Microsoft Surface RT Review: This Is Technological Heartbreak

Surface was the single biggest genuine tech surprise of the year so far. Microsoft tantalised us with a tablet that made the iPad look stale. Its snap-on keyboard made all laptops look immediately old fashioned. And it promised The Future of Computers.

AU Editor's Note: This is a US-centric review of the Surface. We'll be getting hands on with it Down Under in the next few days with a review to follow soon-after.

We hadn't looked forward to something this much in a long, long time. Now it's here. And it's been just as long a time since a gadget has been so disappointing. Surface is good, but Surface RT sure isn't the future. Not yet.

Why it matters

The laptop is about as far advanced as one can imagine. The MacBook Air and a horde of ultrabook clones are hitting a brick wall in terms of form and physics. The tablet, likewise, isn't exactly pushing civilisation forward; it's still fundamentally a luxury device, a delightful toy for reading email on the couch or watching movies on an aeroplane. Nobody needs a tablet. It's a lovely, superfluous thing. But everyone needs a computer, unless you're planning on living by a lake and trading furs for a living.

Microsoft's pearly promise for Surface was to pioneer a strange new kind of gadget: all the grace and leisure of a tablet, combined with the ability to actually make stuff that a computer brings. Convenience with input. Type, edit, change. Work. Power! Microsoft claims outright that Surface will bring together the best of everything that exists — the elusive union of laptop and tablet. Or at the very least, with Surface RT, a tablet that you could actually use as your primary computer.

The men who built the Surface from a pile of cardboard prototypes into the thing I've been using for the past week stood in front of me at their headquarters and said exactly that. Microsoft is trumpeting a historical change here. And it has a recent track record of building exceptional things. Sure, there's a Surface Pro version coming up that'll have full, powerful laptop guts, and run the same software any PC can — Microsoft's best shot at being your only computer, forever. But even this RT variant is supposed to give us some overdue synthesis. Plop it down on your desk and get things done.

Whether Microsoft can keep this promise matters more than anything else in technology this year. Surface could be the blueprint for the machine you'll be typing on well into the next decade. No pressure.

Using it

Surface is Microsoft's attempt to out-Apple Apple. The thing is designed to hell and back, and most of the time it shows. This means a lot of attention to detail — attention that sounds silly until you actually hear it — like the kickstand with an extra, custom-designed hinge to guarantee a satisfying chkkk every time it's snapped shut. Is that superficial? Only if you consider something you're going to potentially hear and touch multiple times every single day superficial. Otherwise, it's just damn thoughtful.

And most of the time, Surface is a thoughtful computer. It's a beautiful computer, in your hand or on a tabletop, its shifting angles clean and secure like a Danish prison. It's a little too heavy — slightly heftier than the iPad 3 — but otherwise comfortable to hold, with an angled bezel that melts into your hand. There's a convenient USB port that, unlike other tablets, doesn't look like a gaping open sore on the delicately chamfered side. The screen doesn't hold up against the crispness of the iPad's retina resolution, but still manages a lovely colourful pop to suit the colourful, poppy Windows 8. All over the Surface, these little details reflect the meeting of large brains.

But more importantly, Surface is handsome. That ineffable Hey, this thing feels good quality is lacquered all over Surface. You'll appreciate it every time you pick it up and turn it on. It's a simple, joyful experience. Open the Touch Cover keyboard/trackpad hybrid, snap out the kickstand, and lay the thing on your desk like a laptop. Start writing an essay. Flip the cover all the way around, hide the keyboard, and give yourself something substantial to grip like a tablet. Start swiping the web. Or prop the kickstand against the folded-back cover to create a stable base while you watch Netflix on a coffee table. Switching configurations is a cinch, and it's entirely intuitive. The Touch Cover feels as integral to the Surface as the binding of a book to the sandwiched pages. There's every reason to believe most computers will look and feel something like this, someday soon.

Like

The Surface is instantly more charming than any Windows device that's come before it. It's nearly the perfect size, and the form is almost beyond reproach. If you want a tablet, use it like a tablet. If you want a laptop, use it like a laptop. Both modes seem right, like a genuine seachange step forward. The Next Kind of Computer can be slipped in a bag, power up a bright display nearly instantly, run an operating system that loves being touched, and equally importantly, have a keyboard you can use to actually get work done.

