The Microsoft Surface RT: Almost two months later

TL;DR (too long; didn't read...for those who don't know)

After using the Surface RT for about two months I can say that it is great product (with problems) but will only get better with time.

My Background

The Microsoft Surface RT device has been critiqued and analyzed up and down across all forms of media. I've been using the Surface everyday since it's release on October 26th, 2012. Also, I should say that I have been using Windows 8 since the Developer, Consumer, and Release Previews; so I am very familiar with Windows 8 new direction with their software. I should also state that I am a 26 yr old software developer at a large software company (not Microsoft nor one of it's consumer competitors) so I am not what the tech industry states is not the "average" user. That's just a little background of myself so you can get a sense from where I am coming from.

First Day

The first day of using the Surface I did all the regular setup and download updates and such. Then I did some nerdy things like discover it's battery life with a whole bunch of stuff running and streaming and the like. Figuring out what I can't do that I already didn't know and adjust (and the most of that was figuring what movies I couldn't watch because of file formats even though I could look up a list…I was too lazy to do that). But I could dive into all of that stuff but I really didn't care, I was more interested in the keyboard and how well it worked and the heaviness of the device.

Samsung Series 7 Slate

I own a Samsung Series 7 Slate and I put all the previews on that device to get used to Windows 8 with touch compared to desktop (which I run as my main since the Developer Preview). I liked the Slate but it got hot after not that much usage and the battery life was horrible. I did like that I could use the stylus with it and I used One Note with it and it was awesome, especially at meetings at work, it would help a lot.

*Note I am currently writing this in One Note on my Surface with the Touch Cover.

Unfortunately, the battery life would cause me to bring my charger with me everyday because it would die on me and I usually listen to music but I could use photoshop on it since it is Intel based and I could use a stylus for drawing. All in all, it was cool on the Windows features side but it just wasn't a good device for what I paid for (over a thousand, but I have no regrets) compared to what the Surface with Windows RT is.

What I Use It For

After basically what amounts to two months I have found that I use my Surface for exactly what I thought I would be using it for: Web surfing, music listening at work, writing notes for meetings, watching some videos (a little more on that later), messaging (tweeting, facebook and such), and maybe some cool games later on after developers get enough time.

Gripes

Web surfing is a joy until I want to watch an anime (I like anime) that requires flash and I am unable to watch it unless there is an app (dailymotion) that has the anime for me to watch. Now after you say (for those who know): "There's a way you can fix it for that site)" I don't care. I go to a lot of different sites and if I have to keep opening this one file and then delete my history (which I did before and it wasn't worth it because I like how my history is roaming on my Microsoft Account) it gets annoying. I do understand why Microsoft chose the direction they did and I actually agree with their position if only they made it easier on users who do know technology, it would be "better" for me at least. It's not only anime sites, but that's the example use.

Music listening is fine but the Xbox Music App is bleh (and I love the Zune software), especially in performance. Sometimes I have to press the play button a couple times before it really wants to play but it doesn't because it has to play an advertisement first.

But I digress and started blaming the software and not the Surface itself. There are some things that get on my nerves but not to the points where I would not recommend it. When I cover the screen with the type cover and I receive a notification (mostly from the messaging app or calendar) I hear the notification and the speakers sound horrible when it does it. Speaking of speakers, it needs to be louder. I usually have music playing and I can barely hear it over the shower, when my Samsung Slate I could hear everything fine. I shall remind you that this is all my experience and others my differ and of course this is my opinion. The plugging in of the power supply annoys a little bit as well.

What I Do Like

Those are the only things that really bug me about the Surface, what I like the Surface on the other hand is a lot more. I think that the keyboard touch cover is probably the most innovative thing to come out since the Kinect. Unlike the Kinect, it's more usable (I mean, it is a keyboard) and I have no problem using it over a long period of time. I use to have a problem when switching between it and my regular keyboard for my desktop but I've gotten so use to it that it doesn't matter. The cover does have its problems (with the part in the middle opening but MS exchanged that for me for free without a receipt, great service) and it doesn't show a mark of the keyboard keys after it's been on there a while. Other than that, I love the touch cover.

The battery life is comparable to any ARM chip tablet on the market, when my Surface dies on me (which has happened twice) it was only because I forget that I should probably charge it. It is really light. A friend who has an iPad held both of them and said they really feel the same (as did I). Having a USB has actually come I handy on a number of occasions for me and I'm glad that the Surface supports it. I don't really care that it's not USB 3.0. The screen size is fine. I do use it in portrait mode when I'm laying down on my side or when I'm on the toilet and reading long articles, otherwise, horizontal. Interchanging keyboard, mouse and touch feels natural on the Surface. Microsoft did a great job on that front with their software.

A number of people ask me how my surface is when they see me use it and a number of them actually want to buy one. The thing that is holding some of them back is legacy software (note that those uses were more into technology and looking for an old laptop replacement but still do their development on it, which would make sense). People do know about it (I've been asked: "Is that the clicky thingy?" by some college female students) and a number of other people about it.

Conclusion (I guess)

After using the Surface RT for about two months I can say that it is great product (with problems) but will only get better with time as the software that comes out for it gets better and updates come. I would definitely recommend it to parents who want to give their children a toy that they can use for school (I'm sure next school year will be big for Microsoft and the Surface), parents who want a lightweight little laptop who do their browsing and such on. Really, I would recommend it to everyone. Oh and when I do recommend, I always ask what's important to a user (because have recommended iPads…but that was before the Surface) because sometimes that will change what you should recommend.