News Windows Surface RT A Threat To Tablets? Thoughts And Opinions

Published on November 10th, 2012 | by afinest


Windows Surface RT A Threat To Tablets? Thoughts And Opinions

    Windows Surface RT A Threat To Tablets? Thoughts And Opinions

    Windows Surface RT A Threat To Tablets? Thoughts And Opinions

    Windows Surface RT A Threat To Tablets? Thoughts And Opinions

    The Windows Surface RT is a decently impressive device, as it brings Windows 8 in the same lightweight form factor of a tablet but with some nice extensions such as the touch cover and keyboard. It features a build quality that rivals the best of tablets, with Microsoft’s unique VaporMG material covering the device in a dark, matte black finish. But how does it compare to Android’s and Apple’s best tablets? Let’s start out with the hardware


    The external hardware of this device is quite nice. Microsoft has pioneered a new manufacturing process called VaporMG. This means the end product is thin, lightweight, and premium overall. It seems that Microsoft has put a lot of time into the external design of this product, and the quality really shines through. It features a kickstand that lets you keep the tablet upright and is a nice feature if you want to watch a movie or something on a flat surface. This is something that we haven’t seen, and the attention to detail really matters. Throughout the launch event for this product, they really focused on getting everything perfect and feeling premium, which they constantly stressed. The fact remains, its a good looking and good feeling device.

    While the externals are quite fantastic, the internals are where things take a different turn of events. We start with the processor, which is an Nvidia Tegra 3 T30 which is no slouch by any means. We’ve seen a similar setup within the Nexus 7 and that device is quite brisk. But with the Windows environment, we are concerned about how well the Tegra 3 integrates into the task heavy UI of Windows 8. With 2 GB of RAM, it means your multitasking should not be slowed down too much. The display is a ClearType display which Microsoft boasts moves the screen closer to the glass making it more responsive and makes for a clearer, more vibrant image. While this is all great, the panel behind that glass is a disappointing 1366×768 10.6 inch display.


    With the latest version of Windows, Windows 8, this tablet is faced with tough challenges from the likes of Android and iOS. While you might be thinking that this device will be great because you can run all your favorite desktop programs on it, your poorly mistaken. We don’t blame you though, as we thought the same way. Having an ARM based processor means that all your favorite legacy programs (regular Windows desktop programs) will not be compatible with the Windows Surface RT. However, this opens up a new avenue for this device to take, with the Microsoft App Store coming into play. Think of it as Microsoft’s answer to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. What the Microsoft App Store is missing compared to these two other app stores is content. Because it was just released, developers haven’t had much time to make any apps or games for this device and as such it has a very poor ecosystem. Of course, with time this problem will improve but it will not reach the magnitude of the Play Store and Apps Store for a long time, simply because those have been around for much more time.


    This is where things get really bad for the Surface RT. We aren’t going to mess about, its pretty expensive. Starting at $499 for the 32GB, its certainly not the bargain of the year. With the next capacity, 64GB, you will have to hand over a hefty $599. Add another $100 dollars to the already ludicrous 64GB variant and you will receive a black touch cover. Yes, it only comes in black if you buy it with the 64GB variant. If you want a different color, such as the offered black, white, magenta, cyan, or red you can expect a price tag of $119. Now you might be saying, well look at other tablets such as the Transformer Prime, Nexus 10, and iPad they all start at that similar price range. With what I would respond, you aren’t really getting something worth that price simply due to the lacking internals. Furthermore, the touch cover seems to be an integral part to this product, and at 119$ for the keyboard only, we have a hard time justifying why a 3mm magnetic keyboard would cost so much.


