The Surface kickstand is not as great as it seems to be

I've noticed that the integration of a kickstand in the Surface was very well received but after thinking about it, I'm not so sure it was a good idea. Here's why:

Angle: From what I can tell (nobody has used it yet), it has only one angle. The viewing angle adjustment on a laptop or a dockable table let's you compensate for your own height, the height of your desk, the position on your lap and the viewing distance among other things. You don't have this luxury with the Surface.

You could perhaps invert the Surface for a different angle (like with the smart cover), maybe the kickstand can remain deployed this way. I still think this was an oversight on Microsoft's part.

Footprint: The kickstand takes up a lot of extra space. On a laptop you have the space taken by the body, and the screen is effectively cantilevered because it is attached to the body. On the Surface, you have the space required by the tablet with the kickstand deployed, and then the space required by the keyboard if you choose to use one. This makes it harder to use on things like the fold-out desks in lecture halls or the seat trays on planes. On your lap, you might not have the freedom of position that you have with a laptop that you can bring closer or push further away without having elements of it fall off past your knees.


Cases: The accessory market is big, people love to use cases. They add functionality, protection and a certain level of individuality. However, with the kickstand, a case either disables the kickstand or replaces it. It seems like a waste either way.

Portrait mode: I know that the device is primary intended to be used in landscape mode and that the aspect ratio seems to be optimised for and encourages the use of landscape mode but I still think that a portrait option would have been nice. They could have taken inspiration from a 'tie-shaped' stand on a photo frame and cut a notch out that would have worked in portrait mode. There are also several user-made concept designs of a Nokia tablet that did have a portrait mode, it doesn't look overly challenging to implement. Maybe they were passively suggesting that users use it in landscape mode only, however, the option would have been nice.

The Surface isn't the first tablet to have a proper keyboard option, Asus popularised this design with the Transformers and the Win8 laptop concepts make it seem like it is going to catch on among the manufacturers. If you look at the aforementioned problems, you'll notice that the 'transformer' design only really suffers from the portrait one. It's not as elegant but is, in my opinion, the one that offers superior functionality.

I know posts criticising the brand are not very well received in it's own forum but I honestly believe all the points are valid, there's no reason that a discussion about this can't stay civil.