I have had my Surface RT for a couple of months now and I thought it would be a good time to post my thoughts.
During my normal work day I spend most of my time in Visual Studio, Outlook, Office and the browser and use a 17″ notebook but at home I had been using my Macbook Air and iPad for browsing the web, RSS feeds and writing blog posts. When I got the Surface I wasn’t sure how it would fit into my lifestyle, I was expecting it be a replacement for the iPad but it’s turned out to be a lot more than that.
The Surface makes a great tablet, in portrait mode I use Feed Reader to catch up on my RSS feeds, I use the People app to catch up with that is going on with Twitter and Facebook, or I use MetroTwit (the Windows Store needs a killer Twitter client). On my other machines I prefer to use Google Chrome over IE10 but on the Surface I find I don’t miss Google’s browser. IE10 works very well.
Sometime while browsing the web I find a good story I want to post up on TDL so I flip the Surface round in to landscape mode use kickstand and type keyboard and fire up Word and this is where I am beginning to love the Surface. In the past I may have been browsing on my iPad and then would have got out my Macbook Air to do a blog post. With the Surface I can do it with one device, I get the form factor of a tablet with the benefit of it being an Ultrabook as well. I use the Surface on and off during the day and spend most of the evening using it but it never runs out of charge, I never carry the charger around with me, I just charge it up overnight.
I keep all my notes in Evernote and the Windows Store version works very well, I use Skype and the store version of that app and have no issues with it at all. If I get any office documents I can work on them in the full version of Office and I don’t have to worry about converting files to some mobile format.
For book reading there is the Kindle app, for movies I have Netflix plus I can watch TV using DVBLink or TunerFree and Catchup TV. The other great thing about the Surface is you get the full desktop browser and if the site doesn’t work to well with touch controls you can use the mouse and keyboard. I can VPN into work and use the remote desktop app to control my servers, I used to do it from my iPad but found the touch controls difficult so the Surface makes this much easier.
I purchased the 32GB version and bought a 32GB MicroSD card which I use to put my music on (using this little trick) and I have developed a tool to help transfer Windows Media Center Recorded TV files to the Surface (more details here)
I should say early on I purchased the Type keyboard, originally I used the Touch keyboard which is a nice keyboard to use occasionally but I found the Type keyboard as good as a laptop keyboard and doesn’t add much thickness or weight to the package.
Since using the Surface I have found that I haven’t used my iPad or Macbook that much, when I do use the Air I find I keep touch the screen trying to get it to scroll. I a big fan of the metro UI, it works really well on a touch screen and equally as well with the keyboard and mouse. I think the key to the main benefit of the Surface is its dual personality, it’s a tablet when you need a tablet and an Ultrabook when you need a laptop. There are drawbacks with the Surface, it’s a long way from being the perfect device. There is no way to edit videos or audio so I can’t use it for podcast and video production, there apps I miss like Dropbox, Sky Go, BBC iPlayer etc but I guess it’s just a matter of time before the apps arrive. Some of the built in apps like the Mail and People app are a bit flaky but Microsoft can work on that.
I have seen lots of criticism from other bloggers saying that the device doesn’t know what it is , but for me it does know what it is, it’s a tablet and an Ultrabook and given more time and development it could be even better. It would have been easy for Microsoft to let OEMS built tablets and notebooks and leave them to it but they took the bold step in showing what can be done with some quality hardware. When I go to CES next month I will be using the Surface as my primary device, if it wasn’t for my need to edit audio and video at the show I wouldn’t be taking my Macbook Air at all. So for me the Surface RT is the right device and it means my Macbook Air and iPad are gathering dust.