Tablets aren't for work. That's the old refrain. But if they're going to be more than great toys someday, tablets have to become every bit as viable as a desktop tower as a way to write (and edit) long emails, presentations, and poems. Surface RT is the first evidence we have that this is possible, because you'll use it like you've never used any computer before. Your brain starts to rewire itself, and it's delightful.

Flip out the keyboard. Hit power. Swipe up to unlock. Type in your password. A dozen super-colorful tiles give you a snappy report of what's new: Who's tweeted at you, what's arrived in your inbox, news headlines, photos of your beautiful face, and incoming Facebook IMs, as they drop. You'll touch one thing, scroll to the next, swipe another, then begin typing, merging habits you've picked up since your parents first let you set hands on something that ran off batteries. Surface presents you the internet all at once.

Browsing in Internet Explorer is just as easy a flopping into a couch-cushion movie-marathon, or working in the full Microsoft Office suite. It all feels seamless, natural, a culmination of useful things. This ease, the effortless transfer between watching stuff and making stuff, reading and writing, listening and talking, it permeates Surface with the mark of The New Computer. This is what netbooks were supposed to be, before we realised they were all completely horrible: small, powerful, flexible, skinny computers that can do a ton of things easily.

You can thank Windows 8's radicalism for that. Traditional Windows would be absolute hell to use on this — or hey, so would OS X. But Metro is the best foundation for The Next Computer I can imagine, and if you can get over UI squeamishness, you'll love it. It'll make you more powerful the more you rub your hands on it. It is that good. Or at least it could be, at some point.

No Like

We're not there yet. Surface is a fantastic promise, and holds fantastic potential. But while potential is worth your attention, it's not worth your paycheck. Surface RT gets so many things right, and pulls so many good things together into one package. But it is undercooked. For all Microsoft's claims to hardware perfection and software revolution, Surface RT is undone by too many little annoyances, cracks, and flaws. After the initial delight of an evolved tablet wears off, you'll groan — because Surface brings the appearance of unity, but it's really just the worst of both worlds. Instead of trading in your laptop and tablet for Surface, a cocktail of compromises that fracture the whole endeavour, you'll miss them both urgently.

Want to use Surface RT as a laptop? Sorry, the Touch Cover is a letdown. It's a phenomenal engineering effort, and the most terrifically-integrated mobile keyboard ever. It doesn't compare to the junky Bluetooth options you can slap against your iPad. Microsoft's keyboard cover is perfectly integrated with the device, and touch typing on it is actually possible. You can't say the same for the iPad's glass.

But it only approximates a real keyboard — the buttons are pressure activated, barely buttons at all, and spaced in such a way that typos are inevitable and constant. Unlike the first time you pinched an iPhone or gazed at E-ink, there's zero that's instantly intuitive about the Touch Cover. And in order for this to be a brave new computer, Touch Cover had to be instantly intuitive, an immediately responsive thing to touch and work with. But rather than feeling like you've instantly grown an extra brain lobe just by using it, Surface's mega-hyped keyboard cover feels like it requires one.

You'll feel clumsy. You'll write slowly. I tried writing this review on the Surface, but I would've missed my deadline by a week. You'll get better — it will probably take weeks to hit a stride — but this thing was supposed to be a breakthrough. A perfect interface. Instead, it's just a half-broken death march up the learning curve. The trackpad, sludge-like and jerky, is even worse — particularly galling compared to the super-smooth touchscreen — and unlike the keyboard, will never get better with practice.

The Touch Cover also approximates, dismally, the sturdiness of a laptop: thanks to the cloth-like floppiness of the thing that's necessary for making it easy to open and close, it can't support itself on anything but a flat, rigid (apologies) surface. You can't type on your lap, like laptop. It's hard to imagine what a design solution out of this would have been, but that's Microsoft's job, not ours.

Perhaps most galling is the Touch Cover's $139.99 addition to the Surface's already pricy $559 base MSRP — akin to selling your windshield wipers separate from the car. Microsoft also offers a Type Cover, that promises actual physical keys instead of the flattened solution, but that will add critical bulk to your Surface experience — along with an extra $149.99. Another letdown — and a pretty outrageous one.

