So yesterday my Surface arrived (it seems I was one of very few ) and I posted my unboxing video which you can watch here. After having the Surface for 24 hours I thought I would post the first part of my review. I am going to split my review into hardware and software and I this post is going to focus on the hardware.
The Surface is the first PC device Microsoft has designed in-house and they have paid a lot of attention to the details. In the review I am going to end up comparing with the iPad a few times, while they are very different devices the iPad is the device that the Surface will be compared to and the device I have been using for the last couple of years. The feel of the Surface is very different than the iPad, the iPad has a smooth curved feel where as the Surface has a more angular industrial feel to it which isn’t a bad thing its just different. The Surface weights 676 grams verses the 3rd gen iPad’s 662 grams and in the hand they feel about the same weight.
The VaporMg case feels very solid but I think the back could be prone to scratching. The Surface has an integrated kick stand with clips out from the back with a solid click.
The Surface is 9.3mm thick and a millimetre thinner than the iPad but its the height that makes the bigger difference. The longer form factor will take a bit of getting used to, its 16:9 rather than 4:3 of the iPad. The screen is clear and bright, in fact I turned down the brightness when running on battery.
The kick stand is actually a really important part of the product and without that other parts of the Surface won’t work as well, I will come back to that later.
Built into the Surface are a headphone port, microSD card slot, USB 2.0 and video port. Having the USB port is really handy, more on that when I look at Windows RT but it means you can plug in a mouse/keyboard, phone (which it will charge) or other USB devices. There is also a power button, volume rocker and a Windows button.
I ordered the Surface with the Touch keyboard which is a very neat design, it magnetically clicks on to the Surface and opening the cover turns the Surface on. It has a multi-touch trackpad, playback transport controls plus Windows 8 keys like Search and a Charms button. On a flat surface the keyboard is very useable and I found I could type very quickly on it, there is no physical movement but it works very well. Where it doesn’t work as well is on my lap, it’s a little to flexible and you loose a little of the accuracy, it’s not that bad that you can’t use it but it does lead to the odd mistyped letter. One thing I like is with the cover over the Surface it does have a nice book like feel to it.
In the box you get a charger which has a magnetic connector on it very reminiscing of the MacBook connector. It’s not quiet as easy to connect as on the Mac, it’s a bit fiddly to get in but it does work in either orientation.
The combination of the kick stand and the keyboard make using the desktop side of Windows very usable, it almost like using a Ultrabook. Having used it with keyboard you can see why the kick start is so important. I imagine the Type keyboard would be even better but it would make a bit less portable.
The touch screen works very well and in combination Windows RT it is extremely responsive, more on that in the next part of the review. It has a very different feel that the iPad or even my Nexus 7 but it’s certainly well made and feel very solid.
So I love the hardware, it feels great and if Windows RT can do the job then Microsoft are on to a winner, find out about that in part two.
Here is a collection of tablets, one of these three is going to be gathering dust.