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Microsoft Surface RT Review

Microsoft Surface RT

Posted: , posted by John V.

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Camera:

Since we’re talking about a tablet here, we’ll reiterate it again that we’re not too keen when it comes to snapping photos with them – mainly because its size doesn’t make it convenient. Nonetheless, if it’s the only thing around, we’re certain that some people would be willing to use it.

With the camera UI, it’s barebones as it can get, since the majority of the real estate is made for the viewfinder. However, there are a few icons perched towards the lower right hand corner that allow us to change the camera, go into video, set a timer, and access the options menu. In order to snap a shot, all you need to do is tap anywhere on the screen – and just like Windows Phone, we can quickly access the camera roll by swiping to the right. Camera aficionados, you’ll be horrified with its zero shooting modes and manual settings!

Camera interface - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Camera interface - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Camera interface - Microsoft Surface RT Review

Before snapping our first pictures, we were already prepping ourselves with the quality of its 1-megapixel rear camera. First and foremost, the camera itself is placed on an awkward angle, which requires some adjustment on our part to get the shot we want. So how’d they come out? Fittingly, they’re nothing worth boasting about, since fine details are pretty much out the door. To its credit, though, the overall shots are tolerable enough for a tablet, since it has a neutral color reproduction and balanced exposure, but when pitted against the quality put out by smartphones, they’re terrible.

Camera samples show with the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Camera samples show with the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Camera samples show with the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Camera samples show with the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Camera samples show with the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Camera samples show with the Microsoft Surface RT - Microsoft Surface RT Review

Strong - Indoor samples - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Medium - Indoor samples - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Low light - Indoor samples - Microsoft Surface RT Review

Strong

Medium

Low light


Having the ability to shoot videos in up to 800p, which results in giving us a 16:10 aspect ratio, its quality is hardly worth being attached to the term “high definition.” Lacking any serious details , combined with its heavy artifacting, the quality is forgettable in more ways than none. Though, it so happens to record smoothly at 30 frames per second and captures clear audio.

Microsoft Surface RT Sample Video:




Multimedia:

Looking through the photo gallery, we’re most saddened that we’re unable to share images with our linked social networking accounts. Rather, if we download a third party app, like Tweetro for Windows RT, we can select it as an option to share, but there’s not a native one. As expected, we can glance at photos by swiping left/right – while using pinch gestures enables us to see more/less photos simultaneously. Yet another strange occurrence, the app syncs our social networking photo albums, giving us quick access to them. And yes folks, there are a few minor editing functions at our disposal.

The photo gallery - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The photo gallery - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The photo gallery - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The photo gallery - Microsoft Surface RT Review

No longer attached with Zune branding, the Microsoft Surface opts to integrate XBOX MUSIC with its music player. Visually, it has the characteristic elements of the UI intact with its presentation – while also giving us access to purchase additional tunes. At the same time, we love the dynamic look of the player as it’s playing a track, seeing that images of the respective artist are displayed on-screen and a short bio is accessible as well. Blessed with stereo speakers, its volume output is very pleasant to the ears with its neutral tones – though, we would’ve liked to hear a stronger volume output.

The Microsoft Surface RT opts to integrate XBOX MUSIC with its music player - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Microsoft Surface RT opts to integrate XBOX MUSIC with its music player - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Microsoft Surface RT opts to integrate XBOX MUSIC with its music player - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Microsoft Surface RT opts to integrate XBOX MUSIC with its music player - Microsoft Surface RT Review

Out of the box, the Surface supports the usual set of video codecs to warm our hearts (DivX, H264, MPEG-4, and Xvid). Obviously, the 16:9 aspect ratio of the display combined with its bright looks make it an ideal choice for watching high definition videos on the go – and it helps that it doesn’t struggle for a moment with its playback.

Video player - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Video player - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Video player - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Video player - Microsoft Surface RT Review

So you’re probably wondering how we’re supposed to get multimedia content to the Surface when it doesn’t come included with a USB cable to connect to a PC? Well, we’re starting to see that Windows RT is ditching the model of having to rely on a computer for content storage. Yes, it’ll sync with certain things in the cloud (like our Facebook photos), but we’re simply able to copy music and videos on our computer by copying them to a flash drive, and then connecting it to the Surface’s USB port. Going into the desktop, we’re able to use the File Manager to copy and paste content to their respective folders a la the usual Windows desktop experience.


Software:

History has shown us that the survival of a new platform is contingent upon the amount of quality apps that are available for it. At the current state, the Surface isn’t winning in this category yet, as the fairly limited offerings in the Microsoft Windows Store don’t have the star appeal to capture our attention. Sure, you have big named ones like Netflix and Skype on there, but it doesn’t claim anything more advantageous over other versions of the same apps.

Microsoft Windows Store - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Microsoft Surface RT Review
Skype - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Netflix - Microsoft Surface RT Review

Microsoft Windows Store

 

Skype

Netflix


Still in its infancy, the Bing Maps experience is yet another example of an elementary offering with the Windows RT platform. Needless to say, it pales in comparison to the defined features and fuller offerings that rival maps services have to offer. Yes, you can get directions to a point of interest, but it doesn’t have voice-guided directions, nor does it offer transit directions. Slim pickings and all, Bing Maps is a far cry from everything else out there.

Bing Maps - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Bing Maps - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Bing Maps - Microsoft Surface RT Review

As much as we adore Internet Explorer 10 for being able to provide us with the full fidelity of the YouTube web site, it would’ve been nice to see a dedicated app on board with the platform. However, for all of you movie buffs out there, the Video app on the Surface provides us access to purchasing movies and television shows from Microsoft’s Windows Store – giving us the option to rent or buy.

The Video app on the Surface provides us access to purchasing or renting movies and television shows - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Video app on the Surface provides us access to purchasing or renting movies and television shows - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Video app on the Surface provides us access to purchasing or renting movies and television shows - Microsoft Surface RT Review
The Video app on the Surface provides us access to purchasing or renting movies and television shows - Microsoft Surface RT Review

When it comes to gaming, hardcore XBOX gamers will surely appreciate the integration of XBOX Live. Moreover, we can also elect to purchase games for the XBOX 360 home console, which are tagged as “on-demand games” – in addition to the usual ones meant to run on the Surface itself that are in the Windows Games Store front. Playing real-time strategy game ARMED, the hardware inside of the Surface shows its prowess in handling graphically intensive processes.

Gaming - Microsoft Surface RT Review
Gaming - Microsoft Surface RT Review


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PhoneArena rating:
8.5Excellent
Display10.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels (148 ppi)
Camera1 megapixel
Hardware
NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30, Quad-core, 1300 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
2 GB 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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