Surface Review - Predictable with overall positive sentiment

Did not expect the Surface RT reviews any other way. For every negative review, there are positive ones. From where I stand and see (with my Fanboy tinted glasses), the reviews are mostly positive. Everyone has acknowledged the emergence of Microsoft as a Hardware player, but for each one of these reviews - Software was the sore point. To start with the new Windows 8, there is a learning curve, then there is a lack of good apps and the overall ecosystem has not kicked in yet. With different Surface OS versions, things were going to get murkier and it did.

Few good apps (Dear Microsoft - how can you release a device such as Surface without Facebook and Twitter apps on day one) and proper messaging should change the sentiment. Anyways, let's look at the reviews.

AnandTech writes:

After using Microsoft’s Surface for the past week I can say that I honestly get it. This isn’t an iPad competitor, nor is it an Android tablet competitor. It truly is something different. A unique perspective, not necessarily the right one, but a different one that will definitely resonate well with some (not all) users.

And summarizes the review as:

The Windows RT experience, in many senses, is clearly ahead of what many competitors offer in the tablet space today. Multitasking, task switching and the ability to have multiple applications active on the screen at once are all big advantages that Microsoft enjoys. For productivity workloads, Surface is without equal in the tablet space.

Content consumption is also great on the device. Surface's display isn't industry leading but it's still good.  Reading emails, browsing the web flipping through photos and watching videos are all good fits for the platform - just as good as competing solutions from Apple or Google. 


I don't believe Surface is perfect. I would have liked to have seen faster hardware inside, and there are some rough edges that could use smoothing out (e.g. the power connector and HDMI output come to mind) but overall the device is easily in recommendable territory. The biggest issue I have with recommending Surface is that you know the next iteration of the device is likely going to be appreciably better, with faster/more efficient hardware and perhaps even a better chassis. 

If you're ok being an early adopter, and ok dealing with the fact that mobile devices are still being significantly revved every year, Surface is worth your consideration. If you've wanted a tablet that could really bridge the content consumption and productivity device, Surface is it.

Mashable asks if this is your next tablet and feels that Windows lovers and fans will find it most usable.

Surface is so different from any tablet I’ve used before that it took me a few fays to fully warm to it, but now I like it — quite a bit. Part of this is because I am a Windows user with a Hotmail account and Xbox Live at home. This is a Microsoft ecosystem and the Surface fits it like a glove. While I’m not a huge fan of the email interface (it’s dull), I had no trouble accessing my Hotmail and adding Gmail, and Google apps accounts. Similarly, the somewhat dull-looking calendar smartly handled all my appointments and popped up gentle reminders at all the right times. I also like that files I store on SkyDrive are available on all my other logged-in devices (this can work on an iPhone or iPad, too, since SkyDrive has an iOS app).


On the other hand, Surface truly shines when you have the keyboard option (especially if you use the Office RT apps and standard desktop interface). If you buy the 64GB model (it has a micro-SD slot somewhat awkwardly nestled under the kickstand where you can add up to another 64GB) with the keyboard, it’s $699. Now you’re into laptop price range. But again, consider what you get: A sub-2-pound PC that offers all-day battery life and out-of the box productivity, touch-screen interactivity and connection to all your favorite online services.

There’s no doubt that Surface will appeal most to Windows users. In fact this is the tablet for Windows fans. It won’t win over Apple iPad owners, but for all those who hate Apple, find Android confusing and underwhelming, and are ready to enter the world of touch-screen computing this is the alternative you’ve been waiting for.

TechCrunch does not like it so much and recommends skipping buying the current version.

Should you buy the Surface RT? No.

The Surface RT is a product of unfortunate timing. The hardware is great. The Type Cover turns it into a small convertible tablet powered by a promising OS in Windows RT. That said, there are simply more mature options available right now.

Microsoft needs to court developers for Windows RT. As a consumer tablet, the Surface lacks all of the appeal of the iPad. There aren’t any mainstream apps and Microsoft has failed to connect Windows desktop and mobile ecosystem in any meaningful way like Android or iOS/OS X.

...given Microsoft’s track record with Windows Phone, buying the Surface RT is a huge risk. The built-in apps are very limited and the Internet experience is fairly poor. Skip this generation of the Surface RT or at least wait until it offers a richer, more useful experience. While we’re bullish on Windows 8, the RT incarnation just isn’t quite there.

Gizmodo is no different and does not recommend buying the current incarnation inspite of all the goodness.

Should you buy it?

No. The Surface, with an obligatory Touch Cover, is $600. That's a lot of money. Especially given that it's no laptop replacement, no matter how it looks or what Microsoft says. It's a tablet-plus, priced right alongside the iPad and in most ways inferior.

That could change. Maybe there will be a new Touch Cover that retains the original's terrific physical qualities while actually allowing good typing. Maybe the quasi-vaporware Surface Pro, which eschews Windows RT in favor of the real-deal Win 8, will make all the difference, opening itself up to the open seas of PC software (for several hundred dollars more). Maybe the app store will look different in a month, or a year, and have anything to offer. Maybe. But remember that Windows Phone—which has swelled from mere hundreds, to tens of thousands, to over a hundred thousand app offerings over the past two years—is still a wasteland compared to iOS and Android. Poor precedent. Maybe Windows RT will be different. Maybe.

But those maybes aren't worth putting money on. As much as it looked (and even felt) like it for a bit, the future isn't here quite yet.

David Pogue of New York Times likes the hardware but loses his patience with the software.

Look, here’s the thing. You’d have to be fairly coldblooded to keep your pulse down the first time you see the Surface: its beauty, its potential, its instant transformation from tablet to PC. How incredible that this bold, envelope-pushing design came from Microsoft, a company that for years produced only feeble imitations of other companies’ fresh ideas.

And how ironic that what lets the Surface down is supposedly Microsoft’s specialty: software.

In time, maybe the Windows RT apps will come. Maybe the snags will get fixed. Maybe people will solve the superimposed puzzle of Windows RT and Windows 8. Until then, the Surface is a brilliantly conceived machine whose hardware will take your breath away — but whose software will take away your patience.

Walt Mossberg has an overall positive review as well, finds the surface productive.

Microsoft’s Surface is a tablet with some pluses: The major Office apps and nice optional keyboards. If you can live with its tiny number of third-party apps and somewhat disappointing battery life, it may give you the productivity some miss in other tablets.

Like Walt, Engadget finds the device productive but warns users against buying if media/content consumption is your predominant need.

The Microsoft Surface with Windows RT's $499 starting MSRP means those thinking about making the investment here will be carefully cross-shopping against same-priced offerings from Apple, ASUS and others. Where does this one rate? Very well -- but very differently. While those devices are primarily targeted at content-hungry consumers, the Surface is a slate upon which you can get some serious work done, and do so comfortably. You can't always say that of the competition.

It's in the other half of the equation, that of the content consumption and entertainment, where the Surface is currently lacking. It needs a bigger pile of apps and games to make up for that and, while we're sure they're coming, we don't know when. If those apps arrive soon, then early adopters will feel vindicated. If, however, the Windows RT market is slow to mature, not truly getting hot for another six months or so, holding off will prove to have been the smarter option.

So, if gaming and music and movies and reading are what you're looking to enjoy, then we might advise sitting this one out for a few months just to make sure that all your bases will indeed be covered. If, however, you're looking for an impeccably engineered tablet upon which you can do some serious work, a device that doesn't look, feel or act like a toy, then you should get yourself a Surface with Windows RT.