Microsoft Surface: Second Impressions

With the recent announcement of the new Surface Pro that runs the full Windows 8 Professional, the existing Surface RT still has it’s advantages. Although you can’t install your traditional Windows programs on RT, the key is the battery life. The Surface Pro is expected to only have about 5 hours of battery life. That’s not a step forward for tablets. Meanwhile the RT has 8-10 hours of battery life.

I’ve been using the Surface RT since it’s release in October. I do like it very much. I can’t yet recommend it over the Apple iPad for general use – yet. But, I do like the built-in stand. I bought a case, but it blocks the use of the stand and makes the tablet much more bulky – so I’ve jettisoned it. The case, that is. Also, the display is very good and seems better for watching Netflix than the iPad. The builtin keyboard on the cover is useful and the trackpad enables use of a mouse which is also nice. More importantly, the ability to download files and put them on a flash drive using the built-in USB port is very useful to me. I can’t do this on the iPad. Another feature the iPad can’t perform, is memory upgrades. There’s a secret micro-SD Card slot behind the stand of the Surface RT that allows more memory for storage.

One quirk I’m still working on is waking up from sleep mode. Sometimes it doesn’t and i have to power cycle it. It’s been a reported issue on many websites, but not everyone is experiencing this.

It doesn’t have 3G/4G built-in. I would miss that if i stopped using my iPad. However, I could enable the Personal Hotspot ability of my iPhone to make up for this.

Microsoft also announced this week that they will offer the Surface RT though Staples and Best Buy. I already received an email from Staples confirming this change in distribution. Unfortunately, small computer resellers still cannot resell the Surface – RT or Pro (Pro won’t be released until January 2013).

It can only improve. There are some other quirks such as connecting Bluetooth devices. But, if you know Windows, you can do this without trying the “Charms” in Windows 8. Microsoft has released two firmware updates and many minor software updates since October. It’s a good feeling to know the Surface’s usability will only get better. I think it has a better chance of replacing the iPad I carry around than any Android tablet.

Next month, my wife should be enjoying a hybrid laptop – the Lenovo Yoga. It’s supposed to be the best of all worlds with some concerns regarding battery life and weight. I’ll keep you posted.

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