open apps – allowing us to switch to any of them with a tap.
  • Swipe down from the top bezel: Depending on the app, it’ll provide us specific menu actions. For example with Internet Explorer, we’re presented with the address bar, back/forward buttons, and the available tabs.
  • Swipe up from the bottom bezel: In the lock screen, we’re able to unlock the tablet using this gesture. Additionally, it also gives us the same access to the menu options found with the previous gesture.
  • Swipe from the top bezel all the way to the bottom bezel: this one closes out the running app completely.

Navigating around the platform via gestures - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Navigating around the platform via gestures - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Navigating around the platform via gestures - Microsoft Surface RT Review

Navigating around the platform via gestures


Multi-tasking is one of the strengths found with the Surface, since we’re able to split the screen so that it can accommodate two apps simultaneously. Using the gesture that shows us all the running apps, we can select and drag one so that it’ll be positioned next to the one that’s currently on-screen. Once the two are up, there’s a bar that separates them, which can be moved to allow a specific one to take more of the screen than the other. Simply, it’s practical and works well.

We’re able to split the screen so that it can accommodate two apps simultaneously - Microsoft Surface RT Review
We’re able to split the screen so that it can accommodate two apps simultaneously - Microsoft Surface RT Review

We’re able to split the screen so that it can accommodate two apps simultaneously


Interestingly, there’s also the “Desktop” of Windows RT, which is the familiar Windows style UI we’re accustomed to seeing on PCs. However, it’s a bit strange to find on here, especially when Windows RT is trying to move past the legacy interface and differentiating itself. In the desktop, we’re given access to Internet Explorer 10, the File Manager, and the preview suite of software with Microsoft Office 2013.

The Microsoft Surface RT comes with the “Desktop” of Windows RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Microsoft Surface RT comes with the “Desktop” of Windows RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Microsoft Surface RT comes with the “Desktop” of Windows RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Microsoft Surface RT comes with the “Desktop” of Windows RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review

The Microsoft Surface RT comes with the “Desktop” of Windows RT


Indeed, we’re digging the bright colors and stylish appeal of the UI, but in our time checking it out, its execution can comes off as being a bit clunky and buggy. For the most part, navigation is tight and instantaneous, but every now and then, it’s plagued by lock ups and short pauses. Sure, it’s a distraction right now, but we’re certain that future software updates will iron out the kinks. As a whole, we definitely like the jazzy vibe we’re getting with Windows RT, but more importantly, it’s a bridge to potentially get consumers to check out Windows Phone as well – since the two share many similarities, so the transition for them would be seamless.


40 Comments
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posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:58 20

1. mercorp (Posts: 967; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)


This is awesome!

posted on 03 Nov 2012, 10:10

36. Nadr1212 (Posts: 741; Member since: 22 Sep 2012)


Yeah, I'll kinda be waiting to get the 2nd version of this tablet just bcuz I want more of the typical features like delete all emails or search bar on its app store

posted on 11 Nov 2012, 14:24

42. enterthemax (Posts: 7; Member since: 04 Sep 2012)


Are you kidding? Search is the most complete feature in windows RT, and the store DOES have it!!
Delete all emails? What? If you're talking about SELECTING multiple mails and delete them, there is this "feature" too (obviously)...

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:00 17

2. mydi.maus (unregistered)


well this one is the one to be mine,..wishlist..

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:03 13

3. Android4u (Posts: 456; Member since: 16 Aug 2012)


take my money damnit!!!

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:17 3

4. darkvadervip (Posts: 289; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)


What's the megapixel on the pro before version

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:18 6

5. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


You will be able to get a Nexus 10 with FAR better display and processor for less price so..

Still i won't say this isn't a good product per se..but a low res screen is just a no these days

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 11:14 4

11. Eingild (Posts: 203; Member since: 19 Apr 2011)


for far less functionality too.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 11:52 2

15. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Just wait when it gets Android 5 and 6 ;)

Still, you think serious, heavy windows users will pick an RT over the full version?

