Camera Performance, Battery Life
As we’ve mentioned, the Microsoft Surface Tablet with Windows RT is outfitted with a pair of front and rear 720P cameras capable of capturing images/video. Unfortunately, neither camera captures images that are of particularly good quality as you can see in the samples below.
Taking snapshots with Surface is possible, but the device will not be replacing your point-and-shoot camera or smartphone anytime soon. The images are somewhat washed out and of a relatively low resolution (the full-sized pop-up images are unresized / unretouched). In bright light, the images captured by Surface are somewhat under-saturated, although contrast between bright and dark colors is decent.
The cameras on Surface are fairly good for video conferencing, however. Using Skype was a pleasurable experience, with decent video quality and smooth frame rates.
Using the cameras was pleasurable, thanks to an easy-to-use camera app. Simply launch the app, select which camera you want to use (front or rear), and tap the screen to capture images or video. The only caveat is the funky angle of the rear camera. If you’ve got the surface propped up on its kickstand on a desk, the camera effectively shoots video straight-ahead, because the camera is tilted 22 degrees. If you’re holding Surface, however, you’ll have to angle the tablet a bit to capture images or video right in front of you.
In an attempt to quantitatively measure the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran a test in which we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics, Flash media and text. The page automatically refreshes every three minutes. This is a simple baseline test that measures up time while web browsing. For this test, we set the Surface tablet's display to 50% brightness, which is still plenty bright and easy on the eyes, and connected to the web via an 802.11n wireless network.
As you can see, the Microsoft Surface Tablet with Windows RT offered excellent battery life, finishing just shy of the 10-hour mark. The only devices that offered longer battery life were the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which has a lower-resolution screen, and the docked Asus Transformer Pad 300, which had the added benefit of a secondary battery.