But it's Windows on Surface RT that's the greatest letdown of all, the lethal letdown, because it's not Windows 8, but Windows RT. You can't tell the difference by looking at them, but you certainly will once you use it. Windows RT is underpowered (everything opens and syncs slightly too slowly), under-functional (you cannot install a single app that's not available through the Windows RT app store, which offers a paltry selection), and under-planned (the built-in apps can't feel like Lite versions of something better). You'd be right to note that many of those limitations apply to the iPad as well, but no one could mistake iOS for OS X the way RT apes Windows 8. And even if it's a plight common to tablets, Microsoft — for better or worse — has hyped Surface RT as being so much more.

In the end though, this is nothing more than Microsoft's tablet. And a buggy, at times broken one, at that, whose "ecosystem" feels more like a tundra. There's no Twitter or Facebook app, and the most popular 3rd-party client breaks often. The Kindle app is completely unusable. There's no image editing software. A People app is supposed to give you all the social media access you'd ever need, but It's impossible to write on someone's Facebook wall through the People app, Surface's social hub; the only workaround is to load Internet Explorer. Blech. Something as simple as loading a video requires a jumbled process of USB importing, dipping in and out of the stripped-down desktop mode, opening a Video app, importing, going back into the Video app, and then playing. What.

The app selection, overall, is worse than the already pathetic Windows Phone app fare, looking like the software equivalent to a barren Soviet grocery store. The difference is that Windows Phone, used in quick, informative bursts, skates by on the strength of its excellent with integrated features. At the moment, there's just not that much to do with Microsoft's über-tablet. Surface is weak because Windows RT is weak; a tepid tablet OS pretending to be a computer's.

You can do work, yes. But productivity is limited to a "preview" (beta) version of Microsoft Office. It also hurts that Office requires plunging into Windows RT's Desktop mode, where users of actual Windows 8 are able to install a decade's worth of legacy software. Normally, this would compensate. But RT users can't install any of this older software. None of it. Desktop mode is entirely worthless in RT, a cruel tease of non-functionality. It'll only remind you of how much you can't do with your Surface, and is going to confuse the living hell out of most people who buy one — especially when Surface Pro, built on x86 architecture and perfectly compatible with all of those legacy programs, steps in a few months from now.

Should you buy it?

No. The Surface, with an obligatory Touch Cover, is $679. 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 favour 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.

Microsoft Surface Stats

Price: $559, $139.99 extra for Touch Cover

Screen: 10.6-inches, 1366x768 pixels (16:9)

Processor: 1.3 GHz Quad Core Tegra 3

Storage: 32 GB, microSDXC expandable

Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n

RAM: 2 GB

Connectivity: 1 USB 2.0 port, HD video out

Weight: 680 grams

Dimensions: 25.45 x 17.19 x 0.9 centimetres

Battery: 8 hours reading/7.5 video (advertised)

Gizrank: 2.0


Comments

    No apps so no likee?

    I understand on the keyboard, but using a pre-release system and complaining about the lack of 3rd party apps seems... odd.

      Exactly. And let's not mention that it already has about 4-5 times the amount of apps the iPad had at launch. Plus it's Windows. Anyone developer with half a brain would be looking at developing for it.
      A lot of people seem to think that Microsoft will be showing off and releasing quite a few big name apps at launch, like facebook, twitter. And don't forget about the 40 xbox live games they'll be releasing on launch too, including Angry Birds & Angry Birds Space, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja, and more: http://majornelson.com/2012/08/31/first-wave-of-xbox-live-games-that-will-be-coming-to-windows-8/

        Microsoft have been slack getting SDKs out, but soon enough people are going to be developing apps for Win8 and RT concurrently.

          They've been slack getting the Windows Phone 8 SDK out. I've been using the Windows 8 Metro SDK since September last year.

            Metro SDK?? In my experience the metro SDK was just part of VS2012.

              Yeah, it is. Was just trying to get the point across that the general public has been able to make Metro apps for a while. I don't think the average (unfortunately misinformed) Giz reader cares much for what the program's actually called.

