Tyla and I have had the Surface RT for a few weeks now. I’ve been putting off this review, but I’ll explain that later. First off, the device is great. If you want to step into the world of tablets, I have no trouble recommending this. It’s competitively priced and it has some strong differentiators.
Our device came with the touch keyboard. The first thing I did when I pulled it out was try a typing test. On my desktop keyboard, I average 100-110 words per minutes. On my first test with the touch cover, I got 66 words a minute and that includes backspacing to correct my errors. So yes, it’s slower, but it’s very usable and I expect that the type cover would be even faster. This unique keyboard/cover is the probably the single biggest win for the Surface. It removes one of my biggest complaints with tablets. You’re never going to type a two page email with an on-screen keyboard, but with one of these covers, it’s not too bad. However, unless you really want the super thin cover, I’d recommend getting the slightly thicker “type cover” which has keys that physically depress.
Word and Excel are included in the price of a Surface RT. I don’t use them a ton on the device, but if that’s something you need, your search stops with the Surface RT because no other (non-Windows) tablet can do this.
If you’re already heavily invested in the Apple world, stop reading and go buy an iPad. We know that’s what you’ll end up with anyway. Yes, they have more apps. I haven’t had a problem finding apps to do what I want on the tablet, but if you have some very specific app that you require, you should see which platforms carry it. You’ll only be able to run CascadeSkier if you’re on Windows 8. I’m sure THAT will drive millions of Surface sales.
So why did I say I’ve been hesitating to write this review? Well, it’s because I’m still trying to figure out why I want a tablet. Even Tyla will grab the laptop first if that’s closer. The only reason I pick up the Surface is because I’m bored while watching TV and it’s a novelty. Pretty soon I think it’s going to start gathering dust in the corner. I’m either in the mood to really use a computer in which case I’ll use a laptop or desktop or I want to kill time or play a game. In that situation my phone is already in my pocket. Why would I get up to get a tablet? That problem isn’t specific to the Surface. We don’t have an Android or Apple tablet for the same reason. The sweet spot for me seems to be as child entertainment or as a small device to take on planes. Neither one of those things apply very much to us at this point. I’m much more excited about devices like the Dell XPS 12 which functions most of the time as a laptop but can lay flat like a tablet.
I’m not going to complain about a gift from my company, but having a tablet in my house has convinced me that I’ve been correct in not spending my money on any device like this. If you have a need/desire for a tablet and want to try out a Surface before deciding, let us know! We can’t gift or sell this device, but you’re welcome to come play with it.