While everybody’s got their attention on Apple’s 4th generation iPad and the iPad Mini, we bring you fresh reviews of the Surface RT. Some of us might just get bored with Apple, and since Microsoft is the latest name in the tablet game, it’s only natural to put them in direct competition with Apple. Surface is leading the Windows 8 “revolution” and its direct enemy is the iPad. Let’s see what the reviews can tell us about the Surface RT.

Surface RT is a worthy competitor for the iPad and other Android tablets, but it has a big minus at the moment – it runs Windows RT, which is a dumbed-down version of the Windows 8. Read our guide to know what are the differences. Also, it lacks 3G, which might be a hindrance for many. But, if we overlook these minuses, can it become a viable choice?


Surface RT reviews are in

JOEL SANTO DOMINGO, PC MAG

  • The Touch Cover keyboard is one of the most responsive ones we’ve ever used and when installed, turns the Surface into the quasi-laptop.
  • You can use the Surface in a dual-monitor configuration, just like a desktop or laptop.
  • Surface works best when you’re walking around at home; the Touch Cover is comfortable for about half an hour of steady work and the Type Cover  is necessary for serious writing.
  • This version of Office is certainly enough for the elementary- to university-level student to get his or her work done on the Surface.
  • The Xbox Games tab has a few Windows games on it, but it’s mainly a conduit to your Xbox Live account and a store for ordering games for your Xbox 360.
  • YouTube videos looked fine on the Surface, even 720p HD videos. Some 1080p HD videos did stutter a bit, but that’s okay, since they’re being downscaled to 720p.
  • Playing music and games won’t tax your eardrums too hard. The Surface’s speakers play very softly, even at 100% volume. However, when we plugged in a pair of headphones, the Surface was able to drive them at an ear-splitting level.
  • On Rightware’s Browsermark benchmark test, the Surface performed a bit slower than the New Apple iPad.
  • The Surface eked out 7 hours 45 minutes in our video rundown test.
  • If you’re a tech pioneer or someone who appreciates well executed design, then you probably have already put the Microsoft Surface on order.

The Surface certainly looks like the prototypical “Post-PC” device

MARY BRANSCOMBE, TECH RADAR

  • It’s thin, it’s light, it’s comfortable to hold, it runs Windows RT as excellently as you’d expect, it makes you want to touch it.
  • The design of the Surface for Windows RT  is understated.
  • The Surface is light and comfortable to hold; the edges are sloped to give you a comfortable grip.
  • The magnesium alloy chassis is covered with a soft coating that feels durable and expensive.
  • The Touch Cover is the ultra-thin touch keyboard for those that value portability; the Type Cover is the slightly thicker keyboard with physical buttons for those that want keys that actually move rather than just the audio feedback.
  • Typing on the Touch Cover is a little odd at first because the keys don’t move under your fingers; but they don’t pick up typing until you actually hit the keys.
  • The good news is that Windows RT feels just like Windows 8 – and it works well on a touchscreen.
  • If you’re at all familiar with Windows 8, Surface RT feels like a nice, fast Windows 8 PC that just happens to have an ARM processor.

It’s a surprise that Microsoft created its own tablet, but it’s done a more than decent job of it; far more creative and polished than many Android tablets.

ERIC FRANKLIN, CNET

  • Microsoft Surface is the best productivity tablet yet, and it had better be.
  • Apps support is dismal, performance (especially when using IE 10) is slow at times, the traditional Windows interface lingers on, feeling embarrassingly out of place.
  • The entire chassis is surrounded by a full magnesium (VaporMg, pronounced “Vapor Mag”) outer casing that’s supposedly both scratch- and wear-resistant; however, scratches are already beginning to appear on my unit.
  • I’m a huge fan of built-in kickstands on tablets and this is the best implementation I’ve seen so far.
  • Surface is a bit bulkier than most premium mainstream 10-inchers.
  • After several days of use, it’s clear to me that owning the Touch Cover (or Type Cover; see below) is essential to getting the complete Surface experience.
  • Some Windows features are completely useless for Surface RT. The control panel Programs and Features, for example, serves no purpose here.
  • After downloading an app, there is no way to open the app from its app store page.
  • There’s no confirmation prompt when holding down the power button to shut the tablet down. The tablet simply shuts off.
  • There’s no battery meter on the Start screen.
  • Speed-wise, IE 10 definitely felt sluggish, especially when pit directly against the iPad using Safari. When loading sites like Collider.com, Fox.com, and Comicbookmovie.com, the iPad was up to 9 seconds faster.
  • Surface sports an extremely bright IPS screen with impressively wide viewing angles and a noticeably high contrast. However, its colors looked muted compared with the iPad and Transformer Infinity when looking at the same Web site.
  • Front and back cameras were fine at capturing video and pictures. They weren’t impressive by any means, but got the job done.
  • The battery seemed to drain fairly quickly, even at only 33 percent brightness when under several hours of fairly heavy use.

If you’re an early adopter willing to forget everything you know about navigating a computer, the Surface tablet could replace your laptop. Everyone else: wait for more apps.