                How are you going with developments. I couldn't get it to play a wav file from a directory on C:\, I think it was something to do with the limitations of how much of the file system you can access. It was kind of sucky, it means I'll have to find other ways to load a wav file and play it back. It seems a bit apple-ish. I'm gonna grab a new laptop this weekend and start exclusively developing metro apps for a while, hopefully I can come up with something good... Perhaps a Gizmodo app... If Allure would want to work with me on it.... Actually, that might be a good competition for Gizmodo to run. How about it guys, run a competition to make you an awesome windows 8 app!!!

                  Hahaha, that sounds like a brilliant comp idea :D
                  I haven't really done too much in visual studio though. I thought if you where going to load a file into an app it needed to be added in the solution explorer. Or if it's a file the user picks, you'd need to use the new file picker. It's not really something I've looked into that much.
                  I've been using Construct 2 for making games, then exporting them as HTML5 VS Projects, sorta cheating I know :P Currently turning my entry for the last Ludum Dare 48 hour comp into a proper metro game. It's nothing brilliant, more of a learning experience. Though if it does take off and become the next angry birds, that'd be nice :P (it won't though)

                You can't really cheat with programs. There's a lot of work which goes into a game. In a game studio, they have one person working on the 3D art, other textures, other logic, other gameplay mechanics, other for audio... So it takes a team of people to do that because most programmers don't have skills in every area of programming and game development. It's possible of course if you put the hard work in, but something like Construct 2 is a great starting point. Essentially you're just working off a framework... Exactly similar to almost every programmer in existence.

      The fact that there is "basic" apps is definitely a mark against it as its coming up against established ecosystems like the iPad and the nexus.

      So I would say its a big mark against it.

        Really? To me, basic app's pre-release point to better apps POST-release.

        Remember now::: iPhone had ZERO app's on release. And no AppStore. Yet a year after release, the tagline was 'there's an app for that.'

        In win8 basic, 90% of what I do is there. Assuming only half is there in RT, there is still a lot going on.

        I honestly still don't understand your post though. You just... sound weird.

    You know there's a physical keyboard cover?

      I believe he does know:

      "Microsoft also offers a Type Cover, that promises actual physical keys instead of the flattened solution, but that will add critical bulk to your Surface experience — along with an extra $149.99. Another letdown"

        This is one biased review. I've read several today from sources such as Anandtech, BGR and more and they're all actually rather positive. I'm pretty disappointed in this article.

        Edit in addition: "Want to use Surface RT as a laptop? Sorry, the Touch Cover is a letdown. It’s a phenomenal engineering effort, and the most terrifically-integrated mobile keyboard ever. It doesn’t compare to the junky Bluetooth options you can slap against your iPad. Microsoft’s keyboard cover is perfectly integrated with the device, and touch typing on it is actually possible. You can’t say the same for the iPad’s glass."

        I actually don't know what this paragraph is trying to tell me. The Touch Cover is a letdown... but here's how we think it's a phenominal effort and terrifically integrated. Furthermore, you can purchase the Type cover which uses actual physical keys.

        So therefore, you tell us this is all very bad?

        What on earth? Where is the reasoning?

        "Should you buy it?

        No."

        Wow.

        Last edited 24/10/12 6:12 pm

          Don't forge Engadget "You wouldn't think a 3mm-thick piece of polyurethane could make for a comfy keyboard, but the pressure-sensitive Touch Cover is a compelling companion to your written missives."

            Exactly. I'm seeing a negative response here but it's not backed up with reason. It seems to me like the reviewer has looked at the product, decided they didn't like it, then reviewed it with that feeling in mind. I fail to see the logic throughout this article.

        however the writer says its crap... yep, compare the keyboard you get to apples offering of none.
        typical apple loving writer...

          I don't see how this is apple loving. I hate apple. The only apple product I own i a 1st gen ipod. However, I can't see any reason why a person would choose windows 8 over an apple product. If I am going to learn a new operating system to integrate all of my devices, why would I choose the less developed one?

            Protip: when you start off your comment with "I hate *insert company*", it rarely adds to the credibility of your opinion.

    Hey guys, please don't put massive gifs in an article that people actually want to read. they're doing my head in.

      Yes, they are super super horrible.

