| | 09-09-2013, 07:41 PM #1
First of all I’d like to say that I’m not a fan of tablets as a whole. I had an old elitebook (The one you can rotate the screen on and turn it into a tablet) and honestly, I preferred my thinner, lighter laptop every time and rushed to a decent business laptop instead. I dabbled again with the Asus Transformer and it just felt like an oversized phone. Not to mention the incessant lag and other mess that is Android. I then had a two week stint with an iPad 2nd gen because millions of Apple fans can’t be that wrong right?
Finally, there was the Nexus 7, I had high hopes here because it was, “Android without the lagware” as some less biased reviewers put it. Low and behold, the lag was present, though admittedly lesser. It still felt like a blown up phone to me without the usefulness. I kept it long enough to beat Dark Meadows but did all my browsing on my Lumia 800, then 920. I think my three year old uses it to watch superhero cartoons now… or maybe as a stepstool, who cares? The point is, I thought I’d never buy a tablet because they were generally blown up phones and nothing more. I won’t lie, I liked the look of the surface series but at the price point, not a chance for something I wouldn’t use… Or so I thought.
Enter stage left; a two hundred dollar Surface RT complete with touch cover. At that price, whether or not it was decent, it was a snap buy. If nothing else, I had a two hundred dollar SNES emulator, not the worst way I’ve spent money. Oh, I didn’t know how much I’d adore this thing. I have not used my laptop in 5 days and why would I? This thing gets the job done and so efficiently! So, that’s my little history with the tablet world, now for an average Joe review.
Spoiler Alert: You will not find a better built tablet. Everything from the aluminum-blend housing to the gorilla glass screen just feels solid and is! How do I know? It survived my two year old all weekend, a feat not shared by many things. He played a few terrible Batman games that he found nonstop with absolutely no damage to it despite one drop and some heavy use.
My favorite part about the hardware, it always feels cool to the touch. I don’t know how they pulled it off but I’m pretty sure they took the cool side of a pillow and embedded the exact temperature into this thing on a permanent basis. It feels amazing. Aside from that, the screen, while not the sharpest, has phenomenal viewing angles and a great level of color reproduction. You’re not losing much with those few lost pixels.
As for the screen, I have to tell you, I love it. I see no definitive loss and the viewing angles are unparalleled. The color reproduction is great and the sunlight readability gets me by for those long SNES sections where I just can’t put it down.
The speaker has been the only thing I found less than captivating. Sound quality is good enough but the overall volume is underwhelming at best. I’ve left my UR20s plugged in and it’s been decent enough.
The keyboard, both onscreen and off is great. The touch cover takes a few minutes to get used to but after 10 minutes or so, you don’t even look elsewhere. The response is great and I can regularly type 60+ words per minute on it which is actually quite remarkable for a keyboard like this. I do, on occasion look beyond this though, to a tablet keyboard… Awful as they are and I have to say, very usable. I’m typing this whole review on it. Not only that, I’m typing it in portrait mode which was unbearable on every other tablet I tried and I’m loving it, no real solid complaints at all.
I won’t go into specs because a person who buys a tablet for its usability rather than specs isn’t going to care (And likely bought a Windows Phone over an Android device for the same reason.) Overall though, astronomical hardware.
I’ll keep this one brief because I only care about the usability of the software. I’ll jump straight to the negative. I hate that Office only exists in Desktop mode. If I could, I’d remove Desktop mode and keep everything in the Metro interface. Desktop Mode’s inclusion is the only thing that killed the tablet a bit for me. It makes it feel like Winmo 6. As far as apps go, I see no real issues. I downloaded a few RPGs and my basic communication apps and while a facebook app would be nice, I get by though and I don’t really feel as though there’s a definitive shortage anywhere. Its advantages heavily outweigh the downsides.
I love multitasking. Earlier, I was playing Final Fantasy, watching an Ebay item and downloading some torrents simultaneously. All simultaneously on the screen with no performance issues. I think they should really emphasize that feature.
As for the most important part, the UI itself, it’s the best of its kind. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of issues but it is unquestionably a higher caliber of operating system, not depending on apps to make it usable.
The Overall Experience:
Overall, the tablet has changed my mind. I’m sold 100%. I mean, minus the fact that Office has to be opened in desktop mode, it has been an amazing experience exceeding the quality of every other tablet I’ve ever handled a dozen times over. It is an upgrade to any other Non-Windows tablet and in terms of build is an upgrade over any RT tablet. Even if people aren’t realizing it yet, these are the tablets of the future.