    For the time being, the biggest competitors to this tablet seem to be the iPad 4, Samsung Nexus 10, and Asus Transformer Pad Infinity. All of these have high resolution displays, the one with the best being Samsung’s Nexus 10 with an incredible 300ppi on a 10.1 inch display with 2560×1600 resolution. The iPad 4 boasts a 2048×1536 resolution which is also great. The iPad has arguably a more natural color reproduction than the Samsung, with the Samsung’s display being noted by some as overly saturated. The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity has the lowest resolution of 1920×1200 (can’t believe that can even be considered a low resolution!) which is means its less pixel dense but supposedly has the best color reproduction to to it’s IPS qualities. Compared to the Microsoft Surface RT’s resolution of 1366×768, its not looking so great. On to processors, Samsung has opted to go with an impressive dual core Cortex A15 Processor which is very fast at 1.7GHz. The iPad was recently updated with the A6X processor that should handle quite nicely in iOS. The Transformer Pad Infinity has a Tegra 3 at 1.6GHz which is a little bit on the slower side compared to the iPad and Nexus 10, but matches the Surface RT in performance. If you need a physical keyboard to type on though, the Transformer Pad Infinity also offers a dock which you can attach. While it does retail at $149, it does also act as an extra battery which can achieve up to 15 hours on the Transformer Pad. Prices vary from place to place, so make sure you check out what your local stores are offering if your interested in these tablets.


    The Windows Surface RT is Microsoft’s first attempt at making a tablet to compete with today’s tablet market. As a first shot, its definitely promising but when compared to it’s rivals, the device lacks the same brute force that are being offered by other manufacturers. With the Microsoft App Store ecosystem just starting out as well, don’t expect to find a comprehensive app collection here but that will change as time goes on.

    You can get these devices excluding the Nexus 10 (which isn’t available yet) on Amazon

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    3 Responses to Windows Surface RT A Threat To Tablets? Thoughts And Opinions

    1. John Gallucci says:

      This was a modest review and a good comparison of the tablet at face value. The only point I will make is this. Having owned the Surface RT for over a month now, my initial skepticism regarding the relatively low resolution have been washed away. The IPS panel plus ClearType really does make for a magnificant display. Anyone balking at the low resolution really needs to spend time in front of the device. More pixels does not always mean better display. The IPS display and font smoothing (ClearType) make for a better display than a typical LCD screen with a higher resolution.

      Other features worth noting is the Desktop Mode of the RT. None of the competitors have that, period. My first time plugging in a USB thumbdrive and being able to drag-n-drop files into a folder made me realize how important file browsers actually are. Being able to access traditional panels such as network configuration or the system clock made for a smooth transition (I am an Android tablet owner for almost 2 years)

      The other feature worth noting is IE10. This is the first time i have ever enjoyed a MS browser over any competitor. I even like IE10 better than Chrome on Android, and I am a HUGE Google Chrome fan (of course Chrome is still better than IE10 for Win8 Pro desktops). IE10 for Windows RT is the best Mobile browser hands down, and is actually the main reason I bought the device in the first place.

      • Yes I have to admit, compared to other displays the Surface RT seemed very clear and responsive. The only downside is at least for my taste, there wasn’t enough saturation of colors. Other than that, the display was very nice. The resolution isn’t a big deal for clarity, but more so for work space. I know that on my laptop that has a 720p resolution, when I connect it to a monitor that has 1080p there is so much more space for different webpages and documents.

        The desktop mode is a nice feature of the RT, but many Android tablets have USB OTG support which is pretty much the same thing. I’ll admit, having a fully fledged USB port is a major luxury and a very good point of the Surface RT.

        IE10 is hit or miss for me. It’s definitely much much better than its predecessors and is very nice in polish, but somehow underneath it I still feel like its just a re-skinned IE9. Compared to Google Chrome I like Chrome better still, but IE10 is pretty close. Google Chrome for mobile is terrible. I have a Galaxy S2 I9100 and it’s rendering is very inconsistent and it crashes a ton.

      • I think mainly for productivity (such as connecting multiple devices, surfing the web, typing, working on documents, etc.) the Surface RT is a really good tablet. But for most people, they have a laptop that does that for them. Tablets are mostly about the “fun” aspect and media consumption which is a completely different approach than the RT. The RT is still however a very good choice, and if the Surface Pro comes out with good battery life it might be really worth considering to me.

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