      Took a couple out and reduced the other two. Sorry about that.

        Hey, just wanted to comment that these gifs actually end up on the mobile site also and are pretty mobile internet speed + mobile data unfriendly.

        Great - I'm glad I didn't see it when it was worse, but still +1 to removing those Gif's until the NBN.

      Yes, animated GIFs should be banned.

        This has to be the exception to that rule though. http://www.homerswebpage.com/

    It's a pretty harsh review.. but then, why shouldn't it be honest and blunt?

    I was afraid that the RT version was going to be lacking in pretty much all the places highlighted above. It's a bit surprising that the $139 TouchCover is so woeful though.. it's all a little bit "meh"..

    Will have to see what the Pro brings.. but will it prove to be a mistake on having released the RT now and potentially lose a lot of sales over the Christmas period as a result?.. Once you've got a tablet, you're not going to buy another for a little while..

    I think they should really have waited until the Pro was ready and then released them both together so it would be clear that one is the little brother of the other.

      I thought the pro sounded interesting, I wonder though at over a kilo whether its just going to be too bulky to use comfortably as a tablet, I find the iPad almost too heavy when you're lying on a couch or in bed and holding it up in front of you.

      Its unfortunate that a negative review of a microsoft tablet comes out the same day that apple releases a "new" tablet. I would've either held it back a few days or reviewed it earlier to stop it looking like some sort of backhanded ad for apple. Its not like no one knew when apple was doing their release.

        This article has nothing to do with any apple release. Put on your thick, glass-coke-bottle-bottom-glasses are read the article again.

      "It's a bit surprising that the $139 TouchCover is so woeful though" - Interestingly both engadget and the verge rate the TouchCover very highly, both saying touch typing was easy however did take a little bit of practice.

      I agree it is a bit harsh in relation to Arm based devices and their overall capabilities but i found it more of a Microsoft beat-up towards the end. The RT is priced well considering they have the premium product with the 'Metro' interface and slick hardware. The Touch keyboard is a revolution. This product is targeting the average consumer and will blend into their lives seamlessly.
      The Pro version of Surface is for me - SO DON'T TOUCH MY STUFF!!!!

    thanks for confirming what I already thought was the case

    waiting game for the surface pro continues!

    As with everything M$ it'll be ok on iteration #3

      Haha, you swapped the S in Microsoft with a $ symbol, that's really clever!

      I hate companies that want money.

        Yeah, like Appl€ - Hey, look! I did a stupid transposition, too

          Yeah - Andr0id - I used a zero instead of an "o" because android sucks. I win internets

            Nah, you used 0 because that's how much money Google makes from it :P (I kid, I kid)

    I was expecting the RT version to be a half-baked idea. The Windows App store really needs a major influx of apps that already exist on iTunes & Google Play.
    I think it will be enough for some people though - just not the tech-savvy.
    I'll wait for the Pro version.

      You guys seem to be missing the point, the Windows RT is for the iPad crowd while the Windows Pro is for us nerds. The advantage that Microsoft will have going forward is that developers will be able to create an App and have it work on RT/ Pro/ Mobile/X-Box in one go - but it is early days yet, I do agree the MS could have really been allot more aggressive with the pricing since it is already so far behind.

        Also, these could be good at work right? Much more work intergrated/friendly than an ipad with office and the keyboard.

      Win RT is a half-baked idea. Who on earth would want to waste over $600 on a device that you can't do anything with?? Even when all these new apps are launched for release, The Win RT Surface will STILL BE A LIMITED machine.

    dump the gifs so I can actually read this. What a joke, you've given me a massive headache

    Well, that seemed a bit harsh... maybe the pro version will be better?

      That's what I'm thinking....And as other commenters have pointed out, the apps will come as more and more devices from a range of makers arrive. I can't wait to try it!

        Look how slow and choppy everything is. I image the pro surface will be even worse. Much like apple, i think waiting for a second gen device would be better.

          uhhh why would surface pro be slower?

          It has a proper x86 Core i5 ffs

    This review seems overly negative to be honest.
    You went on for 3 paragraphs about the keyboard. It has been mentioned multiple times that the keyboard will take (accroding to reps) a few weeks to be fully proficent at. There is also a proper keyboard that can be purchased.

