3 Weeks with the Surface RT

Microsoft SurfaceNow that I’ve had the Microsoft Surface RT for 3 weeks, I think it’s a good time to go over a few things.

First, I’ll say that I really like this device.  Before owning one, I thought both the kickstand and touch keyboard were rather gimmicky.  But now, whether it’s sitting on my desk or with me on the couch, the kickstand is out the majority of the time.  The angle is a little steep for sitting on my lap, but still workable.

I have the Touch Cover.  I have mixed feelings about it.  For one, it’s GREAT having a keyboard.  I can type pretty quickly on it, but the error rate is still rather high.  I’m hoping I’ll get even better as time goes on, but there’s also the option of upgrading to the Type Cover which is more of a traditional laptop-style keyboard.

Having Microsoft Office on here is something I had far undervalued.  I mean, I’ve gotten along for 2 years with the iPad without Office, what’s the big deal?  Well, with fully functional Office, working with documents is effortless.   With the iPad, I always had to do some mental gymnastics regarding document handling: what format should I convert this to?  Email it? DropBox it?  Can the app I want to use open it from DropBox?  And  that’s just for viewing, forget about editing and getting it back off of the device!  With the new Office and its SkyDrive integration (not to mention that I’ve been an avid OneNote user for years), it’s for the most part seamless and Just Works: edit and save a document from my desktop, pick up where I left off on the Surface, an vice-versa.   Open from SharePoint (ugh), and on and on.

I was glad to see Microsoft include an ARM version of the Remote Desktop Client, it works well.  I’ve been able to VPN to both home and work, so this combined with Remote Desktop access really gives me plenty of flexibility.

Battery life has been decent.  I routinely get at least 8 hours without a problem.  What did come as  surprise is how incredibly fast it recharges.   I need to pay closer attention to it, but it seems like I’ve gone from less than 10 percent battery to well over 50 in right around an hour.  The plug is weird, though.   It’s small and magnetic, but I find it difficult to get plugged into the beveled side without looking.  Nearly impossible in the dark. One coworker agrees with me on this, another doesn’t.

Coming from using a Windows Phone (an therefore a Metro UI) for a couple months, I feel like the tablet (and perhaps Windows 8 in general) could benefit from a Back button.  I also wish the Start (“home”) button glowed like my Lumia 920 – it’s also very hard to locate and press in the dark when you’re not sure how you have the tablet oriented.

For the first few days, I mostly avoided Metro IE in favor of IE on the desktop.  Most likely because of familiarity.  But once I discovered that you can swipe left/right for back/forward in Metro IE, I rarely use the desktop version anymore.  I still find it painful that MS doesn’t allow browser plugins, though.  I’d really like to have my LastPass integration.   Random thought here, LastPass: what about implementing the Sharing Contract (or whatever it is called) so IE could pass you the URL, and you copy the password to the clipboard and toss control back to IE?

I think that’s it for now, David’s  swimming lessons are wrapping up so I need to get moving.  I’ll post more as I come across it.