2012
11.07

On Monday morning, we (the company) ordered a 32 GB Surface RT (ARM processor) with touch keyboard, and an optional mini-HDMI to full HDMI adapter. Almost 48 hours later it arrived – and we didn’t expect it until next Monday.

First impressions – it’s heavier than I expected (everyone’s reaction so far – we distribute a certain market leading tablet) after handling the Samsung and Asus RT tablets. I am left to guess that the VaporMG casing is partly responsible. The device feels well in the hand, but I wouldn’t give it an edge over the other RT tablets that I’ve tried.  The kickstand is solid, but (in my opinion) doesn’t have that luxury European sound when closing, as was promoted. The screen contrast is superb, as early reviews highlighted.  Photos do look well on the device.  The keyboard does have a solid click and lock – first thing I did was wave the tablet by the keyboard to the shock of my co-workers Smile

The touch keyboard is different but it works … on a table.  I give this keyboard concept a fail in the actual on-the-lap experience (see the transformer type tablets such as Asus Vivo, HP Envy x2, Dell XPS 10, or Samsung ATIV).  That’s just my opinion.  Others disagree and prefer the non-transformer tablet approach of the Surface. The great thing is that we do have device and CPU choices with Windows 8/RT and we can still share a common app platform.

An issue is that the touch cover doesn’t close flush with the edges of the tablet; it’s a matter of time until the edges fray as the tablet is put into a bag and pulled out again.  The touch keyboard is not magnetically held closed to the tablet when you close it over. You have to hold the cover to the tablet.

As was reported elsewhere, the power cable locks on magnetically; it’s a little fiddly. There is a very dim light (not visible from angles) that indicates a solid lock and charging activity.

photo

Setup was painless. My colleague and myself set up user accounts.  Importantly, the device is snappy to use.  I installed Guns 4 Hire and it played well.

I kicked off a reset from Settings.  It’s been running 15 minutes and is stuck at 1%. Ah … just as I typed that % it switched to 2% progress Smile

One nice thing to see: finally MSFT is shipping a product that is not encased in inordinate amounts of solid, waste plastic.  The packaging was almost entirely cardboard, as you get with the iPad or Kindle. Bravo!  However, Amazon still keeps the lead there by using recycled materials for the packaging. I really don’t care what a box looks like when its destiny is to end up in my recycle bin.

The first person to set it up was one of our MSFT licensing experts. He logged in with his Microsoft (Live) ID and was well impressed that his contacts, photos, and social media stuff was waiting for him to use.  That’s such a winner for Windows 8/RT.

Edit: After the reset I started updating and installing. Lots of apps were installed, including one by the GAA and some rugby (6 nations and IRFU news) apps. Lots of good games on there, some work stuff like a whiteboard and Citrix receiver. And of course, Office RT was upgraded to RTM (remember that you need to “upgrade” that to Pro for business usage).

As I said, it feels nice in the hand, it ran well in my quick test (don’t bother asking me specifics because it was a quick test), and it is the Surface, the flagship device for Windows 8, and probably the first of many versions to come.

For us, it’s a demo machine. We have to promote Windows 8 as a concept and devices such as tablets are central to that.  None of the manufacturers that we distribute have launched Windows 8 tablets so we needed something that wasn’t going to promote brands run by other distributors.  Hence we bought the Surface as a demo device.

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