We ordered a couple of Surfaces for work prior to the release date. I’ve been playing with one of these for a couple of weeks now and I’m really enjoying it more than I thought I would! Now, it still has a ways to go but I think Microsoft is on the right track. They just have to make sure they are vigilant about putting out timely updates and getting the app store to grow more.
***Disclaimer…I took these photos with my iPhone 4 so I do apologize for the poor quality of some of them.***
First of all, what is the Surface? It’s a Windows 8 tablet (runs Windows 8 RT) that has a nifty little (optional) cover/keyboard with it.
I have an iPad 2 (which I really like too) that I tried to use a bluetooth keyboard with but the lag between the key press and when the character showed up on the screen was just too much for my taste. I was pleasantly surprised to see that wasn’t an issue for me with the Surface set up. This is more than likely due to the fact that the cover/keyboard isn’t bluetooth but rather connects with an interesting magnetic slot/dock (not sure what to call that!). It was very responsive and I was able to type without the frustration I was getting with my iPad set up.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself though! Let’s look at the packaging. It looks like Microsoft took a bit of a lesson from Apple and made their packaging sleek and clean.
In the photo above, I had already removed the device. What you see there is the plastic sleeve and quick set up guide. The tablet itself is a little oddly shaped. It’s more like a wide-screen format than the other tablets out there. While it doesn’t really bother me now, it was a bit awkward at first. Especially when reading books on the screen!
Speaking of, the screen is very bright with vibrant colors. I was very pleased with how clear it was. The set up is easy, but it can be a little slow. I think Microsoft can probably speed that up a bit. To pass the time they show you some short cuts on how to use the tablet, but this was also a little confusing because I wasn’t sure if it was wanting me to do the actions it was showing or if it was just a slide. It’s just a slide!
The store has some of the big players, such as Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, Angry Birds, etc. However, they are still missing a few of the top apps (I’m waiting for Words with Friends and Instagram. Both of which Microsoft is working on). I also found the store a little difficult to really navigate well. It works much better if you’re just searching for a particular name using the search function than it does when browsing. While the offerings are still relatively small compared to Apple and Google Play, it is slowly but surely adding in new apps daily.
If you prefer the look of the traditional desktop, you have a desktop tile on the start page that takes you to your desktop.
It takes a little getting used to not having the start button, but in about 30 minutes of playing with the Surface I felt pretty comfortable navigating around. Click on the folders to get to your normal computer windows.
If you need to search for something you can either use the search in the upper right of the Libraries window, or you can swipe from right to left on the right side of the tablet to pull up the overall search feature, the settings, and to see the clock.
There are two things that I really like about the Surface. 1) The calendar. It’s very clean and crisp. I found it extremely easy to navigate and add/edit appointments.
#2) Is the built in easel!
I LOVE this thing! Even if I don’t want to use it as a computer with the keyboard, I can prop it up on a table and watch a movie on Netflix or play a slide show of my pictures. I wish my iPad had this little lovely!
All in all, I’ve been impressed with the quality of the build, the battery life, and how well the Windows 8 RT functions. I fully expected quite a few bugs (wouldn’t be unheard of with Microsoft!) but it seems like they put a lot of forethought into this product and kudos to them. I won’t be buying one for myself any time soon, but I more than likely will after they release the second generation and have added a lot of new features.
OHHH…did I mention this puppy has a USB outlet? Yep, that’s right…you can use a flashdrive to transfer files, pictures, whatever you want between your computer and the tablet. That’s pretty awesome! I also like the fact that you can access your sky drive from the tablet as well. Those with Windows 8 computers and the tablet will be pleased with the integration. I just bought a Windows 8 computer and I’m trying to get used to using it without the touch pad! I also got myself a Windows 8 Phone, which I love! Still waiting for Instagram…but other than that, I’m very pleased!
I think Microsoft is on the right track with the Surface and I can’t wait to see what else comes from this!