    Also compaining about apps on an ecosystem that hasnt launched yet is kinda moot.

    I just get the feeling that the reviewer had a negative opinion of this before the review was written.

    But i suppose this IS the internet, and everyone has a bias.

      That keyboard is arguably the unique selling proposition of the device. Apparently it does not work well - getting used to it is not the same as being good. Its a keyboard, it shouldn't take getting used to.

      He mentions the proper keyboard, but notes that it adds a lot of bulk, which kind of defeats the whole point of a tablet.

        Wrong, it takesme time to adjust to every new keyboard I use as some keys can be placed differently and also the positioning and depth required to trigger the keys are also different - which can take a week or two to adjust from your personal one.

        I for one still can not use my partners laptop keyboard proficiently and make typing errors quite regularly.

        And if the touch cover is the real issue in the review, considering they are 2 different hardware items - why not he separate review?

          They are saying several weeks. I alternate between a bunch of keyboards, from laptop, logitech to apple, and it's never taken me 'several' weeks to get my head around touch typing.

      That's a fair point.

      At the end of the day. This isn't a PC. It's a tablet.

    Such a shame. Though an Apple fan a part of me was rooting for Microsoft on this one.

    A few comments seem shallow.

    Saying you wouldn't mistake iOS with osX is a bit short minded. Look at where apple are going with UI in osX... more and more they are integrating apps. Much like windows 8 however it Microsoft so its not 'cool'.

    Likewise the review attacks the cover saying its bad for typing but then don't review the cover that's designed to be used for REAL typing.

    I expect it to have flaws but come on. I can't wait for a rational review from the AU version of giz.

      I said this on several post. I know people that have pre-order the RT calling it a real tablet as they can load on all their existing software. I know about RT because I understand the differences in ARM, AMD, Intel. Most general consumers don't, they think a Windows 8 tablet is a Windows 8 tablet and that RT is just budget hardware.

    The lack of apps is an issue, and it remains to be seen whether or not it'll pick up. No doubt the Surface Pro will be better for some people, but the RT was always going to go up against the iPad, so the entire x86 argument shouldn't matter. Microsoft's biggest screw up is failing to properly differentiate between the ARM and x86 aspects of Windows 8.

    Pro will make for a better ultrabook in a tablet form factor, no doubt, but it won't help if its battery life is limited. The main advantage of an iPad or something is that it lasts for many days on a single charge with average use. Can't say the same for most laptops/ultrabooks.

    Yeah, I probably wouldn't have used it for much more than cruising the net in the evening, but not on IE10 Metro version, that thing sucks balls! Firefox is trying to build something usable but I doubt it will be as sweet as the PC version. Sorry MS but you seem to have dropped the ball big time on this one... Looks like It will be save up for the real version of 8 on a netbook.

    The GIFs are horrible.

    I've read a few reviews now and all the complaints are different. There is a lot of personal opinion in these. I've decided I will have to make up my own mind. Having used an iPad and Nexus 7, I already know I don't want those.

    Boom... Harsh but honest review. You have saved me some cash! Lets hold off for generation 2...

    10+ years in the hardware retail sector and I think this is the most honest hardware review I have ever read.

    Out of all of the reviews I've read so far, this is by far the harshest. While admittedly, they all agree that windows RT and many of the apps are buggy, it's not like this is going to be a permanent thing. Regarding the keyboard and app store, Gaz and gg sum it up pretty well.

    Pretty much what I expected. I am a bit surprised at the need to use Office in the desktop environment - I would have thought that RT would eschew the Desktop entirely, given their target market, so why not use (the interface formerly known as) Metro UI for that too?
    Price and specs depending, I'll be waiting on the Surface Pro with the keyboard cover.

    Now let's wait for a review by someone who doesn't have an Apple bias.

      ZOMG, it's a differing opinion to yours by someone who actually used it! Must be Apple bias!

        Well, when your guy (or is Sam a gal?) gives it two stars and it is averaging closer to the equivalent of 4 in other reviews, it is hard not see it in that light. You certainly couldn't give an iPad Mini more than one star if you wanted to be consistent, given it's incredibly low spec, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

        Last edited 24/10/12 2:46 pm

          iPad mini will get 5/5, it's an amazing apple device but it's flaws are overshadowed by it's awesomeness!! Unlike this piece of shit surface, I mean c'mon, it doesn't even have *that* many apps before it's release date.

