As one of the standout tablets for any business wanting to run Windows applications on a tablet computer, the Microsoft Surface is a device we have published various articles about. We have already published this review of the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT. Since then, PC & Tech Authority has published a followup review, comparing it to other Windows 8 tablets currently on sale. Below is the review.
To some extent the final product lives up to expectations.
The detachable keyboards and kickstand make the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT look portable enough for use in tablet mode, yet usable as a laptop as well.
No matter of the two types of Surface keyboards you choose (read more about the Surface keyboards here), the keyboards add little weight or bulk, and the build quality and design are both outstanding.
The two parts connect magnetically with a satisfying thunk, and it still feels comfortable to use when the Touch Cover is folded round the back; the physical keys of the Type Cover make it less so. The Surface is far more portable than any hybrid laptop/tablet we've reviewed up till now.
The screen impresses, too: its maximum brightness and IPS panel is solid. We’re less keen on the 1366 x 768 resolution, but it isn’t noticeable in full-screen apps. It’s more visible on the desktop, but there isn’t much to do in that environment anyway.
Ports and wireless connectivity
The Surface RT has a good selection of ports, including:
- micro-HDMI and microSDXC (to add to the 32GB or 64GB of storage, of which 16GB and 45GB respectively are available for your own files).
- dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4
There is no 3G option yet at time of writing.
If it all sounds rosy so far, that’s because when you hold the Surface that’s exactly the impression you get - it’s a lovely piece of hardware. Alas, its weaknesses become apparent through use.
This Surface has an ARM-type processor inside (as opposed to the Surface Pro, which will have an Intel processor), and although performance is fine in most apps, opening big files in the preinstalled Office RT suite quickly slows things to a crawl. Running two apps side by side can cause stuttering, and moderately demanding 3D games are juddery too.
By the standards of the full Windows 8 devices on test this month, battery life is better: it lasted 9hrs 5mins looping a video, which is pretty good, but still some way short of the iPad.
The other issue is the stand, which works fine with the Surface sat on a desk, but sets the screen at too upright an angle for viewing on your lap. Not that you’ll want to use it much in this position.
The thin keyboards are light and portable, but they’re too unstable to form a good typing position perched on your thighs. You may find it more comfortable to close the kickstand and lay the whole device flat while.
The Surface is a superbly made device. Its keyboards in particular are standouts.
But given the weakness in practicality, and stiff competition from Asus’ VivoTab RT TF600T, you’re better off waiting to see if the Microsoft Surface Pro with an Intel chip is the tablet you’re really looking for.
Want to know more about the upcoming Surface Pro? Click here to read all our articles.