Review: Microsoft Surface RT

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Over the holidays I picked up the original Surface RT since I didn’t own a tablet despite using the Apple iPad at work. I chose the Surface RT for a couple of reasons, but the big one is I use Windows 8.1 as my home desktop and my wife has the Lumia 920. Yes, I know this has very little significance now, but I believe that full desktop integration will be fully available within the next two to three years. As the current software limitations preventing this type of integration wont be there. 

So the Surface RT made sense since it would be for personal use and will allow for future growth of the ecosystem I am currently the most heavily invested in. My opinion of the Surface RT is probably vastly different from one some others out there mainly due to the fact that I got mine after they released the gen 2 model and the app store has had an opportunity to grow.

Screen Quality 9/10

One of the things that has always bothered me with touch screen devices is they never seemed to be responsive. This isn’t the case with the Surface RT, it is by far the most responsive screen I have used. There isn’t the delay when swiping from one side of the screen to another, this is something I notice often on other touch screens. The on-screen keyboard is also incredibly accurate and feels surprisingly intuitive when compared to the iPad I use at work. The picture quality on the display is excellent as well and provides a nice contrast and a high quality image. Overall this is one of the best displays I use on a day-to-day basis, and is only blown out of the water by my wife’s Lumia 920 (mainly due to it being an IPS display and having a higher pixel density)

Ease of Use and Functionality 7.5/10

One of the big reasons I bought the Surface RT was so when I went to my church’s band practice I would have access to a larger display then my phone for the chord charts we have stored on Planning Center. While I haven’t dabbled too much with planning center, my over all experience has been positive since it is easy to use and has a clean interface, while still providing what I need. However, since getting this tablet I use it all the time for Netflix streaming and iHeart Radio. The UI for Netflix is arguably the best I have used although at times not all the movie icons will load. All the apps seem to perform well and are fairly easy to use, of course some apps aren’t that good but that is the case with any device. Overall the device is solid and does what it is supposed to do,but I would still like to see more connectivity between my computer and the tablet.

Battery Life – 6/10

This is one of the things I expected to be horrible, after hearing that it was pretty bad. While you won’t have it last a full day running resource intensive applications, I have had it run a full 8 hour workday playing movies on Netflix or running iHeart Radio without it dying on me. This is one of the few areas in which my work iPad was better and this is really not as big of a deal since it lasts long enough for me. Maybe if I was playing a ton of games where I was utilizing more of the Terga 3 gpu the battery would die fast enough where this would be a deal breaker. As it stands for what I use it for, the battery life is fine, but I could see how it can’t be enough for others who use it more on the go or use it as a desktop/laptop replacement.

Build Quality 9.5/10

The build quality is pretty amazing the metal shell is a little heavy (it is metal), but offers extra durability. Having a USB port allows me to plug-in a flash drive with video files or music and have it on the go (great when paired with skydrive). The speakers provide solid sound quality that is impressive for their size. Having a kickstand built-in works nicely when watching Netflix or reading while eating breakfast at the table. Overall Microsoft put a lot of thought into offering a flexible and durable hardware platform that complimented the software experience.

Conclusion 8/10

The Surface RT is a great entry point for Microsoft, they provided a great hardware platform that complements the benefits of the current Windows platform. The Surface does have a way to go as far as integration with the Desktop Windows Ecosystem (that goes for all windows devices). But they have positioned themselves nicely to really usher in the future of connected devices with the Surface RT/Pro, Windows Phone 8, Xbox and Windows 8.1 based computers. This not just a device that is designed for today, it is designed for tomorrows connected ecosystems. Whether the Surface RT is used in the future for a connected Windows Ecosystem, or not this is one large step towards that goal.

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Musician, gamer, all around tech junkie.

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