At this year's SharePoint Conference I took the opportunity to put the Surface device to the test. Instead of dragging around my laptop I wanted to see how well the Surface would do to fulfill my computer needs for the week. I was pleasantly surprised.
In this article, I will highlight the highs and the lows of the Surface RT from my perspective. My average day consisted of attending meetings, where I used OneNote to record my thoughts, Twitter to share my notes with the world and SkyDrive to store my files.
Surface Battery Life
The first plus that I noticed with the Surface RT was the incredible battery life. I had heard that I could go the entire day without recharging, but to be honest seeing was believing. On average, I was able to easily go from 9-5 without needing to recharge my device. I was running mostly applications for Twitter and OneNote and I took advantage of the split screen capabilities.
By the mid-afternoon on the first day I still had close to 75% left. To be on the safe side, I decided to go ahead and recharge. What surprised me the most about the recharge was how fast it was to re-charge. So fast in fact, that I hardly had time to write and publish an article before the battery was back at a full charge. Having used multiple tablet devices through the ages, I must say this feature was a huge win! The remainder of the week I carried my charger in my bag, but never used it.
Surface Size & Layout
The next plus is the form factor and the ability to easily work, especially on an airplane. I am quite certain that the Surface might have been designed for use on an airplane. It fits easily into my bag and allows me to work comfortably from the tray table. The size is almost perfect, and I had no concerns about the person in front of me reclining too much — don't you just hate when that happens — and not having enough room to type. With the split screen, I could easily multi-task, which in most cases means working in Office while watching my favorite movies. The kickstand was angled at just the right height to make me feel as if I was using a standard laptop.
Working without a Table
One of the downsides I did run into though was when I attempted to use the device on my lap without a table. I am quite certain that short people with small legs were not part of the test group. I just didn't have quite enough length to balance the device and still type at the same time. As I lost balance, the weight of the tablet would win and it would tumble to the floor as I tried to catch it. This was surprising to me as at the launch event they claimed it would be nearly impossible to disconnect the keyboard without trying. I honestly find this feature more hype than reality! I hope that in the future there will be a case that can help distribute the weight more evenly and keep the device from tumbling off my lap and onto the floor. I have seen others comment that they haven't had the same issues, so I must just blame this on being short!
Let me start off by saying I love this keyboard! The form factor is great and it is relatively easy to get used to and type at speeds that are similar to my other devices. The keyboard however does have me concerned for a few reasons. First off, at times the keys can become very slow to respond. You start typing away and then notice that nothing is happening. In some cases I think it is because I am not pressing hard enough, but in other cases it seems like the device is not recognizing the keystrokes.
In addition, it seems like the keyboard is quick to separate from the tablet. This concerns me and makes me wonder if I possibly got a lemon of a keyboard. I am also concerned about the overall quality — for an extra US$ 119 I expected that it would have a better life expectancy, but it is already starting to show the signs of usage and I have only had it for a few weeks. These issues are minor in my mind, because if multiple people are seeing these issues then I imagine they will be easily resolved in a future version. I still have overall feelings of joy using the keyboard and love that I can easily pick a color that matches my personality. I just hope, that in time, my concerns prove to be early judgment and that my opinion changes.
With Windows 8, logging into a machine using standard settings becomes easier than ever since you can associate a Windows Live ID with your user account. This is a wonderful feature that allows me to manage multiple logins to the device. I personally have one account that I use for work and one that I simply use for play.