Jmilley.com Obligatory Blog

19Feb/140

Surface RT review update 14 months in

I've had my Surface RT now for 14 months, and wanted to update my earlier review so that I can provide a clearer look at my experience so far.

I will say that I flip flopped many times between using my iPad more and the Surface more in the last 14 months.  I find that it can replace most of what I was using my laptop  for (light word document editing, email, remoting into my work network, etc.) but I still find I prefer the iPad for casual web browsing, Facebook, Twitter,  and games.  I even bought the iPad Air to replace my aging iPad 2.

One thing that is great about the Surface RT vs the iPad is the presence of Flash.  This was the one thing that always sent me back to my laptop / desktop with the iPad, now I can rely on IE in Windows RT to use websites that rely on flash.  IE in Windows RT makes a lot more of the web accessible than with mobile Safari on the iPad.  Having a keyboard attached makes any task requiring typing more than a few words much better.

Many software updates that came out from Microsoft over the last 7 months have improved the usability of Windows RT, but the biggest is the release of Windows RT 8.1 last fall.  The user interaction changes shared with the main build of Windows 8 have made many things easier to accomplish.  I especially like the inclusion of Outlook 2013 in this release.  That makes interfacing with my office Exchange server much more pleasant.

There have also been a lot of updates on the App front as well, including a native first party app for Twitter, an app for my Bank (RBC), the new Skydrive app for RT 8.1 now supports syncing files locally, etc.

On the hardware front, this thing seems very durable, the only issue I had was the felt backing of the type cover keyboard separating at the connection to the tablet.  I happened to be near a Microsoft store while on vacation and they swapped it out for me no problem.  I've had excellent dealings with both the online support and the in person support.  6 months later and the same thing is happening again.  Maybe they've fixed this in the Type Cover 2.

As for my initial complaint about finger prints, they are still hard to fight, but I bought a screen protector that boasted finger print resistance as a feature and this seems to be an improvement over the raw screen.

I do have one warning to folks on data usage, Windows RT and IE 10/11 are for all intents and purposes Desktop browsers, and Windows store apps are not mobile apps, this means that websites and services don't seem to concern themselves with being cautious regarding data usage.  Therefore when tethering to your mobile phone you need to watch your data consumption closely. I was travelling last summer and watched a fair bit of Netflix while tethered to my iPhone, and I burned through my 6GB data plan in the first few days.

I question the long term validity of Windows RT on ARM given the amazing power performance of Intel's newest Haswell processors (9 hours on the 11 inch MacBook Air) I think the Surface Pro 2 is an amazing device, and it makes the Surface RT and Surface 2 a questionable proposition aside from the consideration of cost.

All in all, I do still use my Surface, but more of a laptop replacement than a iPad replacement.

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