Microsoft Surface with Windows RT Review

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They say hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, it’s now obvious that Microsoft had dropped a number of hints that the company would eventually offer its own tablet, which should have made their Surface announcement last summer much less of a surprise to industry insiders. It was way back in 2008 that Microsoft began showing off its similarly named Surface tabletop (now renamed PixelSense), hinting at the immense resources Microsoft was pouring into touch interfaces, gestures, and multi-touch input. It was at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2011 that Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would support system on a chip (SoC) architectures from ARM and over the next few months revealed more of Windows 8’s touch-optimized interface. Coincidentally, within a few hours of Microsoft’s announcement, NVIDIA announced that Microsoft’s demo at CES, which showed Excel and IE10 running on an ARM-based chip, was performed using a Tegra SoC. All the while, Apple had been disrupting the computing landscape with a couple of a wildly successful product lines, namely the iPhone and iPad.

If you step back and put all the of the pieces together, Microsoft had shown that the company was already investing heavily into touch-enabled interfaces, they said Windows 8 would support ARM-based SoCs, NVIDIA revealed that Microsoft was already developing software on a Tegra-powered device, and Apple—one of Microsoft’s arch rivals—was changing the way people thought about computing. Heck, even Microsoft's branding had technically been revealed as well.

That foundation culminated to the release of the product we’ll be showing you here, Microsoft’s Surface Tablet with Windows RT. As you can probably surmise, Surface with Windows RT is Microsoft’s own, Tegra 3-powered tablet running the ARM-optimized version of Windows 8. We’ve got the full specifications for the device posted below, but have a lot to cover over and above just the hardware...


The Microsoft Surface Tablet With Windows RT and Touch Cover in Black

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT
Specifications & Features
Software Surface with Windows RT comes with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote)
Exterior 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37in
1.5lbs
VaporMg casing
Dark Titanium color
Volume and Power buttons
Storage 32GB*, 64GB
*1GB = 1 billion bytes; formatted storage capacity may be less
Display 10.6" ClearType HD Display
1366x768 pixels
16:9 (widescreen)
5-point multi-touch
CPU NVIDIA T30
Memory 2GB RAM
Wireless Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 4.0 technology
Battery 31.5 W-h
Cameras Two 720p HD cameras, front-and rear-facing
Audio Two microphones
Stereo speakers
Ports Full-size USB 2.0
microSDXC card slot
Headset jack
HD video out port
Cover port
Sensors Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Compass
Power Supply 24W power supply
Warranty 1-year limited hardware warranty
Apps (included) Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote); Windows Mail and Messaging; SkyDrive; Internet Explorer 10; Bing; Xbox Music, Video, and Games.


Surface's backside, with its kickstand extended

In terms of its specifications, there’s nothing that really sets Microsoft’s Surface with Windows RT apart from other NVIDIA Tegra 3-based tablets and mobile devices. Surface sports NVIDIA’s T30 quad-core SoC (the fifth “battery saver” core is not available on Windows 8-based devices), 2GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Additional storage space can be added via a microSDXC slot, however. There are a pair of HD cameras on the Surface tablet (front and rear), an array of sensors including an Accelerometer, Gyroscope, and Compass, stereo speakers and microphones, and a 10.6” touch screen with 5-point multi-touch support. Wireless connectivity comes by way of a Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0, and everything all wrapped up in a package weighing right around 1.5lbs. There are some interesting aspects of the Surface’s design that we’ll talk about in a bit, but there isn’t much that stands out looking at its specifications alone.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the story than specifications here. Surface is a big deal for a number of reasons, not only because of what it says about the long-time, dominant “Wintel” platform, but the message it sends to many of Microsoft’s hardware partners.
 

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It'll be interesting to see how the Store performs and how well the tablet fits. Since this and the many versions of Windows OS seem to be the same it is safe to say this market may start off mildly but will eventually take off. It depends on HOW the other markets react though.

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One other thing to keep in mind is that virtually every new desktop and laptop sold from this point moving forward will ship with Windows 8. That means the install base is going to be huge, relatively quickly, which in turn will attract developers.

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I've been using windows 8 and surface for a few weeks now and i have to say its a great move. I know people keep bagging it but its does work very nicely. Love how its fast and responsive. Since the patch last week on the Surface its runs even smoother and apps load faster. For a first try this is a fantastic device and is on par with whats out now.

Apps are not all available right now but i do see it growing slowing and it will over time. People just need to get over this fear stage they seem to be in. MS are changed the because they needed to, tablets and phones are the future. With saying that i love my PC and will never give it up :)

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I'm also using Windows 8 on my Desktop with no Touchscreen... I think it's glorious! Swish left to bottom and bingo "Start" Screen, swish right to bottom or top "command" bar...

It's so wonderfully simple I cannot believe it!

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Tip: Move your Desktop Tile to the top left of the Start Screen and you're only ever an "Enter" key press away from your desktop. Simples..

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I've been using iPads since day on, but I'd be liking to try a table Windows tablet. Anything to get off iTunes!

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That was a good article. I don't have a Surface and I don't think that I'll be getting one. It's very expensive, especially when you include the extras. Maybe when Microsoft ships one that runs Windows 8. I do like the idea of Microsoft pushing developers to make stuff that you can use on a mobile device that is Windows compatable.

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