For the "light ", media, entertainment and internet centric majority Nexus 10 does the job more than fine trust me

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:23 7

16. chaoticrazor (Posts: 2347; Member since: 28 Aug 2012)


well for light use many are gonna go for the ipad, its sad but true.

anyway by the time of android 5 or 6 im sure windows would have evolved too

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:49 1

21. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Well, that is what I have serious doubts about actually..how frequent are major new releases for windows?
Even if they seriously step up their pace, Google is simply in another level of speed with android development.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 21:25

28. Zero0 (Posts: 570; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


What less functionality? The RT is limited to the Windows Store, which has a pretty small selection of apps at this point.

Now, if we were talking about the Pro, that would be a whole different story. The Pro is basically a Microsoft-built, touchscreen laptop.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:22 9

6. Kronic (banned) (Posts: 321; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)


Nexus 10 and ipad 4 blow this out of the water.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:44 11

8. McLTE (Posts: 637; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


depends on your target audience..

I'm looking at either a laptop or pad for my kids for Xmas.. I was going laptop only because there is very little in the Apple and Android tablets for school productivity.. can't easily create word docs, power point presentations.. etc.

This RT tablet COMES with the full blown office suite.. so the kids can do the Pad thing, but also do some school things as well.

Are the screens better on the Nexus 10 and the Ipad.. YES.. will my kids notice? NO.

The most compelling tablet to me is the Surface Pro.. full windows in a tablet.. mmmmmmm

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 10:04 2

9. Kronic (banned) (Posts: 321; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)


iWork exists! And with all due respect tablets are not made for kids.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 10:11 4

10. arsenaljimenez (Posts: 137; Member since: 03 May 2012)


And what is the ipad for then? Games, for kids.
its not good enough for anything else, when I see people using it at school they mostly use that notepad
give me a breakk
get yourself an actuall laptop, or a surface, just as good

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:46 1

19. Kronic (banned) (Posts: 321; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)


You don't own it and so you don't know how capable it is.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:50 4

22. haseebzahid (Posts: 1801; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


well indead Pro version is all the way better then any thing known as tablet to date if u dont agree u dont know what pro version is

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 21:26 1

29. Zero0 (Posts: 570; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


So I presume that you own a Surface?

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:49 2

20. haseebzahid (Posts: 1801; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


lol u are so corecct ipad seems like a toy nothing else

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 14:01 2

24. btdvox (Posts: 1; Member since: 31 Oct 2012)


Your kidding right? I know your an apple fanboy but iWork is the worst office like program out there and pages, keynote and numbers suck butt.

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 00:56

30. Kronic (banned) (Posts: 321; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)


I use them on a daily basis so I know just how awesome they are.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 11:22

12. TrainFromUkraine (Posts: 63; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


You may want to consider Dell RT tablet for your kids. It can be purchased with a keyboard dock that has actual keyboard/touchpad plus a secondary battery.

posted on 03 Nov 2012, 20:11

37. okiwa002 (Posts: 3; Member since: 09 May 2011)


You could put Polaris Office on your Android based tablet to create M$ Office-compatible documents/presentations.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:32 1

17. Whodaboss (Posts: 176; Member since: 18 Nov 2011)


So, you're telling me you own a Nexus 10, an iPad 4, and a Surface therefore you know which one is better? I think that's what I understand you to be stating when you mention "Nexus 10 and iPad 4 blow this out of the water." You have first hand knowledge? Hmm... must be nice.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:37 2

18. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


dont mind taco... a troll will be a troll.

