MS Surface RT – a review from the newly converted

As the MD of an IT Services company, you tend to get very lazy about taking the initiative to explore new devices and technologies yourself because various members of your team do it on an ongoing basis and brief you about it. I have however been excited for quite some time about the new MS Surface and Windows RT, and how the device and operating system might form a “bridge” between a device that business users could benefit from as they travel and also a “home entertainment” device that gives you most of the critical apps and other functionality of an iPad. (yes we do have an iPad at home but I have personally resisted claiming it as “mine”!) I’ve been hoping this will be the device for people like me who find even the smallest laptops too bulky to carry around.

So… the MS Surface was delivered to us as soon as it became available late last year and after a rear guard action from some of my team to claim it and play with it, I proudly took possession of the device and it has not left my clutches since! And the good news is – I really LOVE it! It’s not perfect but it has loads of good points.

What makes the MS surface RT so great?

A few things really:

  1. First and foremost it looks cool, it’s a good size and not too heavy. Easy to shove into a bag when travelling on business or pleasure.
  2. The cover which doubles up as a keypad is also great. It takes a little bit of getting used to when typing but definitely easier than typing onto the screen. Not as efficient as a small laptop but maybe that will change with a bit more practice.
  3. It’s absolutely great that it has Office on it. From a business productivity point of view, this completely sets the Surface aside from the iPad.
  4. It has or you can load all the key applications that you would need on it – Explorer for browsing, Xbox to download movies, Skype, weather, travel etc.
  5. It has the ability to load your word / excel PowerPoint etc. files into the cloud from where you can synchronise with your desktop.
  6. And of course it has all the Windows functions and navigation which most people are used to.

In a nutshell, it does pretty much everything that a good laptop does, but in a much lighter cooler format and with the added benefit of various tablet type apps.

What could be better about the MS Surface RT?

A few things:

  1. I did not like the mail application. Apparently Outlook is going to come in the Windows 8 Pro version of the MS Surface that is due to be released this month. It would be much better to have this as we are all used to it.
  2. The Xbox shop does not have the selection that ITunes has. It’s not bad but it’s nowhere near as comprehensive and I think it’s also more expensive. Microsoft really needs to up the selection and lower the price.
  3. If you are an apps maniac then of course you have access to a hugely greater selection of apps with the iPad.

A few other points…Firstly the MS Surface does not come with 3G but it allows you to bind to a device (phone) that has 3G so no issues there. Secondly, the Operating System used up a lot of Space but the price of a 32 GB MS Surface is roughly the same as a 16 GB iPad so they seem to have taken that into account. Finally, of course you need to get used to using a tablet which is slightly different to a “regular” PC.

Net net, I am looking forward to the newer device with Outlook and in the meantime, I have told my team that – sorry but the Surface stays with me!!


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