TIM STEVENS, ENGADGET

  • The exterior of the slate is a cool, matte surface that looks dark and feels quite strong and durable.
  • When combined with either of the keyboards that Microsoft offers at launch, this becomes a surprisingly capable laptop replacement.
  • Despite having twice as many speakers as the iPad, it actually can’t match that product’s maximum volume output.
  • When it’s time to reach out and get this thing online, you have only WiFi as Microsoft is not offering a 3G- or LTE-equipped model.
  • A technique already used in smartphone manufacturing allows for the panel to be thinner, and also creates fewer opportunities for light to refract. As a result, there are some pleasantly versatile viewing angles here.
  • The screen has an impressively high 400-nit brightness rating; thanks to that spec, in particular, outdoor visibility won’t be a problem.
  • We’re inclined to think that touch typists will come to grips with the Touch Cover more quickly than with a more tactile keyboard on another tablet OS.
  • If you’re a regular PC user you’ll quickly and happily find that all your typical keyboard shortcuts work exactly as you’d expect them.
  • There’s a good three seconds wait before the display pops back on after flipping open the cover. That compares unfavorably to the one second or less time on Apple’s option.
  • In short, the performance has a few limitations, but overall, Surface is fast, responsive and stable.
  • We’re still a little unclear on how Microsoft plans to educate consumers on the difference between Windows RT and Windows 8.
  • It really is lovely to plug in a USB drive and start dragging and dropping files.
  • Video playback support is rather limited at this point.
  • Even by tablet standards, the image quality here is pretty poor.
As an ARM-based tablet promising healthy battery life, the Surface goes to toe-to-toe with the iPad.

SAM BIDDLE, GIZMODO

  • Surface is a thoughtful computer. It’s a beautiful computer, in your hand or on a tabletop, its shifting angles clean and secure.
  • The Surface is instantly more charming than any Windows device that’s come before it. It’s nearly the perfect size, and the form is almost beyond reproach.
  • You’ll touch one thing, scroll to the next, swipe another, then begin typing, merging habits you’ve picked up since your parents first let you set hands on something that ran off batteries. Surface presents you the Internet all at once.
  • Surface is a fantastic promise, and holds fantastic potential. But while potential is worth your attention, it’s not worth your paycheck.
  • Surface RT is undone by too many little annoyances, cracks, and flaws.
  • I tried writing this review on the Surface, but I would’ve missed my deadline by a week.
  • The Touch Cover also approximates, dismally, the sturdiness of a laptop: thanks to the cloth-like floppiness of the thing that’s necessary for making it easy to open and close, it can’t support itself on anything but a flat, rigid surface.
  • But it’s Windows on Surface RT that’s the greatest letdown of all, the lethal letdown, because it’s not Windows 8, but Windows RT.
  • This is nothing more than Microsoft’s tablet. And a buggy, at times broken one, at that, whose “ecosystem” feels more like a tundra.
  • The app selection, overall, is worse than the already pathetic Windows Phone app fare, looking like the software equivalent to a barren Soviet grocery store.
  • The Surface, with an obligatory Touch Cover, is $600. That’s a lot of money. Especially given that it’s no laptop replacement, no matter how it looks or what Microsoft says. It’s a tablet-plus, priced right alongside the iPad and in most ways inferior.

You shouldn’t buy it.

VINCENT NGUYEN, SLASHGEAR

  • You have to give Microsoft its due when it comes to design and build. Where the iPad is all curves and tapers, Surface musters angled edges and bevels to make its design mark.
  • It’s also meant to be fingerprint-resistant, though our unit had little trouble picking up enough prints from us to be a goldmine for law enforcement.
  • So, while other tablets are chasing pixels so densely packed you can hardly make them out individually in normal use, Microsoft refuses to join the resolution arms race.
  • However, zoom in on graphics in the browser on the Surface and, side by side with an iPad 3, the difference in resolution is clear. It’s the same when you’re viewing photos in the gallery app: the Surface screen just doesn’t look as good.
  • Overall, performance has proved solid from the Tegra 3 chipset. The Metro-style interface is slick and responsive; apps open without delay or lag; and the slide-in dialogs like search appear on a single swipe despite what the current app is doing.
  • There’s limited Flash support – in fact, only those sites Microsoft decides simply have to use Flash to give a good experience get to access it.
  • With heavy use, we managed a full day out of the slate, with a mixture of web browsing, some app use, local and streaming media, and a little camera work. It’s a good, solid showing for the Microsoft slate.
  • Whereas you can leave an iPad unused for a few days, and come back to it with a fair expectation of having power left, Surface proved more profligate with its standby power. One time, we left it with a claimed 30-percent left on the battery meter, and after around 6hrs – with no active use in that time – it ran itself down and shut off.

In the end, it all comes down to ecosystem. If you’re already invested in Microsoft then it’s a good solution

 

 
Managing Editor

is the Managing Editor of Technically Personal. When he has some extra-time, he writes about Windows 8 apps and reviews them on Wind8Apps. Believes that technology is the main engine of civilization. Send him a tweet or make him your Facebook friend