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Looking back to half a year as Surface 2 RT User

, 19 Jun 2014
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I look back at my half-year experience as Surface 2 RT User, showing off the Surface Hardware and my experiences I had using it

Contents 

Introduction

There are thousands of articles about the Surface 2 RT out there, some of them are pleasant for Microsoft, and some are not. I got my Surface 2 RT by the end of December 2013, and by the time I write this it is already June 2014. I admit that this isn't quite half a year to look back, but that's a detail. I've been an avid iPad user before I got the Surface, and today I wouldn't want to go back. Let's take a look at the specifications first:

Size

10,81” x 6,79” x 0,35”

10.6 inch screen
1920 x 1080 Pixel

Storage
RAM

32 or 64 GB
2 GB RAM

Processor

Quad-Core NVIDIA Tegra 4

 

 

The Hardware

I need to admit that I really like the Surface's Hardware and the way Microsoft has built it. Even though it appears "heavy for a tablet" it is still nice to hold it in your hand. The manufacturing and assembling of the Hardware seems to be done in a professional way, everything matches and stays in place.

All in all the Surface makes a pleasant appearance,I purchased an additional Touch Cover for it, which isn't included. My main reason to purchase it wasn't the Surface' On-Screen keyboard, but the fact that I don't like On-Screen keyboards. The one of the Surface, by the way, is very nice and can be useful if you don't have a physical keayboard device around. It has rather big keys and is very good to use, even for people with "bigger" fingers. Now back to the Touch Cover:

Many wrote about it, many said that it isn't usable. Of course it will never give you the feel of a real keyboard, yet it is good enough to write short texts (emails, CodeProject posts, comments to reviewed Office documents) even though everyone needs some "acclimatization time" to really get a feeling for it. A lot of people I know do leave their fingers on the keyboard when they don't press a key, something that remains impossible if you use the Touch Cover. Apart from that the Touch Cover is a feasible solution to replace keyboard and mouse for a tablet computer.

Another point which is often discussed on hardware revies is the hardware case, something Microsoft did an extraordinary great job on with the Surface:

The picture above shows the left side of my Surface. You can see the left speaker (top most), the audio jack entry (in the middle) and the volume button (that long thing below the audio jack hole). What really impresses me is the way how they just fit in with the rest of the case. The same picture continues at the right-hand side of the device:

 

The USB port which can be found there may be the greatest feature, I really love it. I can even plug in an USB adapter for my wireless mouse & keyboard there, or a normal USB stick (which is great if you want to quickly exchange data with your colleagues at work or at school). Another really cool feature is the lid at the back which allows you to mount your Surface on a desk. 

I don't wanna say that the camera is the ultimate feature of every tablet computer, but since most people see it as at least somwhat important I will loose some words on it:

The picture above shows the back camera, which is greatly integrated into the Surface' case. The Surface also features a front camera, which has a noticeable lower quality than the back camera. I did test pictures with both of the cameras:

Yep, that's me on the picture. I decided to use the front camera the way it is probably used most of the time: a Selfie - Even though I don't really like this late selfie-sickness going around the world. While the picture isn't too bad I notice that everything looks like someone put a filter over it (Might be due to the 3.5 Megapixel resolution). As comparison, the picture below was taken with my Nikon D5000, only a few moments after:

There is a noticeable improvement, isn't it? Anyways, I don't think about the lacking front cam quality as a tragedy. If you want to get a good picture of yourself you have a good camera on your own, or go to see a professional photographer.

The back camera, however, isn't a high-quality device either, yet it manages to make noticeably better photos. I just took a photo of my desktop switch as example:

I guess you can consider the picture "OK". It isn't exactly great, but after all you got a tablet computer and not a tablet camera. After all you can see the improvement in comparison with the front cam.

Handling it

Now let's come to the really interesting part: How is it to use the Surface? I am a former iPad user, and the Surface really impressed me. It's nice to hold and the Touch Cover is nice to write emails and short texts. While that's solely my opinion I can understand that some people may feel different (The Touch Cover can be a pain until you learned that you shouldn't rest your hands on a touch keyboard...). Of course the new Windows 8 is another thing you need to get used to, but it's easy to really get a hang on it. What really bugged me (and still bugs me) is that the on-screen keyboard doesn't show up automatically if you are on the Desktop side of Windows 8, and need to bring it up by clicking (tapping) the keyboard icon in the Taskbar.

Another big topic was the battery usage: While there are reports of Surface batteries lasting no longer than two hours, I used my Surface 2 RT at school, to browse the web for information, take notes, create mind maps and write emails and it never let me down. The battery usually lasted the whole day (of course I didn't permanently use it, but I was never let down by the battery). Something battery-related has caught my eye: If the battery was deeply discharged it might not be recognized by your Surface anymore. If your Surface displays a message along the lines "Battery not found" you need to charge it for a day (or more) in order to rescue the battery.

Is it worth the money?

In my opinion, Yes. The Surface is a top tablet computer and has proven it's reliability over the past few months. The relatively high price can be justified by the fact that you get a tablet with a far better quality, from a hardware point of view and from the software point of view. The battery lasts a day with modest usage, the camera is good enough to be used if there is no "real" camera around and apart from that it has proven itself as my personal travel "laptop" which I can use to write emails, browse CodeProject and review / correct office documents.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Marco Bertschi
Software Developer (Junior)
Switzerland Switzerland
Software Developer (Swiss Federal VET Diploma), experienced with Qt C++, C#, RFC 5424 and Arduino Boards.
Music enthusiast, runner, part-time psychologist for friends, awesome guy.
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