          Personally, read it as a harsh (even if a little overly) but also fair review.
          But I agree with many other commenters that the apps issue is mostly moot.

          http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/10/the-ipad-mini-seems-crazy-expensive/
          I don't think I'll be lining up for the iPad Mini

        Very professional response Danny, which only serves to strengthen gemini's assertion.

        Since when should opinion be such a major part of a review though? I want to know how well it does what it's capable of doing, not what it's not meant to do please. I've known it's not meant to be a laptop replacement ever since they first announced it.

      Regardless of comparison to other reviews, it's still an ad hominem attack on the author, which is wholly inappropriate. Please comment better in future.

    Those complaining about office, just stop for a second and think what you're asking? Would you really want to do long form word processing on the screen? Or Excel?

    There is onenote MX which is a fully touch note taking app, which makes sense, but the others, not so much, they do have touch optimized reading views.

      You know you can hook up your PC keyboard and mouse, don't you? You are not restricted like you are with an iPad or Android tablet.

        What were you saying? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZxMvfpfu98

        My Android tablet has a detachable keyboard or can use a PC keyboard.

        Separately, I'm surprised ASUS Transformer doesn't get mentioned more in all the Surface hype and reviews.

    This is the second review I have read, and it is almost the opposite of the other one.

    I find it strange that the biggest issues that the review finds are down the Windows RT. The full Windows 8 Surface comes out next year so it seems a bit unfair to review this one negatively for not being the other one. It was always going to be a simplified app-centric tablet version. The Surface RT seems to be in the unenviable position of competing with a simpler tablet while being criticised for not being an ultrabook.

      I've just been skimming more eraly reviews and this one is definitely the harshest. The general vibe of every other review seems to be: Hardware Good! Not enough Apps!

      ...which is fair enough. Apps don't magically appear at the start of a new platform, though.

        I don't get the apps thing. Why do you need an app for Twitter or Facebook, which are the two I've seen specifically mentioned in two different reviews, when you can access them from your browser?

          It's needed on phones with the smaller screen (although the Android Facebook app has been a joke for as long as I've had an Android phone) and really it's still nice to have an app specifcally designed for a touchscreen rather than using those sites in browser. That said, I would be stunned if those apps were not available at launch or within a week or two thereafter. Facebook is only one of the most popular sites in the world, I'm pretty sure MS have heard of them...

          The quick answer to that is live tile notifications. As for Twitter, third party apps already exist - MetroTwit is awesome.

      Just an extra thing here: I am a developer and I intend on developing games for this platform. I could also do some apps if I had the right ideas. What do you people need? What does Windows 8 App Store desperately need?

    "You can do work, yes. But productivity is limited to a “preview” (beta) version of Microsoft Office."

    Guess this review didn't take int account the full version was coming soon (now available)

    Harping on about the lack of apps before the release date... you really think there isn't going to be a big explosion of big name apps launched on the official release date? Short-sighted.

    Would have been nice if you'd at least bothered trying to review the Type Cover too. The touch cover always sounded a bit gimmicky to me (although reviews on other sites have been surprisingly positive about it, obviously it didn't work for you).

    No mention at all of the USB port and such, as a point of difference this has compared to the iPad. Another review I just read mentioned being able to connect this up to any 'ol printer, which had completely slipped my mind as something this tablet could do and which makes it that much more likely I would want it.

    I'm sure the Surface isn't for everyone (maybe it won't be for me either! won't know until I see one in the flesh) but this review seems... lacking in thoroughness. Things like missing that it's upgradeable straight away to the full version of Office and complaining about the preview version. Unforgiveable from a serious tech site.

      One of the big things for me, that I hadn't previously been aware of, is the microSD slot behind the kickstand. That could turn a 32Gb Surface into 96Gb Surface for an extra $70. Given that, I don't think I'd even bother with the 64Gb version.

        You can have up to 2TB for SDXC cards if you had the money

        Agreed. That is a BIG plus over the Apple offerings.

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