Hands On: Microsoft Surface For Windows RT

Microsoft's event today was long on promise and short on specs. RAM? We dunno. Processor speed? We dunno. Price? We dunno. Release date? We dunno. But even a very brief hands-on made something abundantly clear: it's a super solid device and if Microsoft can deliver what it demoed, the iPad finally has a real competitor and Android has a big problem.

Microsoft kept touting build quality at its press conference, and for good reason: the Windows RT Surface tablet is solid and stunning. Attention to detail is positively amazing, and it's so well designed from every angle that it's just a joy to look at. The keyboard is so thin it seems made from fabric. The lines are gorgeous, and it's a well-balanced device that you'll be able to hold for extended sessions. It is, certainly, easier to hang on to than any of the three generations of iPads to date. The screen is bright and vivid, and the viewing angle is as wide as you could reasonably expect to hold it. Even the kickstand that lets it sit upright, which seemed kind of, well, dumb onstage was a fantastic touch once we saw it in person and attached to the keyboard.

It's also fast and responsive. When we flipped through an app, going from snap state to full screen, it blazed faster than your average reggae band in Humboldt County. Touching led to instant firing. We don't know what kind of processor or RAM is in there (mysterious!) but it's ground-up quick.

And then there's typing on it. We couldn't do that! Notably, every single Surface tablet Microsoft let us put our hands on either was turned off, or didn't have a keyboard connected. I kept hearing how quickly you could type on it -- "I did 63 word per minute the first time I used it," one Microsoft employee told me -- but there was no way to try this out for ourselves.

Yes. It's awesome. It's going to be fantastic. Google had better step things up at its IO conference, because this Windows RT tablet is far more impressive than any shipping Android tablet I've ever seen. It's a clear rival to the iPad. Or at least, so it seems. We'll see. Can't wait for it.

MORE: What's your next tablet? See our mega-comparison.



    Samsung (and IIRC Acer) already have Win7 tablet PCs very similar in principle to the Win8 Pro Surface. I fully expect that Win8 versions of similar devices will be incoming upon Win8 launching.

    By the look of things Surface is Microsoft's Nexus: the benchmark, flagship WinRT/8 device that embodies their vision for that OS. Can't wait to get my hands on it and read some full reviews!

    Hands on? More like hands off!

      Actually, in one of the reviews, after hands on, one of the remarks made was that it didn't smudge... Like an Ipad... I would have said hands on... Peripherals like keyboard cases can come later...

    One of the only times windows 8 will be a better operating system than win7

      Why? Have you even used Win8?

        +1 - this looks phenomenal.

    This thing looks slick! Has it's own keyboard cover will it be the end of http://www.casebuddy.com.au

    I'll bet all many of the hardware manufacturers who were supporting Windows 8 will be having significant second thoughts.

    They will be asking how long it will be before Microsoft starts exploiting its privileged insider status to ensure its own hardware has the edge over OEM tablets.

    I think many may pull the pin on their support for Windows 8.

      Or will Microsoft be offering this tech to their partners? Also a definite possibility.

      Sorry but if the OEM's of the world can't do anything other than re-hash and steal others ideas, why can't Microsoft give them a push?

      WhY is Google allowed to release hardware but Microsoft isn't?

      That's right. After all, it is not like the PC business relies on Windows to any significant degree, is it? Hardware vendors have absolutely no choice but to wear this, just as phone manufacturers wear Google's Nexus phones. If anything, it will give the whole industry a wedge to drive into Apple's total dominance and I reckon they will all be lining up behind MS to exploit their success.

    Wow......only took em 3 years to join the market. Go home MS, the party's already too full.

      who cares if it took 3 years, have you seen the product they have delivered? It's lightyears ahead of any Android and iOS tablet in terms of productivity and most likely media consumption when VLC gets ported to Metro. They've delivered a tablet made of materials of higher quality than any other tablet and they keyboard case is an innovation in itself.
      You're just plain ignorant if you can't see that this is something special and if marketed right create something that Apple will have to try catch up to again.

      Sent from my iPad

    "every single Surface tablet Microsoft let us put our hands on either was turned off, or didn’t have a keyboard connected"

    Uhm.. ok? Clearly they are not ready to release this into the wild or let any type of critique of its actual use be made.

    Hopefully we'll get some actual hands-on reviews soon.

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