I will revisit when they get a software update or 2. I have some hopes for the platform, but they need to light a fire under it, especially with Goog really stepping up the nexus game.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:22 4

7. snowgator (Posts: 3187; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Nice review. The Surface is a ground floor, start the ball rolling device. I would sure suggest waiting until other Windows tablets are on the market before jumping on one. But, it is nice to see the general decent (though not glowing) reviews on the Surface.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 11:38 2

13. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1044; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


Thank you for not listing "no legacy apps" as a con since this is a TABLET at the end of a day. Good review.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 11:49 1

14. ahhxd717 (Posts: 316; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)


Good review. I think that once windows 8 becomes standard, the lack of apps will be less of an issue, and with software updates, the tablet will run better. I think this is a great start for Microsoft, they just need developer support and consumer support to make those the ultimate ARM tablet that can fully compete with others.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 12:51

23. downphoenix (Posts: 2266; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


Disappointing that Flash doesnt work in the Modern UI version of IE. I mean, it makes sense on this tablet, since it is more basic. However, in the DESKTOP version of Windows 8, on the same modern UI, it doesnt either. Very troubling that Microsoft went this route. Hopefully its just an oversight on Adobe's part for not supporting it yet, otherwise...

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 11:26

34. -box- (Posts: 3708; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


With the widespread adoption/deployment of Silverlight and HTML5, Flash is less and less necessary. I'm sure there'll be a way to install it on the desktop version eventually

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 14:56 1

25. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


My own review will be worth more than any of these early reviews. I you have to use the surface at least a month or so to get to all w8 functionalities before posting any reviews.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 18:30 1

26. LeoChase (Posts: 1; Member since: 31 Oct 2012)


John V., the share charm is available and you can share your photos through that charm. You can even share links and html5-based youtube videos through that share charm...

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 18:34

27. DatabaseMX (Posts: 19; Member since: 27 May 2009)


Exactly what problem does this device solve ?
===

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 03:37 1

31. AeroPrime (Posts: 145; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)


I want the Surface Pro

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 05:48

32. darkknight (Posts: 9; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)


Well, I am not a tablet man, tablets are always and almost a mobile with large screen and no calling apportunity. I prefer much more laptops spec ultrabooks, But with microsoft I hope they will change my mind in the next edition ;=).

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 09:34

33. frydaexiii (Posts: 1176; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


I've heard from my friend that it's pretty bad...few app choices, unresponsive at times, for now maybe the RT isn't the best choice...

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 12:45

35. _Bone_ (Posts: 2104; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Must say it looks pretty good, but at ~720p to start at $500 where the 32GB 1600p Nexus 10 sits it's no contest for the Samsung device. I'ma buy the $400 N10 surely, it's a stunning offer.

posted on 05 Nov 2012, 14:49

39. Spence (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Nov 2012)


As beautiful as this machine is when you first see it, there are a few very serious problems when it comes to normal use.

1) Hard to hold and heavy when holding it in the wide format
2) Ships with IE 10. IE 10 no longer supports Java. Or Flash. Or any other similar add-ons. That's very serious. Being unable to connect to high security websites makes this a dead machine. Might as well be using an iPad instead. It's lighter and generally better behaved.
3) The Microsoft Store is a misery to "walk" through. Everything is in very broad categories, and then when you access the category then you find a disordered jumble of apps. AND there is no Search Tool. It's a misery to sift through nearly a hundred apps looking for something.

Basically, Windows 8 / 8 RT is a disaster. They need to allow for IE9 if it is to survive as a meaningful and useful product.

As of now with IE 10, it's literally worthless.

posted on 06 Dec 2013, 14:36

43. techadd (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)


I have to say that if you are a MAC brained, nothing is going to change your perception, why bother. however if you are open enough and smart enough this win 8.1 is not a useless big phone to browse the web.

The surface has a lot of advantages over the other big iphones. the first one is that you can replace a computer with it. Just add the keyboard and there you go. It has USB port that it a great advantage and the device comes with Office software for free.

I highly recommend it as the best value for money.

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Display10.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels (148 ppi)
Camera1 megapixel
Hardware
NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30, Quad core, 1300 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
2048 MB RAM
Size10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37 inches
(275 x 172 x 9 mm)
24.00 oz  (680 g)

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